Lecture 6

Dr. Ron Mallon                                                            Philosophy of Cognitive Science


1.  We discussed last time the special properties that mental states have that make them difficult to understand within a naturalistic, materialistic worldview.  Here are two:

(a) They have content or meaning.  They are about the world.


(b) They exhibit rational interconnections.  Some of them provide evidence for others.  Some of them justify actions.


2.  How can these properties be explained?  Here’s a start on explaining the second: the human mind contains “mental representations.”  And the causal relationships between these mental representations is isomorphic to the logical relationships among sentences.


Fodor’s “Language of Thought” Hypothesis:  Propositional Attitudes are relations of a person to sentences in a mental language.  This mental language (sometimes called ‘Mentalese’ has structure representations (like sentences) that may be recombined.


3.  Why believe in a mental language:

Semantic Parallels

Meaningfulness parallels


            Productivity:  Infinite number of sentences/infinite number of thoughts

            Systematicity: Systematic relationships among thoughts.


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