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Why does J. A. Fodor think that there must be a language of thought Is he right - Essay Example

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Why does J. A. Fodor think that there must be a language of thought Is he right

Specifically, Fodor advanced a notion of a language of thought. Fodor’s Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) states that the thought process occurring in the mind is a symbolic system that parallels a language in structure. Jerry Fodor’s presented LOTH in his aptly titled book The Language of Thought (Fodor 1975). Through an examination the major platforms of the LOTH hypothesis, as well as prominent criticisms, this essay examines the extent that Fodor is successful in articulating the existence of a language of thought. Language of Thought Philosophers have formulated LOTH by considering the multiplicity of thoughts, or propositional attitudes. One can identify propositional attitudes in sentences like ‘A wishes that B’, or ‘A thinks that B’, or ‘A intends that B’. A is the subject of attitude, B is the sentence, and ‘that B’ is the proposition or the object of the attitude. If we say that C stands for verbs like ‘wishes’, ‘thinks’, and ‘intends’, then the propositional attitude sentences would take the form: ‘A Cs that B’. Therefore, LOTH can be considered as a hypothesis that features how we create propositional attitudes in our ‘mental language’, and how we relate our thought and thinking with them. Our conceptual thinking takes place in a mental representation of language-like structure; however, this is not direct representation of spoken language. Rather, this ‘language of thought’ is a form of representation where the human mind perceives concepts and symbolizes them rather than using words for those concepts. Hence, the mind uses internal forms of representation, different from traditional linguistic ‘words’, to represent these concepts. Still, these symbols combine to form mental sentences, called the propositional attitudes, which are consistent with the grammatical rules of language. This conceptual thinking has a computational nature that extracts thinking from processing the series of mental symbols according to algorithms. Representational Theory Jerry Fodor specifically implements representational theory in supporting his position (Fodor 1987). According to representational theory, thinking occurs in the form of symbols that are actually the propositional attitudes described earlier (Fodor 1987). While Fodor argues that propositional attitudes should be represented not only as symbols but also as a language, he believes this ‘language of thought’ is different from spoken and written languages like English, French or German (Fodor 1987). Consider the following: ‘I don’t want to eat ladyfingers, so I’d better tell mom to make me French fries.’ According to representational theory, there is a state of a section of this individual’s brain that represents his or her unwillingness to eat ladyfingers (Fodor 1987). There is another section of this individual’s brain that represents his or her way of avoiding ladyfingers; namely, to tell their mom to cook something else (Fodor 1987). Thirdly, there is a small piece of brain circuitry that is linking these two states and instigating an action (Fodor 1987). LOTH asserts that the representation of the decision in this example here has to be structured. That is, it has to be structured just like a sentence articulating that decision. Fodor’s LOTH further states that the structure of symbolic representation in the mind and the linguistic representation of that symbolic representation must be related. That is, the structure of the brain state matching the decision of eating French fries will be equivalent to the structure of the sentence articulating the decision. One considers another example: ‘There is a suspicion crossing my mind that a rat is under my bed’ ...Show more

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Jerry Fodor is a prominent linguistic philosopher and cognitive scientist. Fodor’s linguistic philosophy eschews structural models of language for an approach that builds on Noam Chomsky’s generative grammar…
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Why does J. A. Fodor think that there must be a language of thought Is he right essay example
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