Fodor, Jerry A.
 
 
(b. 1935-, Ph.D. Philosophy, Princeton, 1960). According to Fodor, "The basic idea in cognitive science is the idea of proof theory, that is, that you can simulate semantic relations - in particular, semantic relations among thoughts - by syntactical process."
 

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From 1959 to 1986 Fodor taught at MIT, first as instructor and then as Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities, and as Associate Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology. From 1969 onward he has been Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology. In 1986, he became Distinguished Professor and in 1988 Adjunct Professor at CUNY Graduate Center. Since 1988, he has been State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. According to Fodor, "the basic question in cognitive science is, How could a mechanism be rational? The serious answer to that question is . . . that it could be rational by being a sort of proof-theoretic device, that is, by being a mechanism that has representational capacities - mental states that represent states of the world - and that can operate on these mental states by virtue of its syntactical properties. The basic idea in cognitive science is the idea of proof theory, that is, that you can simulate semantic relations - in particular, semantic relations among thoughts - by syntactical processes." Fodor first defends this idea in his 1975 book The Language of Thought. He also defends a strong version of faculty psychology, according to which the mind consists of informationally encapsulated, ‘low-level’ perceptual modules which feed information to ‘higher-level’ non-modular cognitive processes, in his 1983 book The Modularity of Mind. According to Fodor, only modular cognitive processes can be studied scientifically. Fodor is also an ardent critic of connectionist models of cognitive phenomena, arguing that they cannot account for the rationality of thought. This criticism is bolstered by Fodor’s endorsement of the strict separation of psychology from neuroscience. According to Fodor, the neurological properties of the brain are irrelevant to its cognitive properties.
 
 
Tadeusz Zawidzki