Schneider on The Language of Thought

Susan Schneider’s provocative book on the Language of Thought is forthcoming from MIT Press in April 2011.  It’s also posted on her website .  Feel free to take a look at it and get back to her.  She told me she’d love to have your feedback.


  1. Joshua Stern

    I only wish I had the time to read carefully and respond at length, but I will however briefly endorse Schneider’s view of Fodor, and her project of rescuing LOT from Fodor’s self-skepticism, and say that I endorse overall her steps in doing so. HOWEVER with a big but, which is that in her new appeal to computation Schneider does not much mention – computers! Instead, she mentions neuroscience. Well, one is going to have to study neuroscience very deeply indeed before one is ready to write a short Java program or web site, which are typical examplars of our computational world today.

    My problem with Fodor’s skepticism about mind computationalism, is that just as others’ skepticism about mind computationalism, it implies a skepticism about computation per se – which is grossly at odds with the modern world and this keyboard I am typing on. Only by adopting Searle’s skepticism about computation does skepticism about LOT and CTM make any sense (I give Searle that much credit for consistency, if not common sense).

    So, while at first glance I heartily endorse what I read in Schneider, it stops short of explaining in computational terms, what a LOT could be or must be or blatently is, if computers work. Which I suggest they do. If minds work, which I also believe is the case, and minds are computational – well, we are still waiting for that full story to be told.

    But great thanks to Schneider for resuscitating LOT after Fodor’s recent LOT2, which threatened to bury it.

    (now, I wish I had time to read the chapter on Frege cases, which Fodor *does* treat with proper (IMHO) skepticism on LOT2, my quick glance at Schneider’s chapter here did not correspond with my recollection of the material in LOT 2)

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