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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262062121 | 144 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | July 2000
Paperback | $20.00 Short | £13.95 | ISBN: 9780262561464 | 144 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | July 2001
Ebook | $14.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262315524 | 144 pp. | July 2001
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The Mind Doesn't Work That Way

The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology


In this engaging book, Jerry Fodor argues against the widely held view that mental processes are largely computations, that the architecture of cognition is massively modular, and that the explanation of our innate mental structure is basically Darwinian. Although Fodor has praised the computational theory of mind as the best theory of cognition that we have got, he considers it to be only a fragment of the truth. In fact, he claims, cognitive scientists do not really know much yet about how the mind works (the book's title refers to Steve Pinker's How the Mind Works).

Fodor's primary aim is to explore the relationship among computational and modular theories of mind, nativism, and evolutionary psychology. Along the way, he explains how Chomsky's version of nativism differs from that of the widely received New Synthesis approach. He concludes that although we have no grounds to suppose that most of the mind is modular, we have no idea how nonmodular cognition could work. Thus, according to Fodor, cognitive science has hardly gotten started.

About the Author

Jerry A. Fodor is State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology (MIT Press) and other books.


The Mind Doesn't Work Way obliges us to dismiss simplistic assumptions and focus on the hard issues we often hide under the rug. This book is an important as Modularity of Mind was almost twenty years ago.”
Jacques Mehler, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
“For a close to a quarter of a century, Jerry Fodor has been delighting his friends and confounding his enemies in his take-no-prisoners campaign on behalf of the computational theory of cognition, the modularity of mind, and the innateness hypothesis. Many cognitive scientists have been won over and have sent as their goal a comprehensive theory of mind that rests on just these ideas. In this forcefully argued monograph, Fodor confounds these friends by making the case that this trio of ideas cannot explain what may be the most distinctive aspect of our mental life: its global flexibility.”
Jerry Samet, Department of Philosophy, Brandeis University