Putting Concepts to Work: Some Thoughts for the Twentyfirst Century



Abstract:  Fodor's theory makes thinking prior to doing. It allows for an inactive agent or pure reflector, and for agents whose actions in various ways seem to float free of their own conceptual repertoires. We show that naturally evolved creatures are not like that. In the real world, thinking is always and everywhere about doing. The point of having a brain is to guide the actions of embodied beings in a complex material world. Some of those actions are, to be sure, more recondite than others. But in every case the contents of thoughts still look to depend, in some non-unique but vitally important way, on the kinds of doings they support.