This book provides a sustained and penetrating critique of a wide range of views in modern cognitive science and philosophy of the mind, from Turing's famous test for intelligence in machines to recent work in computational linguistic theory.
While discussing many of the key arguments and topics, the authors also develop a distinctive analytic approach. Drawing on the methods of conceptual analysis first elaborated by Wittgenstein and Ryle, the authors seek to show that these methods still have a great deal to offer in the field of the cognitive theory and the philosophy of mind, providing a powerful alternative to many of the positions put forward in the contemporary literature.
Amoung the many issues discussed in the book are the following: the Cartesian roots of modern conceptions of mind; Searle's 'Chinese Room' thought experiment; Fodor's 'language of thought' hypothesis; the place of 'folk psychology' in cognitivist thought; and the question of whether any machine may be said to 'think' or 'understand' in the ordinary senses of these words.
Wide ranging, up-to-date and forcefully argued, this book represents a major intervention in contemporary debates about the status of cognitive science an the nature of mind. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars in philosophy, psychology, linguistics and computing sciences.
'This is an extremely important book. It makes the best possible
case one could for restoring Wittgenstein and Ryle to their proper
places as leading thinkers on the mind-body problem by
demonstrating the relevance of their arguments and philosophical
techniques for some of the most hotly debated topics in
contemporary cognitive science' S. G. Shanker, York
'The book is wonderfully clearly written, admirable in its
technical command of the issues, and informed throughout by a deep
understanding of the philosophical psychology of Ryle and
Wittgenstein.... We can only hope that this devastating critique
will be read and digested by all those in philosophy, psychology
and cognitive science who may yet be spared the dangerous and
grandiose illusions exposed in this important book.' Rom Harre,
University of Oxford and University of Georgetown
'This highly readable book advances the proposition that 'the'
problem of mind and accompanying efforts at a commensurate theory
be effectively dis-solved. The authors bring both a sociological
eye and a disciplinary agnosticism to their task, as they survey a
broad terrain of related debates within philosophy, linguistics and
cognitive science. Along the way, they present carefully researched
arguments to the effect that language, learning, intelligence and
interaction become scientific problems requiring theoretical
solution only by being wrenched from the historically and
culturally constituted worlds of practical human activity that give
rise to and animate them. Restored to those worlds, they argue that
each of these areas evidences differences between humans and
machines that have mattered to us, and will continue to do so'
Lucy Suchman, Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre