Thursday, November 30, 2017
Jerry Fodor died yesterday
Jerry Fodor was one of the great analytic philosophers of his era, and that is saying a lot. Contemporaries include, Hilary Putnam, Robert Nozick, David Lewis, and Saul Kripke. In my opinion, his work will be profitably read for a very long time, and with constant amusement and provocation. Fodor was unique. He never avoided the deep issues, never avoided a good joke or trenchant jab. He always saw to the nub of the matter. And he was a philosopher whose work mattered for the practice of science. He made innumerable contributions to cognitive psychology (most of whose points psychologists would profit from reading still) and linguistics (not the least of which is insisting that we never confuse metaphysical issues (what is the case) with epistemological ones (how do we know that what is the case is the case)). He led the good fight against Empiricism (started early and never relented) in all it guises (behaviorism, connectionism, radical versions of natural selection) and his papers are still worth reading again and again and again today. He will be missed. Philosophy will be both duller and less illuminating without his constant contributions.