Leibniz and Piccinini versus Jerry Fodor - Is there a language of thought ?
1. Jerry Fodor argues that thoughts have "representations",
namely that there is a language of thought:
In which, as I understand it, computations
are made by the brain presumably semantically
using this language in some analogy to a Turing machine.
2. There is an alternate theory of thinking by Gualteiro Piccinini:
as well as Leibniz, which seems to me to be essentially pragmatic
or or perhaps mechanical, not semantic, so not disimilar to Leibniz's theory of
perceptions and the following of the pre-established order.
as well as this theory can seemingly'be used by any
biological entity, and in Leibniz's case at least, by non-biological
(in the conventional sense) entities.
Both of these seem to follow these steps:
a) the brain perceives a sensory signal and
b) by some mechanism "knows" what it perceives
(forming a representation, a word that Piccinini rejects)
c) which causes it pragmatically to act in an instinctual,
learned or otherwise prescribed fashion.
Here semantics are replaced by functional (pragmatic)
mechanisms. In Leibniz these steps are carried out by
the One which in a) converts a sensory into signal
into a perception and in b) and c) carries out a
prescribed action which biologists might call an instinct
and which Leibniz calls a pre-established harmony.
Dr. Roger B Clough NIST (ret.) [1/1/2000]
See my Leibniz site at
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