Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement

Papers

Language, Thought and Compositionality

Jerry Fodor

Consider the task under which I labour: These are supposed to be talks in the millennial spirit. My charge is to find, somewhere in the philosophical landscape, a problem of whose current status I can give some coherent account, and to point the direction in which it seems to me that further research might usefully proceed, And I'm to try to sound reasonably cheerful and optimistic in the course of doing so. No sooner did I begin to ponder these terms of engagement, than it occurred to me that cheer and optimism aren't really my thing; also that I hadn't heard of a topic in the philosophy of mind (which is the only part of philosophy that even I think that I know anything about) which seems to me to be other than a godawful mess. It struck me that my best course would be for me to change my name and go into hiding. Thus my first choice of a title for this lecture, which was ‘To Be Announced’.

Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University.