Modularity of mind

From Academic Kids

Modularity of Mind is the notion that a mind may be composed of modules, at least in part.

Proponents believe this view is implied by Noam Chomsky's concept of a universal, generative grammar. Such features of language imply there's an underlying "language acquisition device" structure in the brain. This device is postulated to be autonomous and specialized for learning language rapidly; a module.

Fodor's modularity of mind

Drawing from Chomsky and other evidence from linguistics as well as implications from optical illusions and philosophy of mind, Jerry Fodor became one of the most articulate proponents for modularity of mind with the 1983 publication of his monograph Modularity of Mind. Although he argued for the modularity of 'lower level' cognitive processes in Modularity of Mind he also argued that higher level cognitive processes are not modular since they have dissimilar properties. The Mind Doesn't Work That Way, a reaction to Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works, is devoted to this subject.

Fodor (1983) states that modular systems must fulfil certain properties:

  1. Domain specificity, modules only operate on certain kinds of inputs they are specialised
  2. Informational encapsulation, modules need not refer to other psychological systems in order to operate
  3. Obligatory firing, modules process in a mandatory manner
  4. Fast speed, probably due to the fact that they are encapsulated (thereby needing only to consult a restricted database) and mandatory (time need not be wasted in determining whether or not to process incoming input)
  5. Shallow outputs, the output of modules is very simple
  6. Limited inaccessibility
  7. Characteristic ontogeny, there is a regularity of development
  8. Fixed neural architecture.

References

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