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Patricia Churchland's Review of The Stuff of Thought
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MindBlog also thankfully reposts Patricia Churchland's "review" of Stephen Pinker's The Stuff of Thought.

Here's an excerpt:

Indeed, it is essentially font-change semantics that Pinker defends and deploys in his latest engaging doorstop, The Stuff of Thought. He has revised a few features, but the core ideas — innateness ad libitum, and the quest for the nature of thought in the analysis of language — are intact. Like his earlier books The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate, The Stuff of Thought has very little to do with the stuff with which we think — namely, neurons.

Yowch. She called his book "an engaging doorstop," but I wonder if the word "engaging" is meant facetiously or not, because I wonder if she actually read the book. This is about all she has to say about the actual contents of the book. The rest of her comments are basically advocating neural approaches to understanding cognition, although she throws this appeal to various levels of description in at the end:

To figure out how brains actually think and what reasoning really amounts to, we need to focus on understanding their many levels of organization, from neurons to large-scale systems to behaviour.

Does she really mean that? If so, then why is she so hostile to a level of analysis that doesn't delve down to the scale of neurons?

The MindBlog link has links to replies by Marc Hauser and Stephen Pinker, both calling her to task for not actually, you know, reviewing the book.

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