[ExI] Functionalism and Lakoff

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Thu Feb 9 14:05:09 UTC 2012

2012/2/8 Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc>

> Has anyone read George Lakoff’s writings on functionalism?  His essay
> “Philosophy in the Flesh” is Brockman’s *The Mind: Leading Scientists
> Explore the Brain*, dismisses functionalism as Putman’s former interest,
> which he later dismissed and argued against. Lakoff claims that the mind is
> studied in terms of its cognitive functions independently of the brain and
> body.  How can this be possible?  If the mind is what the brain does (More)
> and the brain is an organ of the body, then how can Lakoff make this claim?
> It seems absurd to me and misleading.

Mmhhh. A "weaker" form of functionalism might however just imply that we
can study - and perhaps replicate - cognitive functions under a "black box"

Take for instance a microprocessor. If I copy the relevant lithographic
masks I am in breach of the relevant special IP rights.

But I can also map its responses to all possible inputs, and (try and)
re-design a functionally equivalent processor that will be compatible with
the first, and exhibit its features entirely irrespective of the internal
structure and working of the first processor.

Of course, speaking of minds, nothing guarantees that such an attempt is
going to be successful, and - even more importantly - that I am going to
end up with something with a performance even vaguely comparable with the
original system, that is the organic brain of which I am trying to emulate
the functions.

Stefano Vaj
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