The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

David F. Wolf II
Pages 234-239

Why Granny Should Have Read French Philosophers
The Phenomenology of Fodor or the Modularity of Merleau-Ponty

In 1983, Fodor’s Modularity of Mind popularized faculty psychology. His theory employs a trichotomous functional architecture to explain cognitive processes, which is very similar to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception. Each theory postulates that perception is a mid-level procedure that operates on transduced information and that perception is independent of our cognitive experience. The two theories differ on whether perception is informationally impenetrable. This difference is essentially an empirical matter. However, I suggest that Merleau-Ponty’s allowance of cross-modal communication within perception explains our ability to identify features in noisy backgrounds better because his theory offers a more definitive ontology that matches human substantive behavior. Likewise, evidence within cognitive science suggests that Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology is a more accurate depiction of human cognitive processes.