In Memoriam

  • Portrait
  • Jerry Fodor
  • Specialties: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Language, and Philosophy of Science


Jerry Fodor's arrival at Rutgers in 1987 catapulted our department to the top ranks, and his presence then helped attract many other outstanding philosophers and cognitive scientists to Rutgers. With his sharp sense of humor, his provocative, larger-than-life personality, and his professional renown, he was a cornerstone of the department throughout his time here.

Fodor was the most important philosopher of psychology of his generation. He played a crucial role in reversing the Rylean and Wittgensteinian tide that engulfed philosophy of mind in the 1960s. In his seminal 1975 book, The Language of Thought, Fodor developed an alternative: the computational-representation theory of mind, which took intentional mental processes seriously. It provided a framework both for the resolution of many traditional problems in the philosophy of mind, and for actual psychological research and experimentation, some of which Fodor himself pursued in the areas of modularity and natural language processing. In subsequent work he put the problem of naturalizing mental content in the forefront of research in philosophy of mind.