Brain, Behaviour and Extensionalism

David Longley David at
Fri Apr 9 15:20:57 EST 2004

In article <k5sd701a2tgvb7hae21iadv37jou4kn7pa at>, JXStern 
<JXSternChangeX2R at> writes
>On Fri, 9 Apr 2004 17:08:02 +0100, David Longley
><David at> wrote:
>>     The easy familiarity of mentalistic talk is not to be trusted."
>>       W.V.O Quine
>>       Mind and Verbal Dispositions p.83-84 and p.94-95
>Yes, but this is exactly why the general works of Quine fell out of
>favor, baby and bathwater together.

It may well have fallen out of favour with some misguided academics who 
have to earn their living peddling mentalistic semantics. That, perhaps, 
was something of a foregone conclusion if you think about it. Quine 
basically blew the whistle on much of philosophy pointing out that it 
was intensional nonsense. This gave vast numbers of professional 
philosophers, linguists and other "cognitivists" nothing to do other 
than play unwelcome handmaidens to empirical scientists.

Where Quine's work proves its mettle is in applied work where mentalism 
invariably proves useless. Believe it or not, it is empirical work that 
really counts.

>I have a theory that my computer contains a program, and Quine's
>behavioristic talk about it just turns out to be flat wrong.

If you just want mental stimulation then perhaps you're better off 
reading Dennett or some of the other imaginative writers in that genre. 
I see no harm in that so long as it is treated as creative writing.

For what it's worth, I reckon it's all just a new genre of fiction, 
targeted at what I suspect might be an essentially well-educated male, 
readership who has grown tired of novels.
David Longley

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list