I have been pretty outspoken on my hostility of accounts of mind that follow the Kantian model. Regardless of where one sides with respect to the realist/anti-realist debate, I still think we’re going to discover that functionalist models of mind are mistaken. In other words, in my view it is still possible for someone to be an anti-realist while rejecting a functionalist model of thought. There is, for example, an anti-realist version of Deleuze that is currently gaining steam through the work of folks like my buddy Joe Hughes. My Difference and Givenness is partially responsible for this reading of Deleuze due to my emphasis on Deleuze’s debt to German idealism through figures like Kant, Maimon, and Schelling. Under this reading, the dispute between Kant and Deleuze is not a dispute between anti-realism and realism, but rather over the role of categories in cognition. For Kant we cannot properly account for the nature of our cognition without positing a priori categories through which intuition or sensibility is synthesized and organized. By contrast, Deleuze, following Solomon Maimon, argues 1) that Kant is unable to provide a non-circular account of how it is possible to synthesize a pure concept with a concrete intuition (the schema just says that such a mediator must exist– the famous time-determinations of the categories –not how it is possible), and 2) that the organization of our experience is instead an emergent result of a differential unconscious, not unlike the role played by Leibniz’s “insensible perceptions” in his New Essays on the Human Understanding.

This debate is not a rarefied philosophical debate between Kant and Deleuze, but rather has a number of implications outside of philosophy. Clearly if one sides with Deleuze, then functionalist accounts of mind such as we find in Fodor with his “language of thought” or Chomsky with his “deep” or “universal grammar” will be unacceptable. At any rate, in response to my post “Taking Problems Seriously“, Rob and I have been having a bit of a debate regarding Chomsky and functionalist accounts of mind. Rob contends that there are mountains of experimental evidence for Chomsky’s linguistics, though this is not the impression that I’ve gotten (i.e., Chomsky and the Chomskyians, as I understand it, are primarily theoretical linguistics that then interpret data according to their model, not unlike the manner in which Friedmannian economists proceed). However, I am certainly no expert on these issues. At any rate, the anthropologist Timothy Mason of Paris VIII has been kind enough to compile a list of links with critical perspectives on Chomsky. Enjoy!

Advertisements