Does semantics run the psyche?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (June):687-700 (1989)
If there is a dogma in the contemporary philosophy of the cognitive mind, it must be the notion that cognition is semantic causation or, differently put, that it is semantics that runs the psyche. This is what the notion of psychosemantics and (often) intentionality are all about. Another dogma, less widespread than the first but almost equally potent, is that common sense psychology is the implicit theory of psychosemantics. The two dogmas are jointly encapsulated in the following axiom. Mental attitudes such as beliefs and desires have essentially semantic contents, or are semantically evaluable. (This is why they are called propositional attitudes.) Mental attitudes have causal powers in virtue of their semantic properties. The content of an attitude has causal powers qua semantic, or more exactly in virtue of its syntactic structure which reflects relevant semantic properties and relations. (Propositions attitudinized cause in virtue of their semantically sensitive syntax.) It is the fact that mental attitudes cause in virtue of being semantic that explains why the cognitive mind is essentially semantic and why common sense psychology is implicitly true of the semantic mind.
Keywords Metaphysics  Mind  Psyche  Semantics  Fodor, J
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