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By Vincenzo Costa

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3 Though functionalism is often taken to be a naturalist theory inviting a purely physicalist ontology, the historical overview shows that its chief methodological motivation was a practice of logical analysis or clarification that is in fact far removed from empirical work. Attention to functionalism’s method of logically analyzing our terms of mentalistic description therefore suggests its closeness to the central methods of the phenomenological tradition’s conceptual and logical analysis of the structure of Functionalism and Logical Analysis 31 experience.

Its continuities with phenomenology cast light, as well, on another important aspect of the conceptual structure of functionalism. As we have seen, much of the supposed advantage of functionalism over logical behaviorism rested on its ability to capture the results of the empirical investigation of the mind and brain and thereby ensure the possibility of a purely naturalistic method and a physicalist picture of the world. ²⁸ But historical reflection on the development of functionalism shows that this difference is in fact more apparent than real.

See also Ideas I, section 11. 32 Paul Livingston The continuities between phenomenology’s logical investigations of experience and Putnam and Fodor’s functionalism, moreover, are not only conceptual; for a significant line of historical influence on Putnam and Fodor’s method also originates with Husserl’s phenomenology. ’²⁶ In the late 1940s, Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind propounded an influential program for the investigation and clarification of our ordinary concepts of mentality. ²⁷ As we have seen, Putnam and Fodor essentially drew upon the logical behaviorist method of analysis of mentalistic terms in their own development of functionalism, even while repudiating the suggestion of any possibility of reducing the reference of these terms to patterns of behavior.

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Husserl by Vincenzo Costa

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