Diversity and unity of modularity

Cogn Sci. 2006 Mar 4;30(2):347-80. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog0000_52.


Since the publication of Fodor's (1983) The Modularity of Mind, there have been quite a few discussions of cognitive modularity among cognitive scientists. Generally, in those discussions, modularity means a property of specialized cognitive processes or a domain-specific body of information. In actuality, scholars understand modularity in many different ways. Different characterizations of modularity and modules were proposed and discussed, but they created misunderstanding and confusion. In this article, I classified and analyzed different approaches to modularity and argued for the unity of modularity. Modularity is a multidimensional property consisting of features from several dimensions specifying different aspects of cognition. Among those, there are core features of modularity, and these core features form a cross-dimensional unity. Despite the diverse and liberal characterizations, modularity contributes to cognitive science because of the unity of the core features.