“This is the way we tie our shoes” by Jerry Fodor
Source: J. Fodor, 1968, “The Appeal to Tacit Knowledge in Psychological Explanation,” The Journal of Philosophy 65: 627-640.
This is the way we tie our shoes:
There is a little man who lives in one’s head. The little man keeps a library. When one acts upon the intention to tie one’s shoes, the little man fetches down a volume entitled Tying One’s Shoes. The volume says such things as: “Take the left free end of the shoelace in the left hand. Cross the left free end of the shoelace over the right free end of the shoelace …, etc.”
When the little man reads the instruction ‘take the left free end of the shoelace in the left hand’, he pushes a button on a control panel. The button is marked ‘take the left free end of a shoelace in the left hand’. When depressed, it activates a series of wheels, cogs, levers, and hydraulic mechanisms. As a causal consequence of the functioning of these mechanisms, one’s left hand comes to seize the appropriate end of the shoelace. Similarly, mutatis mutandis, for the rest of the instructions.
The instructions end with the word ‘end’. When the little man reads the word ‘end’, he returns the book of instructions to his library.
That is the way we tie our shoes.