How do we acquire knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of others? Knowing Other Minds brings together ten original essays that address various questions in philosophy and in empirical cognitive science which arise from our everyday social interaction with other people.
A comprehensive account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders. In Scaffolded Minds, Somogy Varga offers a novel account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders. The book is part of the growing philosophical engagement with empirically informed philosophy of mind, which studies the interfaces between philosophy and cognitive science. Varga draws on two recent shifts within empirically informed philosophy of mind: the first, toward an intensified study of the embodied mind; and the second, toward a study of the disordered mind that acknowledges the convergence of the explanatory concerns of psychiatry and interdisciplinary inquiries into the mind. Varga sets out to accomplish a dual task: theoretical mapping of cognitive scaffolding; and the application/calibration of fine-grained philosophical distinctions to empirical research. He introduces the notion of actively scaffolded cognition (ASC) and offers a taxonomy that distinguishes between intrasomatic and extrasomatic scaffolding. He then shows that ASC offers a productive framework for considering certain characteristic features of mental disorders, focusing on altered bodily experience and social cognition deficits. With Cognitive Scaffolding, Varga aims to establish that shifting attention from mental symptoms to fine-grained sensorimotor aspects can lead to identifying diagnostic subtypes or even specific sensorimotor markers for early diagnosis.
The need to understand human social life is basic to our human nature and fuels a life-long quest that we begin in early childhood. Key to this quest is trying to fathom our inner mental states--our hopes, plans, wants, thoughts, and emotions. Scientists deem this developing a "theory of mind." In Reading Minds, Henry Wellman tells the story of our journey into that understanding. Our hard-won, everyday comprehension of people and minds is not spoon-fed or taught. Each of us creates a wide-ranging theory of mind step-by-step and uses it to understand how all people work. Failure to learn these steps cripples a child, and ultimately an adult, in areas as diverse as interacting socially, creating a coherent life story, enjoying drama and movies, and living on one's own. Progressing along these steps--as most of us do--allows us to see the nature of our shared humanity, to understand our children and our childhood selves, to teach and to learn from others, and to better navigate and make sense of our social world. Theory of mind is basic to why some of us become religious believers and others atheists, why some of us become novelists and all of us love stories, why some love scary movies and some hate them. Reading Minds illuminates how we develop this theory of mind as children, how that defines us as individuals, and ultimately how it defines us as human.