We can know some things about each others' mental lives. The view that some of this knowledge is genuinely perceptual is getting traction. But the idea that we can see any of each others' mental states themselves - the Simple Perceptual Hypothesis - remains unpopular. Very often the view that we can perceptually know, for example, that James is angry, is thought to depend either on our awareness of James' expression or on the way James appears - versions of what (...) I call the Expressive Hypothesis. The Expressive Hypothesis is intuitive. But in this chapter I argue that it does not allow us to do away with the thought that we sometimes perceive people's mental states. I take my arguments to provide some tentative support for the Simple Perceptual Hypothesis. (shrink)
In his The Nature of Sympathy, Max Scheler (2007 ) offers an intriguing, if puzzling, account of empathy. According to this account, empathy is a specific kind of feeling through which we are immediately aware of others’ emotions but which is not itself an emotion and doesn’t require us to have those emotions ourselves. Moreover, qua immediate awareness of others’ emotions empathy is supposed to afford understanding why they feel those emotions. Although having echoes with ordinary discourse and experience, Scheler's (...) proposal has met with some scepticism. In this chapter, the author defends Scheler's conception against two key objections, which target its coherence. According to the first, it is difficult to see how one could feel another's emotion without having her emotion oneself. The second objection focuses on the claim that feeling-after is a form of understanding. Since feeling-after is a direct awareness of another's emotion and, as such, does not seem to provide access to the reasons for which she feels it, it is hard to see how it could make her emotion intelligible to us. The author argues that these objections fail since they confuse different forms of feeling and do not appreciate the constitutive connection between emotions and reasons, respectively. (shrink)
How children seek knowledge and evaluate claims may depend on their understanding of the source of knowledge. What shifts in their understandings about why scientists might disagree and how claims about the state of the world are justified? Until about the age of 41/2, knowledge is seen as self-evident. Children believe that knowledge of reality comes directly through our senses and what others tell us. They appeal to these external sources in order to know. The attainment of Theory of Mind (...) (ToM) at this age is commonly seen as the significant shift in development in understanding disagreements in knowledge claims. Children attaining ToM understand that someone exposed to incorrect or incomplete information might have false beliefs. Disagreement, then, is still attributed to objective sources of knowledge. The current study examines the later developing Interpretive Theory of Mind (iToM) as the basis for children’s understanding of how people with access to the same information might disagree and what this means for how to provide justification for a knowledge claim. Fourteen 2nd graders with the most iToM responses to four tasks and 14 with the fewest iToM responses were selected from a larger sample of 91. In analyses of interviews about a story in which two experts make different claims about a scientific phenomenon, those in the high iToM group noted subjective perspective and processes as the source of disagreement and suggested the need for investigation as the means to knowing. In contrast, those in the low iToM group mostly could not explain the source of disagreement and held that knowledge is acquired from external sources. A comparison of the interviews regarding the science story 2 years later allows for a qualitative description of the development. Those in the low iToM group showed more general recognition of subjective and constructive processes in knowing whereas those in the high iToM group identified interpretive processes and the relativity of perspectives with implications for how observations were conducted and interpreted. Only those in the high iToM group referred to the importance of evidence as a basis for knowledge claims at either point in the study. (shrink)
The traditional problem of other minds is epistemological. What justification can be given for thinking that the world is populated with other minds? More recently, some philosophers have argued for a second problem of other minds that is conceptual. How can we conceive of the point of view of another mind in relation to our own? This article retraces the logic of the epistemological and conceptual problems, and it argues for a third problem of other minds. This is the phenomenological (...) problem which concerns the philosophical question of experience. How is another mind experienced as another mind? The article offers dialectical and motivational justification for regarding these as three distinct problems. First, it argues that while the phenomenological problem cannot be reduced to the other problems, it is logically presupposed by them. Second, the article examines how the three problems are motivated by everyday experiences in three distinct ways. (shrink)
‘How, then, she had asked herself, did one know one thing or another thing about people, sealed as they were?’ So asks Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse. It is this question, rather than any concern about pretence or deception, which forms the basis for the philosophical problem of other minds. Responses to this problem have tended to cluster around two solutions: either we know others’ minds through perception; or we know others’ minds through a form of inference. In the (...) first part of this paper I argue that this debate is best understood as concerning the question of whether our knowledge of others’ minds is based on perception or based on evidence. In the second part of the paper I suggest that our ordinary ways of thinking take our knowledge of others’ minds to be both non- evidential and non-perceptual. A satisfactory resolution to the philosophical problem of other minds thus requires us to take seriously the idea that we have a way of knowing about others’ minds which is both non-evidential and non-perceptual. I suggest that our knowledge of others’ minds which is based on their expressions – our expressive knowledge - may fit this bill. (shrink)
Although enactive approaches to cognition vary in terms of their character and scope, all endorse several core claims. The first is that cognition is tied to action. The second is that cognition is composed of more than just in-the-head processes; cognitive activities are externalized via features of our embodiment and in our ecological dealings with the people and things around us. I appeal to these two enactive claims to consider a view called “direct social perception” : the idea that we (...) can sometimes perceive features of other minds directly in the character of their embodiment and environmental interactions. I argue that if DSP is true, we can probably also perceive certain features of mental disorders as well. I draw upon the developmental psychologist Daniel Stern’s notion of “forms of vitality”—largely overlooked in these debates—to develop this idea, and I use autism as a case study. I argue further that an enactive approach to DSP can clarify some ways we play a regulative role in shaping the temporal and phenomenal character of the disorder in question, and it may therefore have practical significance for both the clinical and therapeutic encounter. (shrink)
I argue that we sometimes visually perceive the intentions of others. Just as we can see something as blue or as moving to the left, so too can we see someone as intending to evade detection or as aiming to traverse a physical obstacle. I consider the typical subject presented with the Heider and Simmel movie, a widely studied ‘animacy’ stimulus, and I argue that this subject mentally attributes proximal intentions to some of the objects in the movie. I further (...) argue that these attributions are unrevisable in a certain sense and that this result can be used to as part of an argument that these attributions are not post-perceptual thoughts. Finally, I suggest that if these attributions are visual experiences, and more particularly visual illusions, their unrevisability can be satisfyingly explained, by appealing to the mechanisms which underlie visual illusions more generally. (shrink)
It is a simple truth about the English language that we can see or hear or feel what others are thinking or feeling. But it is tempting to think that there is a deeper sense in which we cannot really see or hear or feel these things at all. Rather, what is involved must be a matter of inference or interpretation, for instance. In these remarks, I argue against a variety of ways in which that thought, the thought that we (...) cannot really see or hear or feel what others are thinking or feeling, might be developed. (shrink)
According to the perceptual model, our knowledge of others' minds is a form of perceptual knowledge. We know, for example, that Jones is angry because we can literally see that he is. In this essay, I argue that mental states do not have the kind of distinctive looks that could sufficiently justify perceptual knowledge of others’ mentality. I present a puzzle that can arise with respect to mental states that I claim does not arise for non-mental properties like being an (...) apple and argue that this is explained by the fact that the looks of non-mental properties adhere to a certain explanatory principle that does not hold for mental states. This shows, I argue, that, even if we think mental states do have looks, these cannot offer sufficient grounds for perceptual knowledge of others' minds. In the final section of the essay, I suggest an alternative way of thinking about our knowledge of others' minds and about the sorts of looks or appearances that might be associated with mental states. (shrink)
The psychology and phenomenology of our knowledge of other minds is not well captured either by describing it simply as perception, nor by describing it simply as inference. A better description, I argue, is that our knowledge of other minds involves both through ‘perceptual co-presentation’, in which we experience objects as having aspects that are not revealed. This allows us to say that we perceive other minds, but perceive them as private, i.e. imperceptible, just as we routinely perceive aspects of (...) physical objects as unperceived. I discuss existing versions of this idea, particularly Joel Smith’s, on which it is taken to imply that our knowledge of other minds is, in these cases, perceptual and not inferential. Against this, I argue that perceptual co-presentation in general, and mind-perception in particular, yields knowledge that is simultaneously both perceptual and inferential. (shrink)
Direct Perception is the view that we can see others' mental states, i.e. that we perceive others' mental states with the same immediacy and directness that we perceive ordinary objects in the world. I evaluate Direct Perception by considering whether we can see intentions, a particularly promising candidate for Direct Perception. I argue that the view equivocates on the notion of intention. Disambiguating the Direct Perception claim reveals a troubling dilemma for the view: either it is banal or highly implausible.
Although many cases of knowledge require careful, conscious deliberation, knowledge of other minds is different, for it requires in some sense that we not think too much about it. The primary way that we come to know what others are thinking is by interacting with them, and the interactive context requires real-time engagement such that conscious intellectual deliberation is disruptive in that it disturbs the flow of the interaction. Understanding that part of what we know when we know others comes (...) from nonpropositional, noncognitive know-how in a joint context can help elucidate the common wisdom behind the claims about how we should not overthink our interactions with other people. (shrink)
I outline an account of perceptual knowledge and assess the extent to which it can be employed in a defence of perceptual accounts of emotion and value recognition. I argue that considerations ruling out lucky knowledge give us some reason to doubt its prospects in the case of value recognition. I also discuss recent empirical work on cultural and contextual influences on emotional expression, arguing that a perceptual account of value recognition is consistent with current evidence.
In this paper I defend the claim that testimony can serve as a basic source of knowledge of other people’s mental lives against the objection that testimonial knowledge presupposes knowledge of other people’s mental lives and therefore can’t be used to explain it.
The direct social perception thesis claims that we can directly perceive some mental states of other people. The direct perception of mental states has been formulated phenomenologically and psychologically, and typically restricted to the mental state types of intentions and emotions. I will compare DSP to another account of mindreading: dual process accounts that posit a fast, automatic “Type 1” form of mindreading and a slow, effortful “Type 2” form. I will here analyze whether dual process accounts’ Type 1 mindreading (...) serves as a rival to DSP or whether some Type 1 mindreading can be perceptual. I will focus on Apperly and Butterfill’s dual process account of mindreading epistemic states such as perception, knowledge, and belief. This account posits a minimal form of Type 1 mindreading of belief-like states called registrations. I will argue that general dual process theories fit well with a modular view of perception that is considered a kind of Type 1 process. I will show that this modular view of perception challenges and has significant advantages over DSP’s phenomenological and psychological theses. Finally, I will argue that if such a modular view of perception is accepted, there is significant reason for thinking Type 1 mindreading of belief-like states is perceptual in nature. This would mean extending the scope of DSP to at least one type of epistemic state. (shrink)
Our knowledge of each others’ mental features is sometimes epistemically basic or non-inferential. The alternative to this claim is Inferentialism, the view that such knowledge is always epistemically inferential. Here, I argue that Inferentialism is not plausible. My argument takes the form of an inference to the best explanation. Given the nature of the task involved in recognizing what mental features others have on particular occasions, and our capacity to perform that task, we should not expect always to find good (...) inferential explanations of our knowledge. This conclusion is an epistemological one. The motivation for it is independent of metaphysical concerns about functionalism or about the best way to model the cognitive architecture which produces our knowledge of others’ minds. Given this it is compatible both with the truth of functionalism and theory–theory construed as a cognitive model. (shrink)
There has been recent interest in the hypothesis that we can directly perceive some of each other’s mental features. One popular strategy for defending that hypothesis is to claim that some mental features are embodied in a way that makes them available to perception. Here I argue that this view would imply a particular limit on the kinds of mental feature that would be perceptible (§2). I sketch reasons for thinking that the view is not yet well-motivated (§3). And I (...) present an alternative, epistemological strategy (§4). The epistemological strategy is to discern which features of our environment are perceptible by reflection on our capacity to identify them. If the epistemological strategy is accepted it becomes plausible that we sometimes directly perceive some of each other’s mental features. But it becomes implausible to suppose that our perceptual access is limited in the way the embodied view would imply. I end by sketching reasons to think that we sometimes directly perceive each other’s desires (§5). (shrink)
I defend a perceptual account of face-to-face mindreading. I begin by proposing a phenomenological constraint on our visual awareness of others' emotional expressions. I argue that to meet this constraint we require a distinction between the basic and non-basic ways people, and other things, look. I offer and defend just such an account.
Direct Social Perception (DSP) is the idea that we can non-inferentially perceive others’ mental states. In this paper, I argue that the standard way of framing DSP leaves the debate at an impasse. I suggest two alternative interpretations of the idea that we see others’ mental states: others’ mental states are represented in the content of our perception, and we have basic perceptual beliefs about others’ mental states. I argue that the latter interpretation of DSP is more promising and examine (...) the kinds of mental states that plausibly could satisfy this version of DSP. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to situate the thought of Tetsurō Watsuji within contemporary approaches to social cognition. I argue for Watsuji’s current relevance, suggesting that his analysis of embodiment and social space puts him in step with some of the concerns driving ongoing treatments of social cognition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Yet, as I will show, Watsuji can potentially offer a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. This is because (...) Watsuji challenges the internalist and cognitivist presuppositions informing the currently dominant “Theory of Mind” paradigm that is driving much social cognition research. Additionally, I show that Watsuji’s alternative model is not merely confined to the realm of phenomenological description but that it also receives robust empirical support from a number of different sources. I thus hope to open up aspects of Watsuji’s thinking that have yet to be fully appreciated. (shrink)
This essay brings Emmanuel Levinas and Watsuji Tetsurō into constructive philosophical engagement. Rather than focusing primarily on interpretation — admittedly an important dimension of comparative philosophical inquiry — my intention is to put their respective views to work, in tandem, and address the problem of the embodied social self.1 Both Watsuji and Levinas share important commonalities with respect to the embodied nature of intersubjectivity —commonalities that, moreover, put both thinkers in step with some of the concerns driving current treatments of (...) social cognition in philosophy and cognitive science. They can make a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. Each in their own way challenges the internalist and cognitivist presuppositions informing the currently dominant “Theory of Mind” paradigm driving much social cognition research. Moreover, their respective views receive empirical support from a number of different sources. (shrink)
We resist Schilbach et al.’s characterization of the “social perception” approach to social cognition as a “spectator theory” of other minds. We show how the social perception view acknowledges the crucial role interaction plays in enabling social understanding. We also highlight a dilemma Schilbach et al. face in attempting to distinguish their second person approach from the social perception view.
Empathy as “Feelingly Grasping” Perhaps the central question concerning empathy is if and if so how it combines aspects of thinking and feeling. Indeed, the intellectual tradition of the past centuries has been marked by a dualism. Roughly speaking, there have been two pathways when it comes to understanding each other: 1) thinking or mind reading and 2) feeling or empathy. Nonetheless, one of the ongoing debates in psychology and philosophy concerns the question whether these two abilities, namely, understanding what (...) the other is thinking and “understanding” what the other is feeling, are separate or not. Most of the authors in this volume consider the cognitive and affective dimensions at work within empathy. Each author does this within and beyond their own field. Coming from the humanities, we propose the following definition for empathy: Empathy is a social feeling that consists in feelingly grasping or retracing the present, future, or past emotional state of the other; thus empathy is also called a vicarious emotion. We would like to highlight two aspects of this definition in particular: 1.) the peculiar position of “grasping” which involves a cognitive dimension and 2.) the social dimensions of relating to the emotions of another human being. (shrink)
Much recent work on empathy in philosophy of mind and cognitive science has been guided by the assumption that minds are composed of intracranial phenomena, perceptually inaccessible and thus unobservable to everyone but their owners. I challenge this claim. I defend the view that at least some mental states and processes—or at least some parts of some mental states and processes—are at times visible, capable of being directly perceived by others. I further argue that, despite its initial implausibility, this view (...) receives robust support from several strands of empirical research. (shrink)
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge or rational (...) justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). (shrink)
The Perceptual Hypothesis is that we sometimes see, and thereby have non-inferential knowledge of, others' mental features. The Perceptual Hypothesis opposes Inferentialism, which is the view that our knowledge of others' mental features is always inferential. The claim that some mental features are embodied is the claim that some mental features are realised by states or processes that extend beyond the brain. The view I discuss here is that the Perceptual Hypothesis is plausible if, but only if, the mental features (...) it claims we see are suitably embodied. Call this Embodied Perception Theory. I argue that Embodied Perception Theory is false. It doesn't follow that the Perceptual Hypothesis is implausible. The considerations which serve to undermine Embodied Perception Theory serve equally to undermine the motivations for assuming that others' mental lives are always imperceptible. (shrink)
Scepticism is sometimes expressed about whether there is any interesting problem of other minds. In this paper I set out a version of the conceptual problem of other minds which turns on the way in which mental occurrences are presented to the subject and situate it in relation to debates about our knowledge of other people's mental lives. The result is a distinctive problem in the philosophy of mind concerning our relation to other people.
Everything is in motion. "Inertness" arises from (approximative) repetition, that is, through rotation or an alternation that delineates a focus of consciousness. This focus of consciousness, in turn, must also move/alternate (the two differ only in continuity). If its alternation seems to go too far - physically, psychically or intellectually - it reaches into the subconscious. In this way, interconnection is established by the alternation of the focus of consciousness. Therefore, in a world in which everything is interconnected, all focuses (...) must reciprocally transition into each other. "Reality" is a common "goal", a focus which all participants can switch into and which is conscious to them as such, as a potential one. Its "degree of reality" is the probability of its fully becoming conscious (or more simply: its current degree of consciousness). Thus, a reality is created when all participants increase its probability or, respectively, their consciousness of it. (shrink)
The extended mind thesis (EM) asserts that some cognitive processes are (partially) composed of actions consisting of the manipulation and exploitation of environmental structures. Might some processes at the root of social cognition have a similarly extended structure? In this paper, I argue that social cognition is fundamentally an interactive form of space management—the negotiation and management of ‘‘we-space”—and that some of the expressive actions involved in the negotiation and management of we-space (gesture, touch, facial and whole-body expressions) drive basic (...) processes of interpersonal understanding and thus do genuine social-cognitive work. Social interaction is a kind of extended social cognition, driven and at least partially constituted by environmental (non-neural) scaffolding. Challenging the Theory of Mind paradigm, I draw upon research from gesture studies, developmental psychology, and work on Moebius Syndrome to support this thesis. (shrink)
What do we see when we look at someone's expression of fear? I argue that one of the things that we see is fear itself. I support this view by developing a theory of affect perception. The theory involves two claims. One is that expressions are patterns of facial changes that carry information about affects. The other is that the visual system extracts and processes such information. In particular, I argue that the visual system functions to detect the affects of (...) others when they are expressed in the face. I develop my theory by drawing on empirical data from psychology and brain science. Finally, I outline a theory of the semantics of affect perception. (shrink)
I argue that it is possible literally to perceive the emotions of others. This account depends upon the possibility of perceiving a whole by perceiving one or more of its parts, and upon the view that emotions are complexes. After developing this account, I expound and reply to Rowland Stout's challenge to it. Stout is nevertheless sympathetic with the perceivability-of-emotions view. I thus scrutinize Stout's suggestion for a better defence of that view than I have provided, and offer a refinement (...) of my own proposal that incorporates some of his insights. (shrink)
Abstract: Some propose that the question of how you know that James is angry can be adequately answered with the claim that you see that James is angry. Call this the Perceptual Hypothesis. Here, I examine that hypothesis. I argue that there are two different ways in which the Perceptual Hypothesis could be made true. You might see that James is angry by seeing his bodily features. Alternatively, you might see that James is angry by seeing his anger. If you (...) see that James is angry in the first way, your knowledge is inferential. If you see that James is angry in the second way, your knowledge is not inferential. These are different ways of knowing that James is angry. So the Perceptual Hypothesis alone does not adequately answer the question of how you know that fact. To ascertain how you know it, we need to decide whether or not you saw his anger. This is an epistemological argument. But it has consequences for a theory of perception. It implies that there is a determinate fact about which features of an object you see. This fact is made true independently of what you come to know by seeing. In the final section of the paper, I seek to undermine various ways in which the claim that you see James' anger may be thought implausible. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that one of the functions of the perceptual system is to detect other people’s emotions when they are expressed in the face. I support this view by developing two separate but interdependent accounts. The first says that facial expressions of emotions carry information about the emotions that produced them, and about some of their properties. The second says that the visual system functions to extract the information that expressions carry about emotions.
Quassim Cassam has recently defended a perceptual model of knowledge of other minds: one on which we can see and thereby know that another thinks and feels. In the course of defending this model, he addresses issues about our ability to think about other minds. I argue that his solution to this 'conceptual problem' does not work. A solution to the conceptual problem is necessary if we wish to explain knowledge of other minds.
I draw upon the conceptual resources of the extended mind thesis to analyze empathy and interpersonal understanding. Against the dominant mentalistic paradigm, I argue that empathy is fundamentally an extended bodily activity and that much of our social understanding happens outside of the head. First, I look at how the two dominant models of interpersonal understanding, theory theory and simulation theory, portray the cognitive link between folk psychology and empathy. Next, I challenge their internalist orthodoxy and offer an alternative "extended" (...) characterization of empathy. In support of this characterization, I analyze some narratives of individuals with Moebius syndrome, a kind of expressive deficit resulting from bilateral facial paralysis. I conclude by discussing how a Zen Buddhist ethics of responsiveness is helpful for articulating the practical significance of an extended, body-based account of empathy. (shrink)