Consciousness Thought

Cosmic philosophy by George Adamski

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By George Adamski

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Thus I assume the following taxonomy of varieties of mindreading. ” The most sophisticated examples of such lowlevel mindreading plausibly involve adopting something like Dennett’s intentional stance. As Dennett (1991c) himself makes clear, this is better characterized as an unreflective, tacitly encoded “craft” than an explicit theory. Low-level mindreading can, of course, involve even less sophisticated representations of behavioral patterns. For example, nonhuman animals and human infants use straightforward induction to anticipate future behavior and are sensitive to various nonrational behavioral regularities, such as correlations between facial expressions of emotion and subsequent behavior (Parr, 2001; Andrews, 2007, 2008).

For this reason, most philosophers find Dennett’s proposals hard to accept: it is difficult to give up the intuition that some determinate mental fact of the matter lies behind the behavioral appearances. This characterization of low-level mindreading is even more deflationary than Apperly’s (2011): not only are apparently sophisticated sociocognitive feats possible without an appreciation of different modes of presentation and the holistic connection between propositional attitudes and behavior, but there is no need to think of behavior as caused by concrete, unobservable mental states that can misrepresent the world.

At the same time, sharing such thought had potentially dramatic, positive effects on fitness. So human language evolved as an adaptation for sharing thought, inheriting its structural complexity and semantic flexibility from the thought it evolved to express. This intuitively compelling picture fits well with the received “mindreading as sociocognitive linchpin” theory. Language is seen as a tool selected primarily for enhanced mindreading: for helping individuals learn each other’s thoughts, where these are understood as constituted independently of the linguistic means used to express them.

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