Evolving a Reflexive Mind by Interpreting Others
By Radu J. Bogdan
(MIT Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780262024679, 223pp.)
Publication Date: January 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Mental reflexivity, or metamentation -- a mind thinking about its ownthoughts -- underpins reflexive consciousness, deliberation, self-evaluation, moraljudgment, the ability to think ahead, and much more. Yet relatively little inphilosophy or psychology has been written about what metamentation actually is, orabout why and how it came about. In this book, Radu Bogdan proposes that humansthink reflexively because they interpret each other's minds in social contexts ofcooperation, communication, education, politics, and so forth. As naive psychology, interpretation was naturally selected among primates as a battery of practicalskills that preceded language and advanced thinking. Metamentation began asinterpretation mentally rehearsed: through mental sharing of attitudes andinformation about items of common interest, interpretation conspired with mentalrehearsal to develop metamentation.Drawing on philosophical, psychological, andevolutionary perspectives, Bogdan analyzes the main phylogenetic and ontogeneticstages through which primates' abilities to interpret other minds evolve andgradually create the opportunities and resources for metamentation. Contrary toprevailing views, he concludes that metamentation benefits from, but is not apredetermined outcome of, logical abilities, language, and consciousness.