Other Minds: How Humans Bridge the Divide between Self and Others

Other Minds: How Humans Bridge the Divide between Self and Others

Other Minds: How Humans Bridge the Divide between Self and Others

Other Minds: How Humans Bridge the Divide between Self and Others

Synopsis

One of the great challenges of social cognitive science is to understand how we can enter, or "read," the minds of others - that is, infer complex mental states such as beliefs, desires, intentions, and emotions. This book brings together leading scholars from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy to present cutting-edge theories and empirical findings on this essential topic. Written in an engaging, accessible style, the volume examines the cognitive processes underlying mindreading; how interpersonal understanding and empathy develop across the lifespan; connections to language, communication, and relationships; and what happens when mindreading fails, in both normal and clinical populations.

Excerpt

This book not only is about “other minds”; it is a collaborative effort that drew together many other minds besides our own. The book grew out of a conference held in September 2003 at the University of Oregon, for which we sought to bring together scholars from such diverse disciplines as psychology, linguistics, decision science, philosophy, primatology, and neuroscience. The conference contributions highlighted the diversity of conceptual and methodological approaches to the multiply labeled topic of other minds, mindreading, or theory of mind, and we hope that the current volume is a good representation of this diversity.

Mindful of the difficulties readers might encounter with a project involving a variety of minds talking about other minds, we strove to keep the contributions to this book accessible, encouraging authors to think about their chapters as essays, not journal articles. Chapter authors also helped in this endeavor, as many of them anonymously commented on another author’s chapter, adding greatly to our own editorial efforts.

Projects like this require not only other minds but also other sources of support. We are grateful to the University of Oregon’s Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences and the Department of Psychology. In addition, we would like to thank some particular minds (and bodies) for helping to make the initial conference and the later volume successful: Vonda Evans, Marjorie Taylor, Lara London, Lael Rogan, Mike Myers, Christina Gamache, Nicole Selinger, Obsidians, Inc., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Seymour Weingarten of The Guilford Press, and the students in the 2004 Other Minds course at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College.

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