Narrative competence and the massive hermeneutical background
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Children come into formal educational settings already possessing a massive amount of background knowledge and know-how about how the physical world works and about how other people behave. Most of this knowledge is implicit. For purposes of successful educational practice, it is important to have a good understanding of what this background knowledge is and how it informs more explicit cognitive processes. I focus in this chapter on the kind of background knowledge or know-how that enters into intersubjective processes involved in understanding other people. 1 In the eld of hermeneutics the topic under discussion in this chapter is referred to as intersubjective understanding or simply the understanding of others. In different contexts and disciplines such as philosophy of mind, psychology, and the cognitive sciences, this general area of research is referred to as social cognition or theory of mind. I shall begin with a brief review of theories that t under the heading “theory of mind,” and I shall focus on a speci c problem that they share, which I call the “starting problem.” The solution to this problem, I suggest, requires an alternative way of looking at issues concerning intersubjective understanding and background knowledge.
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