First communions: Mimetic sharing without theory of mind
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It is widely held that the gradual development of metarepresentational Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities constituted at least one important hominid upgrade. Are such abilities really needed to explain hominid (i) tool-making, (ii) social cohesion, or even (iii) basic interpretative apd language formation/learning capabilities? I propose an alternative explanation of what underlies these sophisticated capacities - the Mimetic Ability Hypothesis (MAH). MAH claims that a vastly increased capacity for recreative imagination best explains the kinds of sophisticated intersubjective engagements of which hominids would have been capable - and that these constituted an important basis for the development of complex language. This proposal puts the idea of the evolution of ToM devices under considerable strain.
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