Publication Details

Gallagher, S. 2008, 'Direct perception in the intersubjective context', Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 535-543.


This paper, in opposition to the standard theories of social cognition found in psychology and cognitive science, defends the idea that direct perception plays an important role in social cognition. The two dominant theories, theory theory (TT) and simulation theory (ST), both posit something more than a perceptual element as necessary for our ability to understand others, i.e., to “mindread” or “mentalize.” In contrast, certain phenomenological approaches depend heavily on the concept of perception and the idea that we have a direct perceptual grasp of the other person’s intentions, feelings, etc. This paper explains precisely what the notion of direct perception means, offers evidence from developmental studies, and proposes a non-simulationist interpretation of the neuroscience of mirror systems.



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