The minds of others



Publication Details

Gallagher, S. (2016). The minds of others. In D. O. Dahlstrom, A. Elpidorou & W. Hopp (Eds.), Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology: Conceptual and Empirical Approaches (pp. 117-138). New York, United States: Routledge.


Here are two things that we get from a phenomenological approach to questions about intersubjectivity and social cognition. First, minds, our own and those of others, are not purely mental in the traditional sense that would consider the mental as imperceptible or hidden away behind bodily behavior. Minds are embodied, and that means that at least some aspects of mental phenomena have a bodily being. This has important implications for how we think of social cognition and of experiences such as empathy and emotion. Second, just as my body is different from your body, and the access that I have to my body, both experientially and agentively, is different from the access that I have to your body, so also (and I'll argue, just because of that bodily difference) there is a difference in the access that I have to my mind and the access I have to your mind. This second idea also has important implications for understanding others and for the notion of empathy. Neither of these ideas is foreign to contemporary debates in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But to some philosophers these two ideas appear to be in a negative tension and can lead to a number of different theoretical perspectives on questions of intersubjectivity.

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