First communions: Mimetic sharing without theory of mind



Publication Details

Hutto, D. (2008). First communions: Mimetic sharing without theory of mind. In J. Zlatev, T. P. Racine, C. Sinha and E. Itkonen (Eds.), The Shared Mind: Perspectives on Intersubjectivity (pp. 245-276). Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9789027239006


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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