By M. Ratcliffe
This publication deals arguments opposed to the view that interpersonal knowing consists of a 'folk' or 'commonsense' psychology, a view which Ratcliffe indicates is a theoretically influenced abstraction. His substitute account attracts on phenomenology, neuroscience and developmental psychology, exploring patterned interactions in shared social events.
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Additional resources for Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation
However, I begin in Chapter 2 by arguing that FP is not quite so commonsensical as it is made out to be. In so doing, I will not simply ask whether FP is commonsense but will instead enquire as to what is actually meant by the term ‘commonsense’. It turns out that everyday ‘folk’, who have not been taught all about belief-desire psychology and told that it is commonsense, do not find FP at all obvious. Thus ‘commonsense psychology’ cannot mean a description of interpersonal understanding that is apparent to all.
Its articulation may require an explicit philosophical method and a lengthy process of investigation. In addition, it is quite possible that descriptions of commonsense, construed as something that underlies everyday experience and thought, will be obfuscated by the surreptitious imposition of inappropriate concepts from science and elsewhere. Indeed, I will argue later in this book that descriptions of interpersonal understanding tend to be structured by the misleading assumption that it is a variant of mechanistic understanding, the latter being pervasive in certain areas of science and philosophy but very different from our everyday ways of understanding and interacting with people.
Phenomenologists, in contrast, have offered a diversity of intricate descriptions. These can help bring to light aspects of interpersonal understanding that might otherwise be ignored, thus opening up the possibility of alternatives to FP. I also discuss some scientific work, including recent findings in neuroscience that relate to the perception of agency. My aim in so doing is not primarily to speculate about which mechanisms underlie interpersonal understanding but to show that certain phenomenological claims that conflict with FP are not at odds with scientific results or somehow mysterious.