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Dissertation
Does the self matter? The evolution, psychology and neuroscience of mindreading from a philosophy of mind perspective
Authors: ---
Year: 2007

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Abstract

Hume (1711-76) wrote in his Treatise of Human Nature that “the minds of men are mirrors to one another” (1739/1740; 2000, p. 236). According to Hume, this mirroring of minds is achieved through sympathy, which reflects a process or a means of communication (of acquiring and experiencing others' passions and sentiments). Darwin (1872) similarly argued that the recognition of certain emotions in others, through sympathy, induces a similar emotion in oneself. Recently, the philosopher R. Gordon (1995) argued that this mirroring of minds may be more pervasive than Hume had thought. The following questions are essential to my research: Is mirroring the key to human mindreading? What role does the self play? Or more specifically, is introspection-based mindreading (IBM) the default strategy in all normal individuals (Goldman (2006)? There is little evidence in favour of introspective skills in non-human great apes (e.g. Barth et al., 2004). Humans on the other hand possess an extended self-concept and the ability to introspectively access their inner world (e.g. Povinelli et al., 1996). Hence, IBM is a plausible mechanism in humans, but arguably not so in non-human great apes. However, based upon my experimental research, IBM does not appear to be the default strategy in all normal individuals. For example, it is likely that empathy is an introspection-based social strategy in individuals, men and women, with a typically female cognitive style (in terms of systemizing skills), but not, or much less so, in individuals with a typically male cognitive style. My fMRI study assesses the role of simulation-type processing during an explicit face-based mindreading task, comparing normal biological men with an extreme male-typical (or Asperger-type) versus female-typical (or Empathic-type) cognitive style (in terms of empathizing and systemizing). My groups exhibit differences in frontal areas, mirror-neuron type areas and temporal regions related to face/eye-gaze processing. Based upon my findings, I hypothesize that distinct pathways for face-based mindreading exist in normal individuals. Similar to my Empathic-type (or typically female) group, some individuals may be more ‘simulation-prone' when it comes to face-based mindreading, whereas others, similar to my Asperger-type (or typically male) group, may be more ‘theorizing-prone'.


Dissertation
De moraliteit van genociden : Een onderzoek naar het grassroots niveau van de Rwandese genocide
Authors: ---
Year: 2003

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