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Abstract: Most scientists and theorists concerned with the problem of consciousness focus on our consciousness of the physical world (our sensations, feelings, and awareness). In this paper I consider our consciousness of the mental world (our thoughts about thoughts, intentions, wishes, and emotions).The argument is made that these are two distinct forms of consciousness, the evidence for this deriving from studies of autism. Autism is a severe childhood psychiatric condition in which individuals may be conscious of the physical world but not of the mental world. Relevant experimental evidence is described, including some recent neuroimaging studies pointing towards the neural basis of our consciousness of the mental
Abstract: Recent studies in developmental psychology have found evidence to suggest that there exists an innate system that accounts for the possibilities of early infant imitation and the existence of phantom limbs in cases of congenital absence of limbs. These results challenge traditional assumptions about the status and development of the body schema and body image, and about the nature of the translation process between perceptual experience and motor ability
Abstract: We propose a mentalistic and nativist view of human early mental and social life and of the ontogeny of mindreading. We define the mental state of sharedness as the primitive, one-sided capability to take one's own mental states as mutually known to an i nteractant. We argue that this capability is an innate feature of the human mind, which the child uses to make a subjective sense of the world and of her actions. We argue that the child takes all of her mental states as shared with her caregivers. This a llows her to interact with her caregivers in a mentalistic way from the very beginning and provides the grounds on which the later maturation of mindreading will build. As the latter process occurs, the child begins to understand the mental world in terms of differences between the mental states of different agents; subjectively, this also corresponds to the birth of privateness. ?
Abstract: This was originally written and presented at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers on Folk Psychology vs. Mental Simulation: How Minds Understand Minds, run by Robert Gordon at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, June-July 1999. It has been only lightly revised since, and should be considered a rough draft. Needless to say, the ideas herein owe a lot to what I learned at the seminar from Robert Gordon and the other participants, particularly Jim Garson. However, any errors are my responsibility alone