Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beyond the debate

On the theory of mind debate, Gallagher and Zahavi point out that both sides share a common view on the mind. Read carefully the quotation, it's important.

[D]espite their differences, TT [theory theory] and ST [simulation theory] both deny that it is possible to directly experience other minded creatures; this is supposedly why we need to rely on and employ either theoretical inferences or internal simulations. Both accounts consequently share the view that the minds of others are hidden, and they consider one of the main challenges facing a theory of social cognition to be the question of how and why we start ascribing such hidden mental entities or processes to certain publicly observable bodies.
[Gallagher, S. and Zahavi, D (2008). The Phenomenological Mind. London: Routledge, p.183]

As I wrote here before, the theory theory takes the objective, third person's view. The simulation theory, in contrast, takes the subjective, first person's view. But despite such differences, they share the mentalistic suppositon; The other person's mind is somthing hidden behind his/her observable body and accecible only for himself/herself.

From the phenomenological view, this mentalism itself shuoul be renounced. Merleau-Ponty once criticized the classical psychology as following;

[A]ll psychologists of the classical period are in tacit agreement on this point: the psyche, or the psychic, is what is given to only one person. It seems, in effect, that one might admit without further examination or discussion that what constitutes the psyche in me or in others is something incommunicable. I alone ame able to grasp my psyche---for example, my sensations of green or of red. You will never know them as I know them; you will never experience them in my place. A consequence of this idea is that the psyche of another appears to me as radically inaccessible, at least in its own existence. I cannot reach other lives, other thought processes, since by hypothesis they are open only to inspection by a single individual: the one who owns them.
[Merleau-Ponty (1951/1964). The child's relations with others. (in The Primacy of Perception) Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, p.114]

[t]he problem comes close to being solved only on condition that certain classical prejudices are renounced. We must abandon the fundamental prejudice according to which the psyche is that which is accessible only to myself and cannot be seen from outside.
[ibid., p.116]

So, according to Merleau-Ponty, there is no solution fot the theory of mind debate, as far as we take the mentalistic supposition for granted. We need to renouce it and think over.