Looking beyond the brain: Social neuroscience meets narrative practice

Cognitive Systems Research 35:5-17 (2015)
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Abstract

Folk psychological practices are arguably the basis for our articulate ability to understand why people act as they do. This paper considers how social neuroscience could contribute to an explanation of the neural basis of folk psychology by understanding its relevant neural firing and wiring as a product of enculturation. Such a view is motivated by the hypothesis that folk psychological competence is established through engagement with narrative practices that form a familiar part of the human niche. Our major aim is to establish that conceiving of social neuroscience in this wider context is a tenable and promising alternative to characterizing its job as understanding mentalizing as a wholly brain-based form of ‘theory of mind’ activity. To promote this change of view, it is shown that understanding folk psychology as a narrative practice can accommodate the known evidence from social neuroscience, developmental and cross-cultural psychology, and cognitive archaeology at least as adequately, if not better than its main rivals, modularist accounts of theory of mind.

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Author Profiles

Daniel D. Hutto
University of Wollongong
Michael David Kirchhoff
University of Wollongong

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