Developmental phenomenology: examples from social cognition

Continental Philosophy Review 54 (2):183-199 (2020)
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We explore relationships between phenomenology and developmental psychology through an in-depth analysis of a particular problem in social cognition: the most fundamental access to other minds. In the first part of the paper, we examine how developmental science can benefit phenomenology. We explicate the connection between cognitive psychology and developmental phenomenology as a form of constructive phenomenological psychology. Nativism in contemporary science constitutes a strong impulse to conceive of the possibility of an innate ability to perceive others’ mental states, an idea which also has a transcendental implication. In the second part, we consider how phenomenology can contribute to developmental science. Phenomenology can go beyond the necessary evaluation and reinterpretation of experimental results. Some phenomenological notions and theories can be put forward on a par with alternative cognitive-psychological models and compete with them on grounds of empirical adequacy. For example, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty’s notion of pairing can constitute a viable account of how infants access other minds. We outline a number of ways in which this account can be tested and can thus contribute to generating empirical knowledge.



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Shaun Gallagher
University of Memphis

Citations of this work

Pairing and sharing: The birth of the sense of us.Stefano Vincini - 2021 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-24.

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References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945/1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
The Phenomenological Mind.Shaun Gallagher & Dan Zahavi - 2008 - New York, NY: Routledge. Edited by Dan Zahavi.
The structure of behavior.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1963 - Boston,: Beacon Press.

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