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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-05-10
  • Publisher: Bradford Books
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In this novel account of distinctively human social cognition, Tadeusz Zawidzkiargues that the key distinction between human and nonhuman social cognition consists in our complex,diverse, and flexible capacities to shape each other's minds in ways that make them easier tointerpret. Zawidzki proposes that such "mindshaping" -- which takes the form of capacitiesand practices such as sophisticated imitation, pedagogy, conformity to norms, and narrativeself-constitution -- is the most important component of human social cognition. Without it, heargues, none of the other components of what he terms the "human sociocognitive syndrome,"including sophisticated language, cooperation, and sophisticated "mindreading," would bepossible. Challenging the dominant view that sophisticated mindreading --especially propositional attitude attribution -- is the key evolutionary innovation behinddistinctively human social cognition, Zawidzki contends that the capacity to attribute such mentalstates depends on the evolution of mindshaping practices. Propositional attitude attribution, heargues, is likely to be unreliable unless most of us are shaped to have similar kinds ofpropositional attitudes in similar circumstances. Motivations to mindshape, selected to makesophisticated cooperation possible, combine with low-level mindreading abilities that we share withnonhuman species to make it easier for humans to interpret and anticipate each other's behavior.Eventually, this led, in human prehistory, to the capacity to attribute full-blown propositionalattitudes accurately -- a capacity that is parasitic, in phylogeny and today, on prior capacities toshape minds. Bringing together findings from developmental psychology, comparative psychology,evolutionary psychology, and philosophy of psychology, Zawidzki offers a strikingly originalframework for understanding human social cognition.

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