We come from many different places, but we all share interests in art, politics, philosophy, and science (hence the title of the blog). We’d like to provide a forum for people to keep up-to-date on what’s happening in these spheres and to discuss issues that arise therein. While it’s true that we’re particularly concerned with what’s happening to higher education today, we have many interests and will post on many different topics. We’ve tried for diversity in geography and philosophical orientation in assembling our group and hope there will be something for everyone here.
Use of the adjective “folk” to describe one’s opponents is a shining example of the concept. Essentially, anything that Metzinger, Ladyman, Ross et al. don’t like is dismissed as the “folk” view on the topic.
Matthew Ratcliffe, Rethinking Commonsense Psychology (Palgrave, 2006) shows that even the folk don't do "folk psychology"! It's a philosophical myth foisted on them. (IOW, we never really infer mental states (beliefs and desires) of others based on evidence presented to our senses of their outward behavior).
The New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science series welcomes its second volume, Matthew Ratcliffe’s Rethinking Commonsense Psychology. Ratcliffe tackles the problem of other minds, and our supposed ability via folk psychology to understand their workings on the basis of our own cognitive processes, that is, our supposed ability to infer the contents of other minds on the basis of an interpretation of external behaviour. Now philosophers have long been devoted to rethinking the folk or commonsense notions of the people, but Ratcliffe provides us with a twist: what if folk psychology itself doesn’t belong to the people at all in their everyday practice, but is instead an invention of philosophers, a manner of speaking we learn at school and work with professionally? What would happen if, following the lead of the phenomenologists, we examine more closely and carefully what really happens when people understand each other, and thereby substitute the category of person for that of mind? Furthermore, what would happen if we examine the social context on which interpersonal understanding depends, instead of presupposing a bare encounter of isolated minds?
These are the challenges Ratcliffe undertakes with verve and intelligence. Once relieved of a false philosopher’s picture of isolated minds interpreting each other’s behaviour, we can see what really happens in interpersonal understanding in social context, and develop a vocabulary adequate to that reality, one that resonates both with classic work in phenomenology and with recent work in situated or embodied / embedded cognition. For its critical re-assessment and its positive contributions, then, Rethinking Commonsense Psychology is a welcome addition to the series.