What distinguishes humankind from other species? A leading candidate is our facility at mutual understanding (“theory of mind”), our ability to ascribe thoughts, desires, and feelings to one another. How do we do this? Folk-wisdom says, “By empathy — we put ourselves in other people’s shoes”. In the last few decades this idea has moved from folk-wisdom to philosophical conjecture to serious scientific theory. This volume collects essays by Alvin Goldman, many of which have played a major role in crystallizing this “simulation,” or “empathizing,” account of mindreading and showing how it is confirmed by recent findings in psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
Regions of your brain resonate with the brains of others when you observe them manifest their feelings in facial affect or see them about to undergo a painful stimulus or a mere touch on the arm. Essays in the volume explore an array of topics in the philosophy of cognitive science, ranging from embodied cognition to the metaphysics of actions and events.
Alvin I. Goldman