Intentionality and intersubjectivity
This is a dissertation about the problem of other minds. Its point of departure is the modern philosophical and cognitive-scientific discussion of our attribution of mental states to others, in particular as it is conceived of within the so-called theory theory. The theory theory, and the broader framework of which it is a part, are presented in part 1. In the second part of the dissertation, it is argued that the conception of intentionality normally used in the modern discussions of intersubjectivity cannot adequately explain all facets of human actions. This is because some aspects of actions can only be explained by recourse to intentional states which are not necessarily cognitively accessible. Based upon the Merleau-Pontyian notion of body schema, I develop an alternative account of intentionality, viz. primordial intentionality. The third part of the dissertation argues that the theory theory, and indeed all theories of intersubjectivity that conceive of our ascription of mental states to others as being essentially cognitive, fail to appreciate the nature of the intentionality involved in our habitual capacity for mentalising. The kind of intentionality which is primarily involved in intersubjectivity is not cognitive intentionality, but primordial intentionality. In a Merleau-Pontyian spirit, this mentalising is explicated as a body-schematic transfer. I argue that my Merleau- Pontyian theory can explain how we can habitually attribute mental states to others, and that it furthermore presents a novel solution to the problem of how it is at all possible for us to conceive of the mental states of others.
Department of Philosophy
Date of defence
Göteborg : Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis