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Understanding Other MindsPerspectives from developmental social neuroscience$
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Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael Lombardo, and Helen Tager-Flusberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.001.0001

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Culture and the evolution of interconnected minds

Culture and the evolution of interconnected minds

(p.430) (p.431) Chapter 24 Culture and the evolution of interconnected minds
Understanding Other Minds

Andrew Whiten

Oxford University Press

Culture and the evolution of interconnected minds represent phenomena that set questions about our understanding of other minds in their broad biological context. Understanding other minds forms but one pillar of a larger ‘socio-cognitive’ niche that has been at the heart of our species’ distinctive evolutionary ascent. Other mutually supportive pillars include cumulative culture, language, egalitarianism and ultra-cooperation, an adaptive complex that supported the novel hunter-gatherer lifestyles that shaped us. This chapter outlines the embedding of mind-reading in this complex and examines our current understanding of its evolutionary roots through comparative studies of our closest primate relatives. Recent studies have shown that primate minds are already interconnected in elementary but profound ways, both through basic forms of psychology such as recognizing what others can or cannot see, and processes of cultural transmission that include imitation. These studies offer important inferences about the evolutionary foundations of our own distinctive mentalism.

Keywords:   mindreading, theory of mind, mentalism, socio-cognitive niche, deep social mind, evolution, culture, cultural transmission, imitation, teaching

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