The world is not enough: shared emotions and other minds

D. Hutto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is the aim of this chapter to argue that the conceptual problem of other minds cannot be properly addressed as long as we subscribe to an individualistic model of how we stand in relation to our own experiences and the behaviour of others. For it is commitment to this picture that sponsors the strong first/third person divide that lies at the heart of the two false accounts of experiential concept learning sketched above. This is the true source of the problem. To deal successfully with it we must reconsider our assumptions about the way in which we learn our concepts of experience, self and other, and the order in which we do so. Specifically, we must recognize the intersubjective character of the learning process and we must abandon the idea that we gain a secure grasp of the self/other dichotomy prior to learning our concepts of experience. Focusing on these issues allows us to understand the asymmetrical nature of such concepts. In order to bring these points into sharp relief, the next section is devoted to reviewing the major features of Brewer’s approach to the very same problem in his contribution to this volume, ‘Emotion and Other Minds’. Although his proposal makes some moves in the right direction, I argue that he does not go far enough. In particular, in focusing exclusively on demonstrative reference, he fails to challenge crucial aspects of the individualistic model that are responsible for generating the problem. Still, using his work as a springboard, it becomes clear exactly which fundamental assumptions need to be revised if we are to understand the context in which we learn our psychological concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Emotions
EditorsP. Goldie
PublisherAshgate Publishing
ISBN (Print)978-0754603658
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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