Evolved to Conform: Tadeusz Zawidzki on Mindshaping

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Evolved to Conform: Tadeusz Zawidzki on Mindshaping

“Social cognition involves a small bundle of cognitive capacities and behaviors that enable us to communicate and get along with one another, a bundle that even our closest primate cousins don’t have, at least not to the same level of sophistication: pervasive collaboration, language, mind-reading and what Tadeusz Zawidzki, Associate Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University, calls “mindshaping”. Mindshaping includes our capacities and dispositions to imitate, to be natural learners, and to conform to and enforce social norms, and in Mindshaping: A New Framework for Understanding Human Social Cognition (MIT Press, 2013), Zawidzki defends the idea that mind-shaping is the basic capacity from which the rest of social cognition evolves. Most researchers hold that mind-reading – our “theory of mind” – is the linch-pin of the rest: our ability to ascribe to one another mental states with propositional content is…

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