The predicative mind singles out and represents an item in order to attribute to it a property, a relation, an action, an evaluation; it thinks, and says, of a house that it is big, of a car that it is to the left of the house, of a cat that it is about to jump, of a hypothesis that it is plausible. The capacity to predicate appears to be neither innate nor learned, yet it is universal among humans. Puzzling in evolutionary, developmental, and philosophical terms, the mental competence for predication still awaits a coherent and plausible explanation. In this exploration of the predicative roots of human thinking, Radu Bogdan takes up the challenge.
Bogdan argues that predication is not only an outcome of development but also a by-product of uniquely human features of development, many of them social in nature and unrelated to representation, cognition, and thinking. Humans develop predicative minds for disparate reasons, which bear initially on physiological coregulation, affective and manipulative communication, and the socially shared acquisition of words. Once developed, the competence for predication in turn redesigns human thinking and communication. Predication is at the heart of conscious, deliberate, explicit, and language-based human thinking, and it is the fuel of higher mental activities. Understanding the uniqueness and representational power of the human mind, Bogdan contends, requires an explanation of why and how predication came to be.
About the Author
Radu J. Bogdan is Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science and Director of the Cognitive Studies Program at Tulane University and Regular Guest Professor and Director of the OPEN MIND master program in cognitive science, University of Bucharest, Romania. He is the author of Interpreting Minds (1997), Minding Minds: Evolving a Reflexive Mind by Interpreting Others (2000), Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking (2009) and Our Own Minds: Sociocultural Grounds for Self-Consciousness (2010), all published by the MIT Press.
"An important book...a patient account of all the perceptual, memory, and intersubjective competencies that are assembled into this final important product, namely predication...sometimes difficult, but not without charm.", David R. Olson, Cognitive Development
"Bogdan's book paves the way for scholars of human development—including not only those interested in cognitive development, but also social, moral, and linguistic development—to examine more broadly how best to view knowledge and practice and the relationship between the two.", Nancy Budwig, Human Development
“[T]he book's developmental proposal is welcome and, I believe, a step in the right direction....[T]he book's central thesis and framework is interesting and deserves more careful investigation and interrogation.” — Daniel D. Hutto, Mind
"Bogdan presents a highly original synthesis that draws on recent work in the philosophy of language, developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, and the philosophy of mind. His argument that parent-child interaction is a key factor in the formation of a capacity for predication is particularly illuminating. This deserves to be an influential book."
Robert M. Gordon, Research Professor in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis
"Predication, or our ability to attribute properties to objects, is something that we take for granted. It's essential to our mental abilities, and it's implicitly assumed even in most philosophical investigations. Bogdan shifts the ground, especially in considerations of theory of mind, by raising the hard question about how predication is possible. His novel theory, drawn from developmental studies of intersubjective communication, forces us to reflect on the very basis of what we do as cognitive subjects. What Bogdan gives us is the place to start if our goal is to explain the mind."
Shaun Gallagher, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences, University of Central Florida