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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262024198 | 318 pp. | 6 x 9 in | April 1997
Paperback | $29.95 Short | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262524179 | 318 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 2003

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Interpreting Minds


Unlike most current researchers in philosophy and psychology, who view interpretation as a way to understand the minds and behavior of others, Radu J. Bogdan sets out to establish a new evolutionary and practical view of interpretation. According to Bogdan, the ability to interpret others' mental states has evolved under communal, political, and epistemic pressures to enable us to cope with the impact of other organisms on our own goals in the competition to survive. Interpretation evolved among primates by natural and then cultural selection. As an adaptation, it is a competence in the form of a battery of practical skills that serve the interpreter's interests in social interactions. Evolutionary theory does not just deepen our understanding of interpretation; without it, we cannot understand what interpretation is and how it does its job. Interpreting Minds raises many thought-provoking issues for philosophers of mind and culture; evolutionary, developmental, and social psychologists; ethologists; cognitive and cultural anthropologists; evolutionary biologists; and others interested in cognitive development.

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.


“A provocative contribution... an important new practical perspective to interpretation.” — Colin G. Beer, Contemporary Psychology
“A distinctive analysis of the most fundamental questions about how we interpret the actions of others Bogdan’s analysis should provoke thoughtful consideration and discussion across philosophy, cognitive science, and ethology, in which the nature of mind-reading is treated with a much-needed new depth and breadth.” — Andrew Whiten, Nature
“A profoundly original and controversial piece of work in cognitive science—a title not to be missed by the numerous interdisciplinary students of this mental capacity of such uncertain name.” — Juan-Carlos G