Our Own Minds
Sociocultural Grounds for Self-Consciousness
An argument that in response to sociocultural pressures, human minds develope self-consciousness by activating a complex machinery of self-regulation.
In Our Own Minds, Radu Bogdan takes a developmental perspective on consciousness—its functional design in particular—and proposes that children's functional capacity for consciousness is assembled during development out of a variety of ontogenetic adaptations that respond mostly to sociocultural challenges specific to distinct stages of childhood. Young human minds develop self-consciousness—in the broad sense of being conscious of the self's mental and behavioral relatedness to the world—because they face extraordinary and escalating sociocultural pressures that cannot be handled without setting in motion a complex executive machinery of self-regulation under the guidance of an increasingly sophisticated intuitive psychology. Bogdan suggests that self-consciousness develops gradually during childhood. Children move from being oriented toward the outside world in early childhood to becoming (at about age four) oriented also toward their own minds. Bogdan argues that the sociocultural tasks and practices that children must assimilate and engage in competently demand the development of an intuitive psychology (also known as theory of mind or mind reading); the intuitive psychology assembles a suite of executive abilities (intending, controlling, monitoring, and so on) that install self-consciousness and drive its development. Understanding minds, first the minds of others and then our own, drives the development of self-consciousness, world-bound or extrovert at the beginning and later mind-bound or introvert. This asymmetric development of the intuitive psychology drives a commensurate asymmetric development of self-consciousness.
Hardcover$7.75 S | £6.99 ISBN: 9780262026376 224 pp. | 6 in x 9 in
Fascinating...a wonderful read...Bogdan is that rare writer who is truly at home both with developmental psychology as well as with philosophy of mind, and who has the capacity to bring together empirical and philosophical findings to throw new light on the central and difficult questions concerning the nature and development of the human mind.
The Philosophical Quarterly
...[A]n account that firmly grounds the existence and shaping of human self-consciousness in a sociocultural and developmental context and is a welcome addition to the growing literature about the nature of consciousness.... I would recommend this volume to psychologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, and indeed anyone fascinated by studies of human self-consciousness, as it represents a valuable contribution to the thinking about a tantalizing object of study.
David B. Edelman
American Journal of Human Biology
Among a growing number of articles and books on the sociocultural approach, this is perhaps the clearest and most tightly argued to date.
On this ground I believe that his work should be widely read by all serious developmental psychologists, as well as other cognitive scientists. For those with interests in social cognitive development Bogdan's book is a must read. It is exceptionally clear in its argument, as well as in its text; it is also brief, always a virtue.
Radu Bogdan's thought-provoking new book explores how sociocultural factors frame and drive the emergence of self-understanding in normal human development. This is a neglected area in philosophical discussions of consciousness and mindreading. Bogdan's bold claims should provoke lively discussion among philosophers and cognitive scientists.
José Luis Bermúdez
Texas A&M University, and author of The Paradox of Self-Consciousness and Thinking without Words
This is a rich, insightful, and ambitious book that brings developmental findings to bear on traditional philosophical issues concerning intentionality, consciousness, and self-consciousness. I am especially sympathetic to its thesis that the mind of the young child is oriented toward the outside social and physical world, and that understanding other minds precedes understanding our own.
Robert M. Gordon
Research Professor in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis