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Hardcover | $6.75 Short | £5.95 | 176 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 3 figures | January 2009 | ISBN: 9780262026369
eBook | $17.95 Short | January 2009 | ISBN: 9780262257589
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Predicative Minds

The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking


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 Our Own Minds: Sociocultural Grounds for Self-Consciousness (MIT Press, 2010) and other books.


“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 Gordan, Research Professor in Philosophy of Mind & Cognitive Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis
“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, Author of Cognitive Development: The Child's Acquisition of Diagonality
“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, Author of A Developmental-Functionalist Approach to Child Language
“The book's developmental proposal is welcome and, I believe, a step in the right direction...The book's central thesis and framework is interesting and deserves more careful investigation and interrogation.”
Daniel D. Hutto, Professor of philosophical psychology at the University of Wollongong