Tadeusz Wiesław Zawidzki

Tadeusz Wieslaw Zawidzki is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Codirector of the Mind-Brain Evolution Cluster at the George Washington University. He is the author of Dennett.

  • Mindshaping

    Mindshaping

    A New Framework for Understanding Human Social Cognition

    Tadeusz Wiesław Zawidzki

    A proposal that human social cognition would not have evolved without mechanisms and practices that shape minds in ways that make them easier to interpret.

    In this novel account of distinctively human social cognition, Tadeusz Zawidzki argues that the key distinction between human and nonhuman social cognition consists in our complex, diverse, and flexible capacities to shape each other's minds in ways that make them easier to interpret. Zawidzki proposes that such "mindshaping"—which takes the form of capacities and practices such as sophisticated imitation, pedagogy, conformity to norms, and narrative self-constitution—is the most important component of human social cognition. Without it, he argues, none of the other components of what he terms the "human sociocognitive syndrome," including sophisticated language, cooperation, and sophisticated "mindreading," would be possible.

    Challenging the dominant view that sophisticated mindreading—especially propositional attitude attribution—is the key evolutionary innovation behind distinctively human social cognition, Zawidzki contends that the capacity to attribute such mental states depends on the evolution of mindshaping practices. Propositional attitude attribution, he argues, is likely to be unreliable unless most of us are shaped to have similar kinds of propositional attitudes in similar circumstances. Motivations to mindshape, selected to make sophisticated cooperation possible, combine with low-level mindreading abilities that we share with nonhuman species to make it easier for humans to interpret and anticipate each other's behavior. Eventually, this led, in human prehistory, to the capacity to attribute full-blown propositional attitudes accurately—a capacity that is parasitic, in phylogeny and today, on prior capacities to shape minds.

    Bringing together findings from developmental psychology, comparative psychology, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy of psychology, Zawidzki offers a strikingly original framework for understanding human social cognition.

    • Hardcover $47.00 £37.00

Contributor

  • Distributed Cognition and the Will

    Distributed Cognition and the Will

    Individual Volition and Social Context

    Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid, and G. Lynn Stephens

    Philosophers and behavioral scientists discuss what, if anything, of the traditional concept of individual conscious will can survive recent scientific discoveries that human decision-making is distributed across different brain processes and through the social environment.

    Recent scientific findings about human decision making would seem to threaten the traditional concept of the individual conscious will. The will is threatened from “below” by the discovery that our apparently spontaneous actions are actually controlled and initiated from below the level of our conscious awareness, and from “above” by the recognition that we adapt our actions according to social dynamics of which we are seldom aware. In Distributed Cognition and the Will, leading philosophers and behavioral scientists consider how much, if anything, of the traditional concept of the individual conscious will survives these discoveries, and they assess the implications for our sense of freedom and responsibility. The contributors all take science seriously, and they are inspired by the idea that apparent threats to the cogency of the idea of will might instead become the basis of its reemergence as a scientific subject. They consider macro-scale issues of society and culture, the micro-scale dynamics of the mind/brain, and connections between macro-scale and micro-scale phenomena in the self-guidance and self-regulation of personal behavior.

    Contributors George Ainslie, Wayne Christensen, Andy Clark, Paul Sheldon Davies, Daniel C. Dennett, Lawrence A. Lengbeyer, Dan Lloyd, Philip Pettit, Don Ross, Tamler Sommers, Betsy Sparrow, Mariam Thalos, Jeffrey B. Vancouver, Daniel M. Wegner, Tadeusz W. Zawidzki

    • Hardcover $15.75 £13.95
    • Paperback $8.75 £6.99