‘Folk psychology’ refers to the notion that humans can explain and predict the mental states of themselves and others. For most people, the idea that we can ‘mind-read’ in this way is so engrained in our experience of the world that we take it for granted. For example, if someone reaches for then begins to eat a doughnut, we might assume that they possess the mental states of hunger and desire for food. And if we were reaching for a doughnut to eat, we would likely attribute those same mental states to ourselves. As obvious as these conclusions may seem, and as necessary as folk psychology may be for moving through everyday life, some neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers argue that it’s an inadequate and antiquated framework for understanding human behaviour. This animation from Wireless Philosophy offers a short primer on a radical theory known as ‘eliminative materialism’, which posits that, just as modern biochemistry has no need for spirits, a modern scientific framework for understanding human behaviour should move beyond such immaterial concepts as ‘desire’ and ‘belief’.
Video by Wireless Philosophy
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Thinkers and theories
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Meaning and the good life
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Stories and literature
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