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Conceptual Problems in Infantile Autism Research: Why Cognitive Science Needs Phenomenology

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Until recently, cognitive research in infantile autism primarily focussed on the ability of autistic subjects to understand and predict the actions of others. Currently, researchers are also considering the capacity of autists to understand their own minds. In this article we discuss selected recent contributions to the theory of mind debate and the study of infantile autism, and provide an analysis of intersubjectivity and self-awareness that is informed both by empirical research and by work in the phenomenological tradition. This analysis uncovers certain problems in the theory-theory account of autism, and at the same time illustrates the potential value of phenomenology for cognitive science.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, Købmagergade 46, DK-1150 Copenhagen N, Denmark., Email: 2: , Email:

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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