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Storied Minds: Narrative Scaffolding for Folk Psychology

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Abstract:

Using Ian McEwan's 2007 novel On Chesil Beach as a case study, this paper seeks to enhance opportunities for dialogue between researchers in the cognitive sciences and scholars of story. More specifically, now that narrative alternatives to theories of mind have begun to shape debates about the nature and status of folk psychology, it is time to flesh out those alternatives by highlighting the action-modelling capacity built into the structure of stories. Narrative practices like McEwan's demonstrate how stories can be used to configure and reconfigure characters'behaviour from different temporal, spatial, and evaluative standpoints, in the way that a complex molecule or architectural structure can be displayed and manipulated in virtual space with the help of an advanced computer graphics program. In turn, interpreting narrative as a system for building models of action underscores the relevance of narratology for the philosophy of mind -- and vice versa.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: herman.145@osu.edu

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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