Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 313–315 | Cite as

Matthew Ratcliffe: Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation

Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, xi + 271 pp.
  • Mark Johnson
Book Review

Folk psychology or no folk psychology?—that is the question! Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to embrace the folk psychological theory of mental states as the only game in town, or whether ‘tis nobler to take arms against that sea of troubles and by opposing end them—that is our dilemma. Matthew Ratcliffe takes arms against that theory, and he acquits himself with valor, though he does not quite vanquish his enemy.

Permit me to rephrase. The status of folk psychology has been a focal issue in the past four or five decades of Anglo-American philosophy of mind. Ratcliffe argues that, although folk psychology is not an entirely false view of mind, it plays almost no significant role in how we understand and interact with other people. Moreover, it leaves out most of what actually makes it possible for us to engage others and to communicate with them.

The term “commonsense psychology”, in the book’s title, has two important senses for Ratcliffe. The first sense is so-called folk psychology,...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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