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term for fallacy of believing other minds are like your own?
January 22, 2014 2:18 AM   Subscribe

When I was studying history of philosophy I remember encountering a term which I recall as being either 'historical monism' or 'psychological monism', which referred to the (posited) error of assuming, I think looking historically, that the psychology of other peoples was like your own. I.e. of assuming that you could reasonably attempt to understand their motivations &c. It might have had something to do with heiddegger? It seems unlikely that this would've involved the term 'monism', though, looking back, and I'm not having tons of luck with google. Any clues?
posted by cmyr to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
That does not sound like Heidegger to me.

What your question reminds me the most of, from my copious store of philosophical dilettantism, is the notion of folk psychology.
posted by thelonius at 2:42 AM on January 22


Sounds like it might be related to projection bias.
posted by logicpunk at 2:58 AM on January 22


Something like intersubjectivity?
posted by spelunkingplato at 3:03 AM on January 22


Lesswrong call it the typical mind fallacy: http://lesswrong.com/lw/dr/generalizing_from_one_example/

Which is probably not what you heard in history of philosophy, but might have enough clues to help you research.
posted by curious_yellow at 3:11 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Seems vaguely like a phenomenalogist position. Merleau Ponty maybe? Or Bergson?
posted by deathpanels at 4:05 AM on January 22


At the interpersonal/developmental psychology level, there's also the idea of theory of mind.
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:52 AM on January 22


Might you be looking for ethnocentrism? Specifically the 2nd definition: a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own.
posted by kythuen at 6:44 AM on January 22


Pluralistic ignorance kinda fits.

False consensus

Projection bias
posted by Che boludo! at 9:34 AM on January 22


Theory of Mind is what I thought of as well - in developmental psychology, it is something children are thought to develop by about 4-5 years old (the specific age is still debated in the research). There are a number of empirical studies you might be interested in on the Wikipedia page blue suede stockings links, which use simple scenarios to work out whether children have developed the understanding that other people's minds/thoughts are separate from their own.
posted by augustimagination at 9:35 AM on January 22


I don't know of an exact term for this 'fallacy.' Theory of mind is the typical modern day term for this kind of inquiry, though it's more widely used in psychology than philosophy. In Philosophy, we often call this simply Other Minds.

Monism, at least for me, is linked most strongly in modern philosophy to Spinoza, and the idea that everything is part of a sort of oneness, as opposed to the dualism of Descartes and the like.

You might be thinking of Hegel's notion of Absolute Idealism, which posits a sort of oneness (between the mind and being) as a necessary condition for understanding the world in any capacity. Hegel is basically trying to split the difference between Cartesian dualism and the notion of solipsism, which claims that your own mind is all that can be known by you (tautologically true) and therefore your mind is the only thing that exists. Solipsism as it pertains to the theory of mind and our ability to have knowledge of others was a big theme in Wittgenstein's later work, especially the private language/private pain argument. Wittgenstein argued that the notion of a private language is ridiculous, and therefore we can have a certain understanding of the ideas of others - not the specific ideas, but the idea of the ideas, so to speak (e.g. not that pain but similar pain).
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:14 AM on January 22


lots of interesting stuff here, although nothing is quite what I was remembering. This is going to bug me, I think. Thanks for the leads, though!
posted by cmyr at 11:20 PM on January 22


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