Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of ‘belief’ and ‘desire,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘pain,’ and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.
Chapter 14: Folk Psychologies' Significance and Trends
Folk Psychologies' Significance and Trends
Of what use is an understanding of folk psychologies, and what can be expected of folk psychologies in the years ahead?
The three purposes of this final chapter are to suggest why the study of folk psychologies is important, to adopt hindsight for reviewing key features of the book's preceding 13 chapters, and to adopt foresight for speculating about the likely fate of folk psychologies in the future.
The Study of Folk Psychologies
Three vantage points from which to view the significance of studying folk psychologies are those of (a) the functions that folk psychologies perform in the lives of individuals and in the society as a whole, (b) how knowing a variety of folk psychologies can enhance a ...