• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.


Why do things happen as they do?

Questions about cause are questions about the relationship (correlation) between two or more phenomena. When one thing changes, what happens to other things? And is the change in one thing the result of (caused by) the change in another thing, or is the simultaneous change in both things merely coincidental?

In this chapter, such questions as they bear on folk psychologies are inspected under two headings: (a) aspects of causality, and (b) cultural change and beliefs about cause.

Aspects of Causality

Diverse ways of viewing matters of cause include those of (a) causal versus casual correlations, (b) direct versus mediated cause, (c) methods of correcting causes, (d) time sequences, (e) multiple causation, (f) internal versus external causes, and (g) cross-cultural encounters.

Causal ...
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