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Social cognition and the problem of knowledge

Grant number: 15/04051-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2016
Effective date (End): December 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Mauricio de Carvalho Ramos
Grantee:Hugo Neri Munhoz
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project aims to develop a solution to the problem of the social knowledge, which is comprehended as a set of different entities (such as shared ideas, symbolizations) with a semantic basis that intends to explain both material and social reality and that depends on others sharing in order to exist. The problem of social knowledge may be analytically divided in the problem of its nature and the problem of tis origin. Our first hypothesis is the following: solutions for the problem of social knowledge's origin determine the solutions for the problem of its nature. The problem of nature studies the relation between the social knowledge's set of entities and the objects of reality, other people, and other knowledge entitles, also their change and development condition. The problem of origins studies the conditions of possibilities for the occurrence of such entities, leading roughly to two possibilities: individual explanations (individual cognition) and collective explanations (social cognition). The former implies in a conception of mind preceding the social world, which would be a product progressively built through communicative regulation of perception and cognition of different individuals. At some point and in some way, it gets such objectively that it would be able to impose itself on the individuals. Conversely, collectivist solutions assume that the social world precedes individuals and minds, which they would be the product or a possibility it. In this case, the entities that make up the social knowledge would be emergent properties. Thus, this project puts forward two central theses: a negative thesis and another positive. In the negative thesis, there is an attempt to demonstrate that the individualist option, taken by different authors in different areas of knowledge such as Max Weber, Karl Popper, Noam Chomsky, John Searle, and Jerry Fodor, is not able to solve the problem of social knowledge. This happens due to the dilemma that individual cognition routes: either one accepts a radical innateness, which means determinism of different types, or one falls into infinite regress. While the latter is plausible, we will demonstrate that the stability of its explanations only happens if one accepts tacitly collectivist assumptions. The positive argument, in turn, forms the main part of this project. As a starting point, it takes advantage of naturalistic positions, especially accepting the argument of naturalized epistemology of the American philosopher W.V. Quine. It creates the demand for and acceptance of some theories of natural and social sciences. Thus, to social cognition, we start from sociobiological pragmatism of the American philosopher and social psychologist George H. Mead, the pioneer of social cognition thesis. We will reconstruct both his theory of the organism-environment and his theory theory of organism action, considering how a special kind of emergentism takes place, in which entities such as meaning, conceptual object, idea, reflective intelligence and especially mind emerge from actions and social processes in a broader sense. We will try to update it with recent theories especially Austin's Speech Acts Theory and Clark's Extended Mind Theory. However, the main effort is to investigate the possibility of consistency of the merger between social cognition and a conception of cognitive neuroscience, the social brain - in which brain development (human) could only be immersed in a social situation. Thus, we will reconstruct this idea from neuroscientists that argue for it, giving special attention to the most recent discoveries of the field, a type of neuron responsible for imitation in the superior intelligence of animals: the mirror neurons.

Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
MUNHOZ, Hugo Neri. The boundaries of common sense. 2017. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas São Paulo.

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