This goes a long way to addressing the issue of what role MNSs could play in

This goes a long way to addressing the issue of what

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sufficient, and may make the appeal to abstract symbols or theoretical inferences superfluous. This goes a long way to addressing the issue of what role MNSs could play in understanding intentions or emotions, which, as I have noted, is more abstract than mere mirroring. But is there a limit to the level of abstraction that can be accounted for by a perception-based theory of concepts? 4.2 Expanded simulation and abstractness Although I am not confident that Barsalou can explain highly abstract concepts satisfactorily, at least some of the elements of his theory may be applied to the concepts that feature centrally in social cognition. For example, Barsalou ascribes a prominent role to introspection in abstract concepts. In discussing introspection, Barsalou speaks of proprioception, representation of one’s emotion states, and representation of what he calls “cognitive operations”, including “rehearsal, elaboration, search, retrieval, comparison, and transformation” (1999, 585). I would like to say a bit about each of these.
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To start with proprioception, Barsalou and Wiemer-Hastings (2005) found that, when asked to list typical features of concepts, subjects cited more introspective contents for abstract concepts than for concrete concepts. So, for example, people would be more likely to mention hunger when listing features for FOOD than for specific kinds of food, such as CHEESE. This is intuitively plausible: where concrete perceptible features are not readily available, people tend to attend to introspectable internal states. Turning to emotions, Barsalou gives the example of ANGER. The concept of ANGER involves the recollected introspection (simulation) of one’s own past affective state(s) of anger. This recollected introspection content could be combined with other components in simulating anger. A simulation, then, may also activate perceptions of angry-behavior, and perhaps also typical cognitive operations underlying judgments typically associated with ANGER, such as the judgment that a given action has caused harm or was unfair. As for the third sort of introspection that Barsalou mentions, namely representation of one’s cognitive processes, I will mention the example of metacognition. The term “metacognition” refers to cognitive monitoring and control of first-order cognitive processes. In other words, it refers to cognitive processes that target other cognitive processes as opposed to events or properties in the world. The targeted cognitive processes include judging the adequacy of a particular response, correcting that response, evaluating one’s ability to carry out a particular task, evaluating the ease or difficulty of learning some new information or of recalling some previously learned information (Proust 2006, 18-19). In sum, although perceptual theories have trouble with abstract concepts, the sort of combination of diverse representations that Barsalou proposes for abstract concepts may work for some of the abstract concepts that are important for social cognition, such as intentions, emotions and various propositional attitudes. A complete account of the role of MNSs in social cognition will of course
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