Telling Stories without Words

Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (6-8):6-8 (2009)
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Abstract
In this review article of Dan Hutto's bok Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons, I argue that we can take a functional approach to FP that identifies it with the practice of explaining behaviour -- that is, we can understand folk psychology as having the purpose of explaining behaviour and promoting social cohesion by making others’ behaviour comprehensible, without thinking that this ability must be limited to those with linguistic abilities. One reason for thinking that language must be implicated in FP explanations arises from the history of theorizing about the nature of scientific explanation. I will show that there are other models of explanation that are free from the metaphysical linguistic baggage of the traditional models, and argue that such models can be profitably used to make sense of an explanation-centred FP that need not involve the attribution of propositional attitudes or a functioning linguistic competence. Further, I will argue that there is evidence that pre-linguistic human children engage in explanatory practices, and that some of these explanations may be seen as narrative explanations in an important sense.
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