Anglo-Saxon Philosophy: A precursor to Theory of Mind?

Anglo-Saxon philosophers have a centrifugal approach, i.e. they start from the important Lockean assumption that in the first instance it is the individual that achieves full knowledge, understanding and definition of himself. Once epistemologically constituted, the said individual proceeds to examine the variety of entities that surround him: trees, stones, horses and inter alia others which look very much like himself. Having this similarity becomes intriguing to him, so he asks the question: what are these things around me? Are they like me?, etc., and in the fullness of time this gives rise to B1 [(knowing others have minds that have thoughts, intentions, emotions, volitions, etc.)] and (even) B2 [(knowing or theorizing what others thoughts, intentions, emotions, volitions, etc. are)]. (Obiols and Berrios 379)

That is a long quote, so let me quick reword it.  Theory of mind has similarities to Anglo-Saxon philosophy.  Their philosophy starts at one point and goes out from there.  Put another way, it starts with step 1 and goes on to step 2 and then step 3.

Step 1: The individual must know themselves.
Step 2: Once step 1 is done, the individual must look around to things outside of themselves
Step 3: Once step 1 and 2 are done, the individual must begin to think about things that are similar to them.
Step 4: Once steps 1, 2, and 3 are done, the individual can begin to understand that others have their own mental states and then move on to theorizing what those mental states may be

This is interesting because now I want to find out when studies began to determine that autistic people don’t know their own mental states.  Was it before or after the 1985 study (my guess is before, but I am willing to be proven wrong).  The reason I ask this is to determine if maybe this philosophy of theory of mind (with an emphasis in philosophy which I have proceeded to bold and underline because it is such emphasized) moves on to influence the writers of the 1985 study to study step 1.

In the 1985 study, they “proved” that autistic people do not have a theory of mind (in other words, they haven’t passed step 4).  Then, they retroactively go back to step 1 (which I assume is probably because steps 2 and 3 are untestable? But, I am going to look to see if maybe these have been tested as well.) to determine that autistic people don’t know their own mental states (which I have read in several articles prior to this).

So, theory of mind as a phrase started in 1978 with Premack and Woodruff, but the concept existed before then.  Can I go on to find the first time the concept was ever used and prove that theory of mind as a concept attempts to assert that it is arhetorical?  Or, might I find that it is deeply steeped in rhetoric and prove that theory of mind is rhetorical even though the literature as of now attempts to assert its arhetoricity in that language has no impact on theory of mind tests.  That was a rhetorical question, you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to (if you want to, go ahead).


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