Towards a New Frontier…or Maybe Old (depending on how you look at it)

I have a new purpose again.  On Sunday (Yesterday, so why didn’t I say that?  Well, I will tell you…I don’t know.), I decided to spend an hour and fifteen minutes working through what my thesis could look like.  I worked on my iPad and started working.

I wrote up questions that I still had about theory of mind.  Questions that would lead me down avenues that I could go down if I needed to just in case the research ran dry in the quest for knowledge about one question (or that question was answered without answering any other questions).

I asked the question: What is the history of theory of mind?  Immediately, I saw how I could put together a prezi that was a timeline.  I decided that I would look at as much history of theory of mind as I could.  Therefore, I would not just look at theory of mind in autistics.  I was going to look at how theory of mind works in neurotypicals as well.  This question was what led me from identity formation to theory of mind in the first place.

Today, I found an article entitled “The Historical Roots of Theory of Mind: The Work of James Mark Baldwin.”  It told a story of how JM Baldwin was a psychologist who talked about what is pretty much theory of mind (in very similar terminology as well like mental states).  The thing is JM Baldwin was from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

That means he may be the source of theory of mind.  In his writing, he also talks about two different selves: a personal and a social.  He says that the personal self is developed by “internalizing ‘copies’ of others from their social interaction with others” (Obioles and Berrios 385) and the social self is developed by imitating other people’s behavior in social interactions.  The social self helps develop the personal self and vise versa.

My sense of myself grows by imitation of you, and my sense of yourself grows in terms of my sense of myself.

(Baldwin qtd. Obioles and Berrios 386)

I am trying to determine if this is circular logic.  Is there a distinction between circular logic and circular relationships (I know there’s a word for it, but I can’t think of it, perhaps mutually harmonious in that they both influence each other)?

The part before the comma is the personal self and the part after the comma is the social self.  This is also the beginnings of theory of mind as well.  So, you need to have both a personal and social self in order to even enter into having a theory of mind (while he does not use that phrase, he gives the example of it).

Some notable parts of the paper are where it talks about his detractors.  One of the comments some make is that he was incredibly speculative and didn’t provide empirical data to back up what he theorized.

Just thought I would share this interesting piece.  What will I do with it now?  I think I may go to his articles and try and read them.  While I do that, I will split my time between studying him and finding the history of theory of mind from 1978’s Premack and Woodruff study.


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