Self-Interpretation and Social Cognition


I contrast narrative and theory-of-mind (ToM) approaches to self-understanding and social cognition. A narrative approach is a clear alternative to strict ToM views on self-understanding, some of which deny that we have first-person access to our own mental states. On a narrative approach, self-understanding is more than just familiarity with one’s mental states. It involves a rich knowledge of one’s own embodied comportments and skills, one’s affective life, one’s autobiography, and a knowledge that derives from one’s relations with others. I consider evidence from developmental studies which shows that through our narrative understanding of others we begin to shape our own self-narrative, registering not only their actions and attitudes but also our own experiences in a way that differentiates self and other.

Publication Title

Contributions To Phenomenology