Enjeux et Représentations de la Science, de la Technologie et de leurs Usages.
Corrado Sinigaglia Philosophy, University of Milan “Social Cognition & Motor Intentionality”
“Our social life rests in large part on our ability to understand the behavior of others. Which are the bases of this ability ? A very influential view is that we understand the behavior of others because we are able to represent them as having mental states. Without this mind-reading ability the behavior of others would be meaningless for us. Over the last few years this view has been undermined by neurophysiological findings and in particular by the discovery of mirror neurons. The functional properties of these neurons indicate that intentional understanding is primarily based on a mechanism that directly matches the sensory representation of the observed actions with one’s own motor representation of the same actions (Rizzolatti et al 1996 ; Gallese et al 1996 ; see for a review Rizzolatti & Craighero 2004). These mechanism reveals how deeply motor and intentional components of action and action understanding are intertwined, suggesting that they both can be comprehended only starting from a motor approach to intentionality (see Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia 2007). This talk will elaborate and motivate such a motor approach to intentionality in order to account for the pivotal role of mirror neurons in intentional understanding as well as to defend them against some recent challenges - both from those who deny any intentional functions to mirror neurons (see, for instance, Borg 2007) and also those who reduce them to mere (motor) emulator neurons (see Csibra 2004, 2005 ; Jacob 2006) or relegate their activation to a part of a top-down perceptual emulation (see Wilson & Knoblich 2005).”
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