Varieties of experience: A new look at folk philosophy of mind


Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists have often divided the mind into fundamental component parts. Does this intuition carry over into folk philosophy of mind? In a series of large-scale studies, we explore intuitive distinctions among different kinds of mental phenomena and consider how these distinctions might organize the conceptual space of the diverse “intelligent” and “social” entities in the modern world. Across studies, independent exploratory factor analyses reveal a common latent structure underlying mental capacity attributions, centered on three types of phenomenal experiences: physiological experiences of biological needs (e.g., hunger, pain); social-emotional experiences of self- and other-relevant emotions (e.g., guilt, pride); and perceptual-cognitive abilities to detect and use information about the environment (e.g., hearing, memory). We argue for an expanded model of folk philosophy of mind that goes beyond agency and experience (H. M. Gray, Gray, & Wegner, 2007) to make basic and important distinctions among different varieties of experience.

Back to Table of Contents