The Emergence of Empathy in the Context of Cross-Species Mind Reading

  • John Sarnecki
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 8)


Evolutionary accounts of the origins of mind reading and empathy have emphasized the reproductive and social value of understanding other human minds. On this view, selective pressures within human communities contributed to our capacity to imagine ourselves in the spatiotemporal and cognitive place of other individuals. I argue that these social accounts of empathy neglect the phenomenon of mind reading between humans and other species. In particular, I argue that the cognitive demands on early human hunters privileged the ability to take on the perspective of potential prey in tracking. These selective pressures on mind reading not only have serious consequences for how we view empathy but may also have had substantive consequences for how we read other human minds.


Brain Size Perspective Taking Social Account Hunting Strategy Mind Reading 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ToledoToledoUSA

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