This post is the first of two that look at a book review written by Karl Friston. Friston is the primary idea man behind embodied cognition (see post Embodied (grounded) Prediction (cognition) so far as I can tell. A book review is a chance to read his ideas in a little less formal and easier to understand environment. He reviews The Age of Insight: the Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present by Eric R. Kandel 2012.
This post joins several others in being only tangentially related to JDM. It is based on the paper: “The felt presence of other minds: predictive processing, counterfactual predictions, and mentalizing in autism,” that appears in 2015 Consciousness and Cognition. The authors are Colin J. Palmer, Anil K. Seth and Jakob Hohwy. (Post Prediction error minimization)
A central ingredient of social experience is that we represent the mental states of other people. This sense of others’ mental states is a part of our understanding and anticipation of their behavior, and molds our own behavior correspondingly. If our friend shows up to the restaurant with a grim face, we have a sense of her mood and adjust our greeting accordingly. If she glances at our empty glass while pouring herself some wine, we have a sense of her intentions and might move our glass closer. This is the concept of mentalizing.
I loved the book Why Men Rebel by Ted Robert Gurr. I read it over forty years ago. It gave me what seemed like a truth that I had not thought about before. That truth was: “Don’t expect anyone to be happy based on some threshold level of consumption and attainment of goals.” Our expectations are created by looking around and seeing what everyone else has and with media and communications, we all know what everyone else has.
This is the concept of relative deprivation. Relative deprivation is defined as our perception of discrepancy between our value expectations and our value capabilities. Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled. Value capabilities are the goods and conditions they think they are capable of getting and keeping. This idea finally got through to me the weakness of the “rational” model–maximizing expected utility, and that there might be other concepts of rationality. Posts like Everyone else is a Hypocrite, Feeling is for Doing, Cultural Evolution, and Human Kinds Perception emphasize this. Gurr was interested in what spurred men to violence. Recently, on the fortieth anniversary of the book, Gurr discussed his book.