Re: intersubjectivity
Mon, 21 Apr 1997 11:17:01 EST

>> Tim A. Connor wrote:
>> My cat construes--by which I mean she makes distinctions and varies her
>> behavior accordingly. She can make some quite fine distinctions and
>> adapt to fairly subtle differences in situations. But her construing
>> lacks breadth, complexity, and flexibility (a tight construct system with
>> a narrow range of convenience). She cannot (I rashly assume) construe
>> the architecture of the cathedral of Notre Dame as an expression of her
>> relationship to God, or make a distinction between it and the Great
>> Pagoda, let alone try out the behavioral implications of those
>> alternative constructions of spirituality.

Then Gary wrote:

>How do you know what your cat is 'doing'? Or is this, really, just
>fanciful mind-reading?
>Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps there is some data/grounding/evidence to
>support your claim. I would love to see it.

Your question is a good one, of course. It is always good to have
someone looking over our shoulders and asking us to justify our assertions.
But this isn't really a difficult one, it seems to me. It seems to
me that it is the responsibilty of the person who wants to make the
claim that a cat can construe a Cathedral as an expression of her
relationship to God to make that case. For the person who wishes to
deny this, it goes a long way simply to state that there isn't the
slightest bit of evidence that the cat is able to do this. Further,
cats can't perform even the most rudimentary tasks that one would see
as precursors of the type of adequate self-knowledge in order to make
such a judgment (e.g., cat's don't show self-consciousness when placed
in front of a mirror). So yes, we can make judgments about the other
people's (and organism's) consciousness on the basis of inferences about
their behavior.

Mike Mascolo