Knowing Other Minds and the Inter-mental Dialogue


In this paper I will consider some ontic, epistemological and semiotic aspects of the knowledge of other minds. The main thesis states that as we can know our own mind trough meta-mental process so we can know states, process and contents of other minds using different noetic tools, perceptive and not perceptive. In the first three sections I will analyze the ontic supposition, the similarity by analogy and the   conceptual and ontic attestations of other minds. I will claim that the ontic supposition is the ground and the start of any mental process dedicated to know other minds: first of all a subject S1 must ascertain and state that a subject S2 possess a mind; this statement is an ontic supposition formulated with meta-mental process and inferences according to which a subject S1 supposes that   a subject S2 possesses a mind. This supposition is tied up with the similarity by analogy so S1 can claim that subject S2 possesses a mind analogous to one he possesses. The second step is formed by conceptual and ontic attestations grounded on a shared concept of mind. Knowledge of other minds will be analyzed from epistemic and epistemological perspectives and I will introduce the notions of reliability and adequacy of the knowledge of other minds.

The section 4 is dedicated to a deep analysis of knowing other minds within an inter-mental dialogue. It will be claimed that knowing other minds is a complex process which has a biological foundation and uses   different ways and tools to know states, processes and content of other minds. The analysis is grounded, on one side, on the notions of meanings sharing and, from the other, on three assertions: a) two minds in order to establish relationships between them must share some mental characters; b) each mind is constitutively ready to establish reciprocal relationships with other minds; c) the reciprocal relationships amongst minds are at the same time local and non-local processes.   Reading other minds is essentially an hermeneutic process referred to the expressions of a subject. Finally, will be analyzed inferential processes, generalizations, idetic applications and will be taken into consideration the notions of mental resonance and telenoesis.


Key words: mind, other minds, inter-mental dialogue, resonance, telenoesis



Inter-mental relationships are very complex and presently are deeply investigated by psychologists but in this paper we do not consider psychological relationships amongst humans and we limit our attention only to the modalities with which one mind ascertains and claims the existence of anotheroneand establishes relationships with it in order to know it and to interact with it.

The foundational question is the following: in which way doesa mind ascertain and state the existence of another one? In other words, in which way a subject S1 holds that subject S2 possesses a mind analogue to his own?This question will be analyzed in the following section and in the next ones we will take into consideration knowledge of other minds, relationships amongst minds and the inter-mental dialogue.

In this paper we will use the term noesi (and the relative adjective noetic)to refer to mind’s processes which involve different areas of the neocortex besides other cerebral areas; mental processes are different from the other cerebral processes which do not involve neocortex and they are characterized by their generation and elaboration of meanings; each mental process that generate meanings is called a nomiosis (with the relative adjective nomiotic). The word nosema indicates the result of any mental process such as a thought, a reasoning or an image. Amongst the mental processes we make a distinction between idetic processes which are formulated without a direct elaboration of perceptive or empirical data, and perceptive processes which elaborate perceptive data. Hence, in this paper mind is considered as the whole of the mental processes that involve areas of the neocortex, besides other cerebral areas, and their results such as thoughts, different kinds of reasoning, inferences, images, perceptions, feelings, etc. In the following the semiosis is considered as the mental process of assigning meanings to signs or forming signs with meanings; each nomiosis does not deal directly with signs but could be expressed with signs although not all the nomiosis could be expressed in a system of signs.


1. Ontic supposition onother minds

In which way a subject S1 holds that a subject S2 possesses a mind analogue to his own? The answer to this question consists in a long inferential process and the inferences could be formulated only if S1 ascertains and states the presence of a mind in himself; such a mind could be considered in different ways but it has to possess some characters that differentiate it from any other part of the self and such characters allow to perform different activities such as thinking, reasoning, perceiving, imagining, having emotions or feelings and to guide the behavior.

A further step of the inferential process consists in specifying, explicitly or not, the characters of the self of S1: those characters that form the identity of the self of S1 not only as a specific self but as a member of human species: i.e., the characters that identify S1 as a man. Hence, S1 states that he is a human being on the basis of a continuous observations of his characters; an inductive process on the different instances in which he has ascertained the presence of some characters as those characters which determine that he belongs to the species Homo (here we do not consider the ascertainment of those characters that differentiate him from any other human being); the ascertainment derives from an ex uno generalization that he has formulated on himself with or without awareness; an ex uno generalization is a generalization formulated on different instances of a same something: for example, the same car observed in different occasions as in front of a house, in a parking area or in some other place (for this generalization see: M.Bianca La mente immaginale, 2.1.2).

There is another process activated by S1 and referred to S2. S1, on the basis of observations and inductive processes, notices that S2 possesses those characters that himself possesses and they indicate that S2 belongs to human species; hence S1 can affirm that S2 too is a man as he is. All these processes usually are not formulated explicitly or verbally.

The subsequent steps bring to the conclusion of the inferential process that allow S1 to state that also S2 possesses a mind.

The inferential process that let S1 to assert that also S2 has a mind, analogue to that he also possesses, can be ordered in the following way:

1. S1 asserts that he possesses the identificative characters {IC} that identify a subject as a human being

2. S1 because he possesses the characters {IC} asserts to be a man

3. S1 asserts that also subject S2 has the identificative characters{IC}

4. S1 asserts that if S2 possesses characters {IC} then he is a man

5. Amongst characters {IC} there is also the character (pM), that is, to possess a mind

6. S1 asserts that he possesses character (pM) so he can state that he has a mind

7. S1 asserts that if S2 is a man and he has all the identificative characters {IC} that he also has then S2 too possesses the character (pM) which is one of the characters {IC}

8. S1 asserts that also S2 possesses a mind.

All these propositions are considered assertions, or assertive propositions, formulated, explicitly or not, by S1. In this paper we prefer to adopt the notions of assertion or statement instead of that of beliefs which presently is adopted by many authors to refer to any kind of subjective thought propositionally expressed; this preference is based on the distinction between aletheia and doxa, that is, truth and opinion; an assertion refers to something considered existing or to some state of the world and so can be proved true or false, according to specific criteria, while a belief is neither true nor false for it is an opinion on something; something existing could be phenomenic, belonging to the natural world, or noetic, that is, formulated by human mind (such as concepts, conceptions, notions, etc.) or supposed to be existing like the idea of god, soul, and so on. Hence, for instance, ‘The bottle is on the table’ is an assertion while ‘those flowers are beautiful’, ‘God exists’, ‘I like sportive cars’, ‘all politicians take care only of their own interests’ are beliefs, or propositions of beliefs, although many times, but not always, in everyday language is used for all cases the word beliefs; nevertheless, almost every men knows very well that in some cases he expresses his opinions on something while in others refers to some real something or to a state of the world and his propositions (assertions) could be subject to truth’s control in order to state that they are true or false. So, we distinguish between assertive propositions and beliefs propositions although they share the same formal structure formed by subject and predicate; hence the difference amongst them is not based on their formal structure but on their different intention: from one side, it is claimed to assign some attribute to something and from the other it is expressed an opinion on something that could be phenomenic or noetic. Here below we will use the verbs to state, to claim and to hold referring to assertions while we will use the term beliefs or the verb believe only in the cases in which we refer to subjective opinions on something including the own mind and other minds.

All the steps of this process (from 1 to 8) usually are not formulated explicitly in state of awareness but they could be expressed awarenessly and in a propositional way.

The critical point of this process is the inference in assertion 7. Theoretically speaking we can say that it could happen that S2 has all the characters {IC} except the character (pM). So S1, in order to formulate the assertion 7, must make further observations different from those he has made on other characters {IC}, for example the apparent physical characters of S2. For these characters S1 has formulated inferences from observations referred to the physical characters of S2 which are perceptively observable: he has observed his external physical characters such as having a body, an head, two legs and many others. S1 has used an empirical concept of man: a standard inductive generalization which he has formulated relatively to many observations of human beings and particularly on different observations (ex uno generalizations) of S2; so he has attested that S2 possesses those characters {IC} that also he possesses and that identify him as a member of the species Homo; hence as he belongs to human species so does S2.

Let’s note that the generalization or empirical concept of man do not imply that S2 possesses all the characters {IC}, but he must have at least a sufficient numbers of them in order to allowS1 to classify him as belonging to the class of men: that is, those essential characters that identify a being as a human being. This process is grounded on the fact that S1 refers to characters that he possesses and by using the concept of man he asserts that they are those necessary to belong to the class of men. As the entire process is concerned, this part too is based on a comparison using the concept of man: S1 makes a comparison between himself and S2 and he can formulate it in an inferential way.

We can accept such a comparison because is grounded on perception, on a concept of man formulated by S1 and on an empirical comparison that S1 formulates between his characters and those of S2.

Hence the inferential process of S1 relative to S2 can be accepted becauseit concerns the external characters of S1 and S2 ascertained by perceptive processes; if we accept these processes holding that they carry information corresponding more or less to some state of the world, then we can state that they are valid also in the case in which a state of the world is constituted by S1 and S2.

So we can accept the inferential process until assertion 4, but starting from assertion 5 it is necessary to add some clarifications. If assertions 5 and 6 are not considered from the point of view of an external observer, they are acceptable and legitimated since they are uttered by S1 referring to himself; so it is presupposed that S1 can enter in his self and formulate a knowledge that corresponds to some characters of his self: in this case, particularly, the character is (pM); he formulates an assertion with which he assigns to himself the character (pM) or, in logical terms, he assigns the predicate (pM) (i.e., to possess a mind) to a propositional subject which is himself.

Hence, assertions 5 and 6 are acceptable only from the point of view of S1 and not from that of another subject S3. In this analysis this acceptability is considered sufficient for S1 to formulate assertions 5 and 6 according to what has been previously claimed: the ascertainment that some part of his self (mind) possesses those characters that are different from any others of his self and they are those which allowhim to carry out activities and functions such as thinking, reasoning, imagining, perceiving, having emotions or feelings and to guide his behavior. Hence assertions 5 and 6 are legitimated and acceptable if considered from the point of view of S1.

Assertion 7, instead, is acceptable only from a logical-inferential point of view but cannot have the same empirical (perceptive) support that can have assertions 3 and 4.

In which way S1 can ground assertions 7 and 8 without an empirical support or these assertions too are grounded logically and by an empirical support? S1 can utter and accept assertions 7 and 8 only from a logical point of view if it is accepted the relative inference: S1 utters assertions 7 and 8 because they are derived from assertions 1 up to 6. Nevertheless, this acceptance it seems is not to be definitive for S1 in order to state that S2 too possesses a mind. Except specific instances S1 utters assertions 7 and 8 for he claims that adequate observations can induce him to utter and support them. Which kinds of observations could S1 make in order to support the utterance of assertion 7 and 8? Obviously in the case of minds there are not direct observations as those referred to the physical characters of S2 that let S1 to infer that he belongs to the class of men. Theoretically, S1 cannot have observations of the mind of S2 except those of neurophysiological researches that are not those S1 could refer to. Thus other minds could not be observed, nevertheless S1 could make observations on S2 and, particularly, on his behaviors from which he can infer that S2 possesses a mind. S1 to affirm that he possesses a mind does not need such inferences on observations of his behaviors (self-observations); in many cases such inferences are used by S1 to state the he possesses a mind and to attest some characters of his mind and so he formulates the concept of his mind.

Once again S1 refers to himself: to possess a mind itmeans that he expresses himself in various forms such as language or behavior, thus S1 can infer that if S2 manifest specific language or behavior then his expressions indicate that he possesses a mind analogue to his one; a mind which possesses analogous characters expressed with language or behavior. But this is a special form of inference that does not have any perceptive support, indeed this inference is only suppositional; theoretically it could happen that S2 manifests himself as he had mind, but he could not have it. Nevertheless the statement of S1 is reinforced not only by these argumentations (many authors state that they are argumentations based on analogy) but by the fact that, with reference to other subjects, he has formulated such inference in different occasions and it has appeared to be acceptable; indeed he has accepted such inference for he has ascertained that different subjects who express themselves in a certain way they manifest other aspects which characterize the possession of a mind: for example, to dialogue, to solve logical problems, reasoning or formulate argumentations.

S1 on the ground of an ontic supposition claims that subject S2 possesses a mind. The ontic supposition, as we have already indicated, is inferential and is formulated by S1 with reference to S2; this supposition seems to be sufficient to S1 to state that S2 possesses a mind: the analogue argument seems to be acceptable theoretically and not only for S2.

In accordance with this complex mental (and meta-mental) process S1 holds that he can claim with sufficient support that S2 possesses a mind analogue to his one although different for many aspects; thus S1 supposes that as it happens to him to manifest in a certain way it means to possess a mind, the same holds not only for S2 but for any other subjects: to manifest himself in a certain way it means to possesses a mind. Thus S1 can utter the following assertions: ‘S2 possesses a mind as I possesses one’ and ‘every subject S* which manifests himself with a certain language or behavior possesses a mind’; thus S1 can claim that assertions 7 and 8 are acceptable.

This process, grounded on the inferential ontic supposition, allows the usual relationships amongst minds and so the knowledge of other minds and the inter-mental dialogue.


2. The knowledge of the other minds


From the statement of S1 according to which S2 possesses a mind itdoes not directly follow that S1 can claim to know mental contents and states of S2. Nevertheless, this statement is a good starting step for S1 to formulate others which are necessary to allowhim to form some knowledge of the mind of S2.

On the ground of the observations that allow S1 to state that S2 is a man and as such he possesses a mind, S1 can formulate the following statements:

a) S2 possesses a mind analogue to my mind

From this analogy statement can derive the following ones formulated by S1:

b) as I ascertain to possesses a mind so does S2

c) as my mind possesses contents and states so the mind of S2 does

d) if the mind of S2 is analogue to mine and possesses some essential characters, then also the mind of S2 possesses analogue essential characters

e) as I can know some contents or states of my mind so S2 can know some contents or states of his mind

The last statement is crucial:

f) I can know at least some contents or states of the mind of S2; in third person: S1 can know at least some contents or states of the mind of S2.

In the case in which S1 affirms legitimately, according to what has been noticed before, that S2 possesses a mind his affirmation is grounded on the concept of mind thathe has formulated and it contains the characters of his mind. If S1 adopts a concept of mind formulated on the basis of observations and inferences on his self, then he can apply this concept of mind to S2 using the inferential process we have sketched before; if possessing a mind can be attested by an inferential process and by the modalities of expression of a subject (language, behavior or something else) and S2 expressed himself with these modalities, then S2 possesses a mind as it does S1 that expressed himself in an analogue way. This analogy extended to mind allows S1 to utter the following assertion: ‘S2 possesses a mind analogue to mine’. This analogy’s assertion is acceptable from a logical-propositional point of view, but it is necessary to clarify it.

The analogy applied to assertions related to physical characters, as it has been noticed, is grounded on perceptions referred to other subjects; these perceptions allowS1 to observe that S2 has two legs, one head, two harms, two eyes, a nose, etc. It is an analogy not only perceptive but ontic from which does not follow a statement of equality but only of similarity by analogy; the characters of S1 are similar but not the same of those of S2; for example, for S1 the head of S2 is an head analogue to his, but they are not the same and both of them are heads for they share the characters to be an head; both of them have noses but each nose is different from any others. The perceptive type (or visual perceptive concept) ‘head’ (formulated by a perceptive generalization) applies to both headsof S1 and S2; according to this perceptive type S1 states that there is a similarity by analogybetween his head and the head of S2. In the same way, for example, S1 applies the same perceptive type to other not humans subjects such as monkeys, dogs, horses, crocodiles, flies, etc.

So the analogy referred to body characters is a similarity by analogy that could be considered as part of the direct (through perceptions) knowledge that S1 has of S2.

As far as mind is concerned the similarity by analogy is not directly referred to mind, as happens for legs, heads or arms because mind is not perceptively observed. So, in which way similarity by analogy can be considered as regards to other minds? The analogy is not referred directly to the mind of S2 but to some expressions of S2 which are considered by S1 as expressions of having the attribute to possess a mind and it refers tothe mind of S2.

S1 formulates the similarity by analogy referring both to his expressions and to those of S2: the similarity by analogy holds between his expressions and those of S2. This analogy holds only in the condition in which S1 is able to observe the expressions of S2 (considered as expressions of having a mind) respect to specific stimuli of different kinds: physical, linguistic, emotional, etc.; for instance, the expressions of S2 respect to a perceptive stimulus or other expressions of him when he answer to a specific question concerning himself.

The analogy referred to mind is a similarity by analogy but at first is not referred directly to other minds but to their expressions. This similarity by analogy holds also in the case in which S2 answer to a same stimulus in a way different from that of S1 and the answer of S2 is acceptable from the point of view of S1 for the expression of S2 is an admissible answer within a range of possible answers that S1 could formulate although if he does not. Similarity is related to the fact that the answer of S2 belongs to a range of expressions typical of a subject that possesses a mind. The similarity by analogy lets S1 to formulate an ontic inference: he assigns to S2 the attribute of possessing a mind that allows him to formulate those expressions that belong to a range of expressions of all subjects who possesses a mind.

Nevertheless, although S1 considers the expressions of S2 as similarlyanalogues to his ones, he cannot claim that these expressions necessarily correspond to analogue mental states or contents: his mental states and those of S2 on respect to a specific expression; in some cases the expressions of S2 similar to those of S1 could not correspond to analogous mental states of S1; for instance in the case in which S2 pretends or lies and in many others.

Furthermore the similarity by analogy and not by sameness (equality) and the relative inference which correlates expressions to mental contents, do not lead to hold that it is always possible to formulate a knowledge of other minds.

S1 can formulate the assertions underlined in the previous section and a similarity by analogy and so an inference on the mind of S2. As has been already noticed S1 can know (perceive) the expressions of S2 but could he be sure that these expressions correspond to some specific mental content or state of S2? The inference which correlates the expressions of mind to a specific mind leads to know it?

To the first question S1 cannot give an answer neither grounded nor undoubted but once again he can formulate it on the basis of an inference relative to what has been underlined before; in other words, some expressions of a subject S2 are such for he possesses a mind; thus the answer of S1 to the first question states in a suppositional way that the expression of S2 are expressions of a mind, particularly of his mind (the mind of S2).

The second question, instead, is far more complex but also for this it is possible to answer in an affirmative way.

If the expressions of S2 are expressions of his mind and S1 is also able to perceive them, then S1 can state that he knows something of the mind of S2: at least that part of the mind of S2 that has been recognizable from his expressions. It is a descriptive and not explicative knowledge and of course it is an indirect knowledge: it is indirect on respect of the mind of S2, but it is direct respect to S2’sexpressions.S1 possesses a direct knowledge of the expressions of S2 as it does for phenomenic events or for his expressions, because the expressions of S2 are phenomenic events; nevertheless, S1 does not have a direct knowledge of the mind of S2 for his knowledge is grounded only on these expressions. On to the contrary S1, through theprocess of entering on his mind, can directly know it also without specific expressions as entities of the world, although the expressions of his mind are very often useful to know it.

Hence, S1 although he knows that he cannot enter directly into the mind of S2, can assert he can know it, orat least some part of it, because he perceives the expressions of the mind of S2 and so he can hold that he can access indirectly to it (indirectly because his knowledge is grounded on the reception of the mind’s expressions of S2).

Nevertheless S1’s knowledge of the mind of S2 is not restricted to the perception of the expressions of S2 but could be enriched by other processes that elaborate perceptive data formulating complex inferences which allow him to have a deeper knowledge of the mind of S2 including possible explications of his thought. The expressions of S2 (received by S1) do not manifest only some specific content or mental state of which they are expression, but many other ones correlated with it which can be known by S1 through inferential processes. For example, the expression of an actual mood of S2 manifested by face expression can make S1 to infer that S2 is in a deep psychological bad condition such as a depression. Similar examples are referred to strictly cognitive contents: for example an expressed judgment on somebody’selse behavior can make S1 to infer that S2 has a specific conception of human nature.

In the same way the inferences of S1 can be formulated on the basis of his mental contents, assertions and beliefs which in this case S1 considers (implicitly) as nomiotic indicators or parameters to know other minds although with possible and frequent mistakes that could derive from the use of personal mental contents as indicators useful to know other minds.

Similarity by analogy is useful to assign to others some mental states referred to a specific stimulus or information. In this case too S1 can hold that S2 possesses analogue mental states referred to a stimulus or information and this assignment is part of the process of knowing other minds.

Another relevant aspect of the knowledge of another mind through its expressions is the sharing, more or less deep and extended, of the meanings that could be assigned to them. In the same way in which, amongst members of the same species or of different species, body expressions are meaningful (for example signs of aggression or challenge as usually it happens in men too), so the expressions of the mind (without considering pathological cases) have a meaningful charge that allows subject S1 to know the meaning of an expression of S2 on the basis of a meaning sharing; so S1 assigns to an expression of S2 the same meaning that he has assigned to his analogue expression.

What has been noticed up to know does not still allow to state that S1 could have a reliable knowledge of the mind of S2; as it has been stated S1 possess a knowledge of the mind of S2 respect to the expressions of S2 and if these are of the mind of S2, then S1 can hold that he has a certain knowledge of the mind of S2. Nevertheless, it does not mean that we can claim that S1 knows in a deep and extended way the mind of S2; this happens due to a fundamental character of the mind: its partial un-expressibility, hence it is far more wide and complex of its expressions and indeed only a small part of its contents and states are expressible or really expressed.

If we limit our attention to the expressions referred to biological conditions (or related to the mere survival) we can state that it is possible to know another mind for it expresses itself with signs which have specific shared meanings, such as those or primary emotions.

Instead, if we exclude this knowledge of other minds grounded on shared mind’s expressions, we can state that S1 is able to know deeply not only other minds but some specific states, contents and expressions of mind and even those mental expressions which are not referred to a nomiotic sharing?

To this question we can answer in an affirmative and in a negative ways. The affirmative answer holds that S1 is able to know the mind of S2 although not in deep and extensive or complete way. This knowledge of S1, as previously indicated, is of two kinds: expressive and inferential included the meaning sharing. The expressive one is grounded on different kinds of perceptions of S1 of the expressions of the mind of S2: bodily, linguistic or of some other kinds like designs, artistic works or of any other types. The inferential one, as we have already said, could be the result of inferences formulated by S1 respect to S2 although they are not referred only to expressions. Hence, a knowledge which is not restricted to expressions but to information which can be inferred from them or others inferential forms which can be formulated from judgments of S1 on S2 in an automatic way or of judgments of other subjects on S2; hence, obviously, the dialogue between S1 and S2 and information acquired by a continuity of relationships between them. These two conditions can allow S1 to know in a certain measure the mind of S2. In any case, it is always an indirect knowledge of S2 since S1 cannot enter directly in to the mind of S2 as he can do for his own mind.

The negative answer is grounded on the limitations of the first one and S1 cannot have a direct access to the mind of S2: the indirect access does not allow theoretically to control the knowledge that S1 has formulated on S2 because the mind of S2 might have hidden or never expressed or not expressible contents that S1 can never know; amongst these there are also the lies; furthermore, the mind of S2 could possesses states or contents which are not comprehensible by S1 or states and contents which are not even known by S2. In any case, all these possibilities, included fictions, let us to state that other minds can be known but not in deep and extensive way and the knowledge is not always reliable. As usually it happens amongst humans, the other minds escape from the knowledge of the others; usually it happens, even if after a long relationship, that the contents of another mind become evidently different from those that have been previously assigned to it.

Generalizations referred to many minds and inferential processes referred to a specific mind are necessary to enter in other minds and to know not all but at least some of its states and contents.

Furthermore, we must underline that the brain of many species, included the humans, is the result of the neuro-evolution in which an essential aspect is that of making possible relationships amongst brains of different organisms of a species or of different species. For humans these relationships, due to the presence of the neocortex and of the mind, are realized by means of mental relationships that usually we prefer to call psychological. So the negative answer is acceptable, but only partially, for the unknowability of other minds would be contrary to the presence of mind itself; in fact, mind is firstly a result and then a device (or expedient) of the neuro-evolution not only to better satisfy the needs of survival, but to establish with fellows humans relationships which are always grounded on inter-mental relationships also relatively to the satisfaction of the needs of survival. Knowing other minds is indeed an essential capability of mind although, as we noticed before, can be limited.

Hence, the affirmative and negative answers are not alternative and in conflict, but altogether underline that other minds are knowable and unknowable at the same time; indeed many contents and states of other minds are knowable and they are a relevant part of human inter-mental relationships, of the intersubjective dialogue and in general of human relationships, although it can be different the reliability of each specific knowledge of other minds. Instead are not knowable many others contents and states of other minds which not only are not expressed but are not reachable even with inferential processes. In general, we cay state that other minds are knowable in an adequate way useful for the activations of inter-mental processes and to establish human relationships necessary for survival and to satisfy needs, motivations and desires of each human being.

At this point it must be underlined the difference between reliability and adequacy. Any knowledge is said reliable if its information corresponds in a certain measure to something or to some state of the world: for example a perception of a bottle is reliable if its information describes the properties of the bottle as it is in the world; the same holds for purely noetic something; any knowledge, instead, is adequate if it allows a subject to behave in a certain way which allows him to satisfy his needs and motivations and to reach some goal or to perform an action; reliability is an epistemological attribute, while adequacy is a pragmatic one. If a knowledge is reliable then it also could be adequate, but to be adequate does not mean to be reliable.

Thus from the point of view of a minimal adequacy in order to fit needs and motivations for biological and existential survival, knowledge of other minds is adequate and can also be reliable; instead, a part from this adequacy states and contents of other minds could be not knowable, but this knowledge could be extraneous to the standard modalities of inter-mental dialogue; nevertheless in specific condition a subject S1 could require a greater knowledge of the mind of S2 and in such a case he could activate suitable procedures to reach a better knowledge of S2 different from the standard ones and with a greater degree of reliability. Complexity and articulations of interpersonal relationships very often can bring a subject to activate complex processes of knowledge of other minds as it happens, for example, inside a couple’s relationships, amongst friends or members of some association or within the psychotherapeutical settings.


3. Conceptual and ontic attestation of other minds

The affirmation of the presence of a mind in another subject and the relative knowledge of its contents and states are epistemic (they are beliefs) and in the meantime epistemological (cognitive assertions about contents and states of another mind). These two levels, which are activated when a subject S1 has any kind of relation with a subject S2, are grounded on and presuppose an attestation/supposition from which it derives a statement on the existence or better an assignment of existence of other minds. In the previous sections have been analyzed the factors that lead a subject S1 not only to believe but to state that another subject S2 possesses a mind; moreover it has been noticed that the crucial factor that let the activations of these processes is an attestation of existence: in other words, in order to state, or stating, that a subject possesses a mind itis necessary to suppose not just his existence but his existence as a subject that possesses a mind. This supposition is formulated, even un-awarenessly, before the formulation of the statement of assigning the attribute pM (to possess a mind) to another subject or in the right instant in which is formulated such statement; this supposition has espistemic and ontological aspects. For the first one the supposition is referred not only to a subject but to his mind and allows to activate a gnoseological process; in other words, generally, in order to formulate gnoseological propositions on something it is necessary suppose or presuppose that this something exists or at least to hold (or to believe) that it exists. Hence a bond with the second aspect: the supposition has an ontological aspect for it states that this something to which we refer (in this case a subject and his mind) is considered not just existing, but to this existence is assigned a certain degree of evidence; so it is possible to formulate an assertion, more or less reliable, that affirms this existence.

Hence the condition in which S1 assigns some attribute to S2 and claims that pM is an attribute of S2 presupposes an attestation of existence referred to S2 and on his mind, before the activation of a cognitive process or simultaneously with its activation.

This attestation of existence can be formulated in two different and correlated levels: conceptual and ontic.

In the conceptual level the mind of S2, on the evidence of his existence/presence, is attested by S1 on the basis of idetic/conceptual operations such as those outlined in the preceding sections. It means first of all to use conceptual tools which lead to the formation of the self-concept, the concept of the own self, the concept of other selves and those of its own mind and of the mind of others. In this condition the others and the other minds belong to a conceptual level and not an ontic one; they are operational concepts which allow to formulate mental and meta-mental statements on them (others and other minds).

S1 at first does not consider a real subject but the concept of him that he has in his mind and so he formulates a correspondence betweenthis concept and the real subject S2 (this concept is formed by ex uno generalizations and various inferences). The mind of S1 before activating other processes works with this mental content: the concept of S2. Although S1 as a subject could have a real relation with S2, the attention of his mind is not turned directly to the physical S2 but to the noetic S2 to which he has assigned various attributes; and amongst these the attribute to possesses a mind (pM). The mind of S1 works on this set of attributes assigned to S2, that is, the concept of S2 (the noetic S2). Hence the conceptual attestation of the mind of S2 is formed by the assignment of the attribute pM to the concept of S2.

S2 might not have a real brain and mind but it is sufficient that his concept in the mind of S1 possesses such attributes which allow S1 to attest conceptually the presence of a mind in the concept of S2, that is, pM as attribute of the noetic S2. On this ground S1 can formulate existential propositions such as: ‘S2 possesses a mind analogue to mine’. So the conceptual process allows S1 to formulate afterwards a direct attestation of attributes to S2, particularly, the attribute pM; S1 shifts his attributive activity from the noetic S2 to the physical S2 which is the object of his perceptions and of his existence’s attestation.

The conceptual attestation referred to S2, or better first of all to the concept of S2, and afterwards to S2, belongs to the conceptual modality of mind; according to this modality the mind of S1 respect to the world works in two phases; the first is referred to concepts relative to the world and the assignment of attributes to them; the second consists in the application of these concepts to the world and so the assignment of attributes to the world also in the linguistic form of predicates assignable to the propositional subject ‘world’. This modality is applicable also to the perceptive processes. Thus, first of all is the ontic attestation of concepts in the mind of S1 which allow him to formulate an ontic attestation of S2 and particularly of his mind (it is necessary to observe that not every process of survey of the world and of the self has such a structure because it can be formulated in a not conceptual form).

The ontic attestation referred to S2 is the presupposition of any affirmation on the world, S2 included; the ontic attestation referred to the mind proceeds from the conceptual attestation of S2 and of his mind, with the assignment of the attribute pM to the noetic S2 and afterwardsto the physical S2.

If the concept of S2 formulated by S1 has assigned the attribute pM to S2, then S1 can formulate ontological affirmations on the mind of S2; in other words, the concept of S2, included the attribute pM, is ontologically applied to the physical S2; thus S1 affirms not only the existence of S2 but the existence of a mind in S2 conformingly with the concept of mind formulated by S1. Hence the process passes from the conceptual attestation of the concept of S2 to the ontological attestation of S2, particularly the existence of his mind.

These attestations work in a continuative way so S1 can activate other processes which assign attributes to the mind of S2 and such processes characterize the S1’s knowledge of the mind of S2. The modification of the concept of S2, on the ground of idetic, perceptive and inferential processes, brings to a modification of the knowledge of S1 on S2 and from this process derives the attitudes that S1 adopts towards S2.

Attestation’s processes, particularly the ontic one, lead to point out the ontic sharing between S1 and S2 particularly that ontic sharing according to which S2 possesses a mind analogue to that of S1.

Nevertheless, conceptual and onticattestations do not have only a procedural value that has been outlined, but can be considered from a strictly ontic point of view; in this case are not attestations but ontic foundational sharing; they are foundational for are the foundation of the inter-mental processes; they are evident because can be pointed out by S1 and by S2. The ontic sharing is primary respect the attestations; in other words, is this condition that let the formulation of the conceptual and ontic attestations.

The observations presented let to state that the affirmations of S1 relative to the existence of S2 and particularly of his mind, first of all are relative to a conceptual level on which works the mind of S1 and afterwards are ontically applied to S2 and to his mind.


4. Relationships amongst minds and the inter-mental dialogue

The topic of this section is relevant not only for the cognitive psychology and social psychology (the interpersonal relationships) but also for philosophical anthropology which has analyzed the inter-subjectivity. In this paper we do not consider the many psychological aspects of inter-subjectivity and of the interpersonal relationships but we restrict our attention only to the analysis of some modalities of the relationships amongst two or more minds.

Inter-subjectivity and interpersonal relationships, in which there are many factors that guide their dynamics, work within the relationships amongst minds (although not always with a proper inter-mental dialogue) which in their dynamics give rise to conceptions of the world, values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

The analysis of the inter-mental relationships, differently from intra-mental processes (within each mind) must start with a relevant question: why and in which way two minds can establish relationships?

To answer to this question we must start form three assertions: a) two minds in order to establish relationships between them must share some mental characters; b) each mind is constitutively ready to establish reciprocal relationships with other minds; c) the reciprocal relationships amongst minds are at the same time local and non-local processes.

In the previous sections have been analyzed the noetic procedures which can be activated by a mind in order that a subject S1 can state that another subject S2 possesses a mind analogue to his one. Nevertheless, this assertion, considered as beliefs-supposition, is not sufficient to allow the mind M1 to establish relation with the mind M2. The analogy is fundamental, but to examine inter-mental relationships it is necessary to deeply analyzed the nature of the analogy in order to assert the thesis a): two minds in order to establish relationships between them must share some mental characters (analogue sharing of the possession of some characters of mind).

The analogy with which S1 justifies the presence of a mind in S2, although in a supposition mode and not explicitly, is based on the fact that some characters of M1(S1) (the mind of S1) are analogously present in M2(S2); in other words, S1 and S2 possess not only a mind but both minds possessesanalogous informative contents and analogous ways of operating thus, although with deep differences, they operate with analogous processes but can generate different mental configurations and different behaviors in S1 and S2.

In order to establish mutual relationships M1 and M2 first of all must be two minds and this can be ascertained reciprocally, M1 as regards to M2 and M2 as regards to M1. More generally, with reference to the subjects, it is reproduced in two directions the process which has been underlined for S1 which attests suppositionally the mind of S2.

This step, which can be expressed in two different and parallel assertions formulated by S1 and S2, if it is deeply analyzed, points out that the suppositional analogy (of S1 and of S2) is formed by different factors that allow the sharing of various characters. First of all, hence, it must be present a parallel suppositional analogy: S1 and S2 must share a similar suppositional analogy; the suppositional analogies of S1 and S2 are such because they both suppose the presence of a mind in the other subject. As it has been previously underlined with reference to S1, these analogous and parallel suppositions must be founded in a shared concept of mind; thus, S1 and S1 must share the same concept of mind or at least an analogous one. This unexpressed suppositional sharing could be pointed out in the standard interpersonal relationships in which a subject S1 believes to establish mental relationships with a subject S2 because they both share the same concept of mind which they apply to themselves and to another subject.

To the contrary, let’s think to the case in which we establish relationships with young children or with babies: the human tendency to establish inter-mental dialogue, as we know, is different from the condition in which there are two human adults subjects.

The primary sharing of the concept of mind and the assignment of a mind to another are correlated by the fact that the concept of mind is characterized by many factors and are these whichground the shared suppositional analogy which allowthe inter-mental dialogue. Which could be these characters of mind, or better of the concept of mind, shared by two subjects and thus by two minds?

It is possible to outline the most relevant characters which are shared by a community of minds and which constitute the shared concept of mind. The first is the location of the mind within the body and particularly in the head; this character seems obvious but in the past and still now there are community of men (for example some Amazonian groups) for which the mind is located in the body but not in some specific place; the second one refers to the substance of the mind considering it constituted by some real and material and not spiritual stuff and in such a sense the mind is different from soul. The third states that mind is different from any other part of the body. The fourth refers to the complexity of mental operations: mind formulates reasoning, argumentations, images and generally different kinds of thinking; the mind let us to make choices, take decisions and to activate behaviors and complex actions; it activates emotions, moods, passions and feelings; the mind through perception and reasoning allows us to know the world, to establish and guide, also using language, interpersonal relationships and to know other selves and other minds; furthermore the mind allows to organize human collectivities and to do any kind of intellectual, cultural and artistic activities. The fifth one states that it is possible to read the contents of own mind and of the mind of others. This way to consider mind, although with many differences amongst cultures and people, is the shared concept of mind at least in the postmodern western civilization (a shared theory of mind).

From the sharing of the concept of mind, and particularly of the characters outlined, derives that S1 can hold with sufficient ground that if S2 possesses a mind then it possesses the characters here above outlined thus he expects that the mind of S2 works according to these characters; hence, for example S1 expects that S2 reasons, possesses emotions and feelings, that he is able to communicate and to understand his words and answers in an adequate way, that he responds to specific stimuli in a manner analogous to his within a spectrum of admissible answers for a mind, etc.

Thus when S1 assigns a mind to S2 he does assigning to the mind of S2 the characters we have outlined that he assigns also to his own mind.

The second assertion, b), states that mind is constitutionally ready to establish relationships with others minds; we have already analyzed this assertion and we have hold that human mind embodied in the brain, in a similar way of the brain of other living beings, is not only ready to maintain physical organism, and to the search for the energies necessary for survival, but to establish relationships with any other minds not only to improve the individual survival but to fulfil various human interests and personal satisfactions.

Relationships amongst minds are intrinsic of the complexity of human mind which allow to express them in very different forms such as the dialogue based on a linguistic or bodily exchanges. Modalities of mental exchanges are grounded on the specific structure of each mind, on cultural influences and on the characteristics of the minds involved.

The assertion c) derives from the way in which in this paper mind has been considered, particularly its generation of meanings (nomiosis) and its expressivity. The characters of mind make the inter-mental relationships to be at thesame time local and not local; inter-mental relationships are local for are formulated within each mind of the subjects involved, while they are not local because they are inside every mind involved: my mind is local for it is inside of my body and self and is not local for when I express it in a certain system of signs and these signs are received by another subject my mind becomes part of his mind; nevertheless, at the same time, becomes something in the world which could be observed and analyzed by a mind external to the relation; a process that happens very often in human condition.



A) Expressive, signic and symbolic sharing


Within inter-mental dialogue there is not a direct reading of states and contents of other minds; if it would be possible it could signify to access directly to mental configurations of another mind and to detect the information in them; this process happens in the reading of our own mind for which there is a direct access to own mind through meta-mental processes. Instead inter-mental dialogue, excluding on the basis of the actual knowledge the direct access to mental configurations of other minds, is grounded on the capacity of human mind to express its states and contents with different kinds of signs or symbols.

Inter-mental dialogue from a communicative point of view is the transmission and the reception of information (or messages) through the use of a system of different kinds of signs. Particularly, the transmission of information is possible because contents and states of mind are coded in a system of signs; the mind expresses itself with this system of signs.

Reception, instead, in the same way in which it occurs in any processes of transmission of information (or communication process) does not include the codification of mental states and contents, but the decoding of the signs that have been received. In the inter-mental dialogue in which are involved two minds, M1 and M2, both processes are activated by both minds; this happens in a circular communication from a subject S1 to a subject S2 and from S2 to S1 in a reiterative schema. Thus, from one side both minds M1 and M2 codify in a system of signs their states and contents which are transmitted with these signs and, from the other, they decode the signs they receive one from the other.

In this condition we must suppose that: a) both M1 and M2 express their states and contents with an analogous modality as it happens with the expression typical of each species of primary emotions; hence, the members of a species express their emotions with the same signs; for example with phonic, pheromonic or behavioral signs. b) M1 and M2 within the process of expression, beyond the shared sign modality, must share the same system of signs; so in Homo, as well as in other living species, each man to express to others his emotions uses the same signs so that they are readable by other men and in many instances by members of other species.

So, as we know, usually the encephalic expressions in many species use a shared system of signs which is genetically determined; the semantic univocality in the majority of cases permitthat the signs that are used are shared and readable by all members of the own species and by members of others species with whom there are relationships in a specific habitat.

An analogous process happens for mind M1 and M2 but in this case there is not a semantic univocality of signs which is genetically determined, exception for the primary emotions, because signs that are used in the inter-mental dialogue have conventional/cultural meanings which can be such for two people, for many of them or for an entire collectivity; in this case signs are culturally determined and specific of a culture so they could be not understandable by subjects belonging to another culture; this is true for the use not only of the signs of the natural language but of other kinds of signs such as symbols or icons that possess meanings shared by the members of a culture.

For such a reason, as it is well known to information and communication theory, two minds M1 and M2 in order to establish a relation with information exchange they not only must express themselves in analogue modalities and use the same system of signs (or more than one) but they must possess a shared semantic of this system of signs; in other words, the signs that are used must have the same meanings for all subjects and so to refer from one side, to analogue mental states and contents and the shared semantics is grounded on the relationships between signs and mental contents and states; form the other, obviously, to entities and states of the world.

Nevertheless, this condition, although is necessary for inter-mental dialogue, is only theoretic since the shared signs used to express the own mind and to transmit own states and contents to another mind do not possesses a strict semantic univocality as it happens for those that express primary emotions in Homo and in other living species. The systems of signs are conventional and their semantics is not strictly univocal; we cannot state that there is not a shared semantics since if it would not be a sharing it would not be possible any mental exchange; nevertheless from one side signs, although with a sufficient semantic univocality, possess too a wide semantic halo thus they could be read in many different ways; so goes for each mind when expresses itself and for other minds that receive information codified in a conventional system of signs. From the other, the semantic halo is made more complex by the short or long strings of signs and their syntax as it happens for the natural languages; hence a semantic plurivocality goes in parallel with a degree of univocality which is necessary for transmission and reception of messages between two minds.

Inter-mental dialogue runs between semantic (and syntactic too) univocality and plurivocality and both of them are derived from an underlined meaningfulness more or less shared; thus there are involved reading processes of other minds that very often activate hermeneutic processes.

The observations that have been outlined are useful to analyze the modalities of reading/interpretation of other minds and they are called extrospective processes.


B) The extrospective processes

The extrospective processes are those mental and meta-mental processes that are activated, differently from the introspective ones which are turned to the own mind, in order to read, interpret and know contents and states of other minds and so their nomiosis (their meanings) and the relative mental configurations. These processes, as we will hereinafter underline, do not have a direct access to other minds, but they are formed by the elaborations of the expressions of other minds and by noetic processes, particularly inferential, applied to other minds. In the following two sections will be analyzed the different kinds of extrospective processes and will be outlined their validity and their limitations.



B1) Reading/interpretation of the expressions of other minds


The reading of the external expressions of other minds is referred to the different kinds of signs and at the same time is a process of recognition of signs with their semantic correlation (decoding) and an hermeneutic process which from signs goes to mental contents and states (configurations); indeed, decoding of signs is not done just for itself but it is fundamental to know the mental contents and states and the meaningful processes of other minds. There are different kinds of signs which can be used by a mind M1 in an exclusive or mixed way in order to transmit expressions to a mind M2.

The first system of signs, which is not always the more relevant, is the natural language; in such a case contents and states of a mind M1 or M2, once they have beenformulated, are expressed with the signs of a natural language in the form of propositions (assertions or beliefs) which, coded intentionally according to these signs, express mental contents and states, i.e. nomiotic processes and configurations: propositional or quasi-propositional descriptions of contents and states of the own mind; this process brings with it different difficulties but it is sufficiently reliable: these descriptive propositions, or quasi-propositions, in a certain way correspond to the information embodied in mental contents and states.

This system of signs is the more conventional compared to the others signs; although each man learns natural language correlating signs with their semantic references, this correlation in many instances is not univocal for its intrinsic semantic halo; as we have already underlined, a minimal semantic univocality allows the transmission of information from a mind to another; nevertheless semantic plurivocality is such that the reading of these signs transmitted from M1 to M2 is always subject to an hermeneutic process; this process concerns not only the meanings of single signs but also, and this is more relevant, the correlation amongst them and so the semantic of strings of signs or of many strings altogether. In other words, in the standard case M1 transmits to M2 a sequence of propositions correlated one to another in different ways: for example in logic or argumentative ways, or in one in which meaningful bonds are not always explicit and easily noticed. Moreover, the process of interpretation must take care of the context in which propositions are formulated.

The reading process is grounded, first of all, on the perceptions which receive signs, for example the phonic or visual ones. The primary involvement of the perceptual activities let the reading to be guided by such processes which ascertain signs in their perceptive immediacy and from this derives their recognition as signs of a natural language. These signs received are re-activated in the mind of the receiver as they were uttered by his mind so are activated meaningful configurations relative to those signs and perhaps (applying the theory of mirror neurons to the reception of linguistic signs) the area of the cortex that allows to utter them or predisposes to utter them (the sensory-motor cortex); the observation of human behavior allows to hold that some subject repeats in the mind, and even he utters, the words turned to him at the same time in which he hears them for instance within a intersubjective dialogue.

Thus to receive by M2 the signs of M1 means to re-activate them in itself and more generally to form in it long sequences of signs which ‘reflect’ those that have been received. To share the meaning of a sign first of all means to find inside of the own mind this sign and activate it with its semantics: the semantics shared by M1 and M2. A similar process is activated for the other kinds of signs for which is not always present a semantic plurivocality.

As it is well known, beside the signs of natural languages, other minds could be read through nonverbal signs: a) body signs, b) proxemics and bodily postures, c) physiognomic and facial expressions, and, in indirect way, d) with other signs such as writings and artistic or cultural forms of expressions.

In the first three cases, often the reading of other minds does not happen in an explicit mode but, relatively to a shared semantics for these signs, has a more or less strong semantic univocality because they are part of expressive mode of the species Homo or they are shared by all member of a collectivity. For such reasons in the greatest part of the instances, reading other minds is an unaware process which does not need interpretations. Nevertheless, the semantic sharing grounded on culture or on human genome is based on a shared presupposition according to which these signs corresponds to specific mental contents or states. A presupposition that once again is grounded on the analogy accepted by a mind M1 on respect to a mind M2: the nonverbal signs used by M1 correspond to specific states or contents of his mind in the same way the same signs or some similar ones correspond to analogue mental states and contents of M2 that at turn they are analogue to those activated by the same signs used by M1; thus, the reading by M1 of nonverbal signs of M2 are considered by M1 as corresponding and analogous to states and contents which are activated in his mind in the case in which he expresses himself with these signs.

Nevertheless the process is not so linear because in the reading of signs of other minds are not only relevant the single signs, although in sequential mode, but the modalities in which the signs are uttered and more relevant the bonds amongst different signs as it happens in the case in which reading other minds elaborate at the same time, for example, physiognomic and proxemics signs or bodily signs together with verbal ones. Thus, the univocality of the signs becomes weak within a larger semantic referred to the, more or less, contemporary presence of different kinds of signs. Furthermore, as it is well known, are relevant the modalities of utterance of signs as it happens in the case in which a not verbal sign is matched with a verbal one that can generate a different semantics from that in which it is presented in an isolated way from other signs. Pragmatic linguistics holds that not only the utterance but the context of the utterance makes it possible to generate different semantics in the reading of other minds. In this paper we do not analyze this topic, but it is useful to say that for not verbal signs, although grounded on a shared semantics, their readings is a complex process in which intervene many factors relative not only to signs in themselves but also to the type of their relationships and to the minds involved.

Finally, it is necessary to briefly analyze, the last modality which is the one more subject to an hermeneutic reading; that is, the ways in which a mind expresses itself through very complex semiotic forms such as those of literature, visual arts or of some other kind. Without considering the differences amongst the languages used and their relative expressive and hermeneutic semiosis, it can be hold that the complexity of expressive literature and artistic forms are such that their reading does not bring directly to a univocal correspondence between signs and mental states and contents of other minds. Thus, also in these cases the hermeneutic process is fundamental not only in order to interpret signs but to hold a correspondence amongst these sings and states and contents of other minds. An hermeneutic process which is always active within the reading of other minds thus it is useful to analyze it in general without a direct reference to the different kinds of signs.

In this paper we do not analyze the different ways in which is considered philosophical hermeneutics but we restrict our attention only to the fact that reading other minds very often is an hermeneutic reading; in other words, the reading of other mind involves not only reception of signs of different kinds with their shared semantics (univocal and plurivocal semantics) and the semiotic activation of these signs in the receiving mind, but also different factors which make it different from a mere signic decoding particularly for it activates hermeneutical process; this process is due not only for the presence of semantic plurivocality and of a relative shared univocality, but because the analogy with the own mind is not a diriment parameter in order to correspond the signs of other minds to their states and contents analogue to owns relatively to specific signs and semiosis.

The hermeneutic process is grounded on the shared semantics and it does not consider only single signs and their inherent connections but, as it is well known to semiologists, the syntactic disposition and the pragmatic meanings (beyond the semantic ones): in this case, the utterance’s modalities of signs, contexts, relationships amongst them and the possible effects on the receiver.

The primary goal of the hermeneutic process is not to interpret signs in themselves (that is, to clarify their semiosis), even if this is relevant, but to formulate hypotheses of correspondence between signs and states and contents of other minds. Differently from a semiologist, a mind M1, which has a relation with M2, is not interested to analyze in themselves the semiotic structures of the expressions of M2, but to notice that these semiotic structures are hypostasis of states and contents of the mind of M2. The mind M1, too, as a semiologist, activates semiotic processes on respect to the expressions of M2, but these processes are different and it is possible to consider them as semiotic-correspondent processes; in other words, semiotic processes that analyze the semiotic structures in order to formulate correspondences with states and contents of other minds; in a rigorous way, it must be outlined that the correspondences are between signs and their referents which are nomiotic configurations of other minds. Differently from semiotic analyses it is not interesting to notice the semantic reference of the signs considered in themselves.

In order to formulate semiotic-correspondent hypotheses, that we call mimetic hypotheses, the mind M1 works on the basis of three factors: a) a model of the mind, b) a semiotic model of correspondences between signs and mental states and contents (nomiotic configurations) and c) a model of the mind M2.

The first factor has been previously analyzed and it is been stated that it is possible within mental relationships of a specific culture in which mind is considered as that specific part of the self which performs activities such as thinking, reasoning, imagining, feeling emotions and so on. The second one refers, on one side, to a semiotic sharing of signs; in other words, a sharing of their meanings in the different contexts not only the linguistic ones; on the other, a semiotic model according to which signs used by a mind, and then by a self, are uttered as expressions of his mental states and contents. A model that has been already analyzed which is fundamental in order to read and interpret signs of other minds. In this model is included the analogy: analogous signs are referred to analogous mental states and contents, that is to nomiotic configurations of the own mind and of other minds. This model is considered as a presupposition accepted within inter-mental relationships but it is never strongly reliable so are always necessary hermeneutic processes.

The third factor is more complex than the others and is difficult to analyze it and it is on this one that are measured the other ones. The model of other minds can be considered in two ways: a model of the mind and of the own mind applied to other minds and a model of a specific mind. The first one has been considered in the previous part while the second must be clarified. The process that we are analyzing allows the mind M1 to apply factors a) and b) to a mind, but their application is formulated on the basis of a model of a specific mind M2. Thus, inter-mental relationships modify themselves on the basis of the relative models of the different other minds which are involved; often it happens that the same model of other minds is applied to different minds and this process brings to reading’s difficulties and so a more difficult interpretation’s process.

What do we mean by model of another mind? We mean that M1 in order to read the mind M2 and to activates an hermeneutic process, must refers to considerations and judgments of the mind M2 (the concept of the mind M2, the noetic M2). So are activated many processes which refer always to the model of mind M2; this model is referred to many, even if not all, the aspects of M2; for example, its ways of reasoning, its answers to stimuli, its different noetic frameworks, its ways to consider some psychological or mental characters and so on.

The reading and particularly the interpretation of other minds proceed starting from the model of the other mind with which there is an actual relation and the application of factor a) and b) obviously could result different.

The activation of another mind’s model is not aware (at least it is not always so) and is the guide for the processes of interpretation of signs of other minds. Hence, these signs are interpreted considering at the same time the model of the own mind, M(OWNM), and the model of other minds and in particular of a specific other mind, M(OTM). It is useful to observe that the model of other minds within an inter-mental relation transposes or adapts itself to the model of a specific mind.

M(OWNM) and M(OTM) are guides and parameters to activate hermeneutic processes that in such a way can interpret signs of other minds with reference to a specific mind and so to its characters known directly or with inferential processes.

The interpretation of the signs of other minds consists primarily in three operations: a) assignment of meanings to single signs and their interconnections; b) assignment of sense to other’s expressions; c) correlations amongst signs and mental states and contents.

a) Assignment of meanings to single signs and their interconnections

The interpretation of any kind of text, included the mental ones of the own or of other minds, develops with its analysis on the basis of a sign’s codex and afterwards formulating interpretative hypotheses; in other words, assigning to the text different meanings and accepting one of the interpretative hypotheses. The interpretative process can be considered as a meaningful re-assignment which evaluates the evident or accepted significations and formulate others which, in theory, allow to comprehend the text in a full way. Interpretation, considered as hypotheses formulation, involves directly the notion of comprehension: to interpret a text means to comprehend it in its wholeness. Comprehension, further, allows to point out that interpretation, although it considers standard or evident meanings or literal ones, has the goal of bringing to surface, or to make evident, meanings that can be considered as peculiar of the text although they are not evident. Thus, the hermeneutic analysis consists in bringing to evidence meanings that are not evident; often this process is a fiction because meanings are not revealed from the text but they are truly meaningful assignment also not present in the text; in such a case is an meaningful interpretation which cannot correspond in any way to the meanings present in the text.

Thus, we hold that there are two interpretative forms: 1) the revealing one and 2) the appositive one. The first can bring to surface or put on to evidence meanings present in the text; the second one, instead, although some time could appear in the form of the first, ascribes meanings that are not present in the text.

Within the interpretative analysis, often, are activated both the revealing and the appositive processes and its goal consists in formulating a relation between text and interpretation and a deeper relation between the text and the mind that has formulated it.

The interpretative answer of a text refers to a standard and initial question: what does it means the text, particularly, which is the thought of who has formulated it, that is, the author of the text? On one side, the relationships between interpretative hypotheses and the text from which derives the argument to support one or another hypothesis. Onthe other, the correspondence relation between the meaning of the text and the mental content of who has formulated it (his nomiotic configurations). This process applied,for example, to a literature, philosophical or religious text intends to analyze the relation between text and interpretation by using linguistic and semiotic tools in order to reveal the relationships between text and interpretation; at the same time this process gives an answer to the question: which is the true thought of the author that has expressed himself in a text? Although the notion of interpretation seems opposite to that of truth, that usually is not considered for the reading of texts, in effect any interpretation of a text involves the notion of truth particularly in the case of revealing process but also in the appositive one. The notion of truth in this case is considered as correspondence, on one side, between text and interpretation and on the other between the text and the thought of who has formulated it; the correspondence assumes different weight in the two processes revealing and appositive.

If we do not consider all the complex aspects of hermeneutic processes, then we can state that they are devoted to the two goals we have underlined: the relation between text and its interpretation and between text and its author, or better the mind of the author. This is evident in the case in which in the interpretative process is directly involved the author of the text which can confirm or not the result of the process. Also when the author is not involved at least directly, as in the cases in which the author is dead or even in that of the Supreme Being, the interpretation, although in different ways, refers to ‘what has been in the mind’ of the author and which has been transposed in the text.

This process which is typical of hermeneutics is analogous to the interpretation of a text within an inter-mental dialogue which activates the operations we have above outlined.

Before continuing to analyze the operations b) and c) within inter-mental relationships, it is useful underline that in this case the primary goal is the comprehension of other minds and this means to formulate interpretative hypotheses useful to point out a correspondence relation between signs of another mind and its states and contents not only to understand it but to establish relations with it and in many cases to influence it and often the hermeneutic processes are of the appositive form.

b) Assignment of sense to other’s expressions

The first operation has been called ‘assignment of meanings to each single signs and their interconnections’. We have already analyzed this operation and at this point we are only interested to state that the interpretation starts, although in an unaware way, with the assignment of meanings to the signs of other minds: to single signs and to sequences of signs such as propositions and chain of propositions. This process is activated in two ways: 1) the regimented or standard one uses meanings accepted by the users of a language and 2) the idiosyncratic way in which it is used a language specific of the minds which are involved, i.e. the meanings of the mind that formulates meanings of the signs of another mind; these last usually are the regimented ones used by the subjects involved or they are slightly different from them; in other cases instead signs could be very different from the standard ones as it happens in many subjects and particularly those affected by mental pathologies such as neurosis or psychosis.

Although this process is very complex is activated within the usual interpersonal communications and in many mental activities related to the reading of texts of different kinds, particularly those of literature and philosophy.

The second operation is also typical of hermeneutic processes which, differently from the semiotic ones, do not restrict their action to the determination of meanings of a text but they take into consideration that we call sense of a text. The sense of a text, theoretically, could not be reducible to the semiotic meanings of signs and their semantic and pragmatic correlations (included the contextual ones). In which way it is possible to speak of ‘sense’ and ‘textual sense’ relatively to expressive texts of another mind?

Such a sense is semantically and pragmatically intrinsic to the text (inherent property) or, instead, is a oversegnic or anainherent property?

This topic from a philosophical point of view is related to the ‘sense of something’ and in the case we are dealing is considered as a oversegnic property for it does not belong strictly to signs but to the modalities and contexts in which signs are used and uttered. Researches in pragmatic linguistic outline that the pragmatic effects, that is the effects that signs have on the receivers (but also on the transmitters) is not a semiotic attribute of signs but of their utterance and of the utterance context. Let us think, for example, to the proposition ‘I hate you’ that can assume different significant tunes according the contexts in which it is uttered. We can think, too, in an allusive way to the ‘the meaning or sense of life’ which is non referred to specific aspects of an individual life but is an over-property which is possessed by the whole of the aspects of this life.

This conception of the sense of a text is not the only one for texts of other minds possess an intrinsic property which is inherent to the text; in other words, this property derives from an explicit or implicit correlation amongst the semiosis of different signs and the semiosis of their correlations; the same texts carry with them and indicate their sense. In the case of mental texts and texts of other minds, with whom are established hermeneutic relationships in order to formulate interpretative hypotheses, are present both properties: inherent or signic and the anainherent or oversegnic ones.

Nevertheless up to now we have not clarified in which way the sense is different from the meaning or from a correlations of different meanings. If sense is a signic inherent property then it derives from a semiotic inference from the meanings of signs and of the correlations amongst them; as it happens, for example, for the inherent sense of a proposition which derives from the meanings of subject, verb and predicate; the same it happens in more complex logical processes such as argumentations or deductive or inductive inferences. In these cases the inherent sense is a syntactic and semantic property relatively to single terms and their syntactical and semantic correlations. It could be stated that inherent sense could be subject to mere semiotic computations even of an artificial apparatus. This sense, although could be considered as merely computable, is not reducible to the meanings of the single signs and their correlations, for it involves the semiosis of the entire text considered as a whole, although this consideration is done in a computational way derives from an elaboration of a superior level of all the semiosis involved: those of individual signs and their correlations; a superior level computation or meta-computation on respect to those which identify meanings of signs and of their correlations. Although this sense could be considered not relevant for its computational character, it is an important aspect of the interpretation of other minds and the sense of their expressions. This sense very often can be the only one within the interpretative process, and this can give rise to suitable results useful to formulate interpretative hypotheses. The second way to understand the notion of sense, the anainherent or oversegnic, can allow us to understand in a better way the sense and to differentiate it from the semiosis of signs (the inherent sense). The second way to assign sense to a text or to a sequence of texts uttered by other minds points out that the sense does not derive only from the semiosis of signs (their semantic meanings) but froma larger and deeper consideration of the text which involves various mental factors of a mind M1 which assigns a sense to a texts uttered by a mind M2 (the verb utter is used to indicate any kind of expression of a mind and not only the linguistic one).

The ana-inherent sense of a text uttered by M2 does not involve only the semiosis of signs but refers to the relative nomiosis and it is considered as the relevance that M1 assigns to it within a context of utterance and in a larger way of the mental relation between M1 and M2. The term relevance is used to indicate that for a mind M1 the text uttered by M2 is considered as an informative and important content useful to read the mind of M2 within a specific context and an inter-mental relation.

This relevance derives, onone side, from the correlations with other texts, signs and semiosis related or correlable with the text uttered by M2, with the semiosis of signs and their correlations within the text; on the other, from the semiotic collocation of the text in a double mental horizon: a) that of M1 in relation with M2, and b) that in which M1 collocates the mind of M2 within the inter-mental relation. Thus, this way to understand the sense of a text can be called perspective sense; it is the result of a meta-mental process which workson the text and on its semiosis and furthermore on the other frame’s factors which intervene in the reading of other minds; hence the anainherent sense is not reduced to the semiosis of the text, but amplifies itself to nomiotic aspects of M1 and M2, that is, their noetic processes, mental states and contents.

The meta-mental process of assigning to a text an anainherent or perspective sense works on different levels; in the first one the process operates on signs, correlations and semiosis while the others place the results of the first level in larger nomiotic horizon in which the text can assume a different semiosis. The nomiotic horizon is the nomiotic mental context in which is included the text that has been received: it is a nomiotic-perspective horizon for it correlates the text to others and to other contents of the mind M1 which are relative to the mind M2. Hence, in the perspective nomiotic horizon there are many mental contents which are correlated one to another and so generate an interpretation of the text and of its anainherent sense. The horizon could be already preserved in mind and can be reactivated in different conditions in the mind M1 as regards to M2, but often it is formed on the basis of the information of the text; in other words, the presence of the text activates the perspective horizon of M1 referred to the mind M2; nevertheless, at the same time, the horizon is amplified or even modified on the basis of the reception of the text of M2.

According to what has been previously claimed, the sense of a text in the inherent and anainherent ways allows a reading of the texts of M2 and so of it; a reading that does not overcome but includes the strict semiosis of signs. Thus the interpretative process is not computable or at least is not reductively computable for it involves also nomiotic aspects; this character is reinforced because the interpretative perspective horizon (based on sense), although preserved in the mind M1, modify itself, or can be modified, within a specific inter-mental context so can generate different interpretations of the same text in different conditions although is activated the same mental horizon relative to M2.


c) Correlations amongst signs and mental states and contents

Similarly to meta-mental processes referred to the knowledge of own mind on respect to the knowledge of other minds, as it has been already noticed, the correlations between expressions of other minds and their nomiotic configurations is fundamental: their mental states, processes and contents. The greatest part of the knowledge of M1 of the mind M2, on the ground of reception and interpretation of the signs of M2, correlates them with states and contents of mind M2. In this correlation are involved the following factors. The first one is the assignment of meanings and interpretations that M1 formulates relatively to the signs of M2 according to the modalities that we have previously outlined; the second one is grounded on the knowledge that M1 has of M2: the knowledge of some contents of the mind of M2. The third factor is based on the analogy for which a sign of M1 corresponds to one of its nomiotic configurations and in the same way a similar sign of M2 corresponds to a mental configuration of M2 analogue to that of M1 relative to a similar sign. Anytime M1 reads the mind M2 intends to correlate the signs of M2 to its states, processes and contents and so he can understand not only the meanings of such signs but also states and contents and he establishes a relation with them in order to read M2 and so establish a dialogue with it. The signs works in the mind M1 in order to formulate hypotheses on states, processes and contents of M2 and this mean to activate in it a certain kind of simulation of these states, processes and contents of M2.

Hence, the relationships between M1 and M2 are semiotic relationships which become nomiotic relationships: in other words, relationships between mental states and contents of M1 and states and contents of M2. Indeed are these states and contents that dialogue through semiotic relationships amongst signs and so are the minds M1 and M2 which dialogue directly and not the signs that express them. Nevertheless, M1 and M2 can dialogue only through their signic expressions which, very often, particularly using natural languages, although they are necessary for the dialogue, generate many difficulties; on one side, because of their semantic plurivocality and on the other for a plurivocality of correlations between states, processes and contents of our own mind and those of other minds.

For this a reason, beside the hermeneutic processes that we have previously outlined, it is necessary a more complex hermeneutic process, that we can call sign/nosema correlation process, and this means correlation between signs and mental meanings. This process is hermeneutic for, although the correlation can be grounded on the analogy between the own mind and other minds and on a supposed shared correspondence between signs and nosemas; each time M1 activates an interpretation of signs and some correlations thus these correlations too can possess a pre-determined component and one which is formed during the process which could be different from the pre-determined ones; in other words, that component which derives from previous interpretations, semiotic assignments to the signs and to correlations among them with their relatives nosemas.

B2) Inferential processes, generalizations, noetic applications, extracognitive inferences, resonance and telenoesi


Reading and knowledge of other minds are not formulated only through a direct reception of the signic expressions (bodily, linguistic, etc.), but also through different idetic (not perceptive) processes although some of them can be based on perceptive information; reading and knowledge of other minds are formed with an interlacing between perceptive and idetic information and their elaboration.

Amongst these idetic tools first of all there are the inferences and the generalizations. Inferences are mental (noetic)processes which can be activated in two ways: in the first way an inferential process develops starting form perceptive information from which it is possible to infer information on other minds and behaviors. For example, the reception of a text or a behavior can bring to formulate inferences on mental states and contents of other minds which are not referred merely to the meaning of signs but to many other nomiotic aspects of other minds. In such case inferences, differently from a mere meanings of signs, can bring to the formulation of hypotheses on the thought of others not only referred to the signs received but to the mental contents related to them. For example, the reception of a proposition such as ‘men are bad’ can induce the receiving mind to infer that this attribute is referred also to itself; furthermore, if the adjective ‘bad’ is considered by M1 as formed by many attributes, then M1 can infer that M2, which has uttered this proposition, holds that these attributes are referred to every man. As it is well known, inferences can be much more complex and generate an inferential sequence formed by inferences which are not directly derived from an initial inference. In other words, this inferential sequence can be relative to many other mental contents of M2 although they are not expressed or they are not in a specific condition. The inferences can assume the usual forms, such as deductive, inductive, abductive or argumentative although they could not have a logic correctness.

Other inferences do not refer directly to information’s receptions but to mental contents assigned to other minds or typical of a mind that dialogues with another. These inferences do not start from perceptive information but from two processes referred to own mind or to other minds. We call these inferences idetic inferences in order to underline that they are not grounded on perceptions of the expressions of other minds although they can involve them.

These idetic inferences, referred to other minds, can be derived, for example, from personal conceptions, ideologies or prejudices which play the role of noetic parameters to read other minds and to assign to them states, processes and contents beyond the information that has been received. Instead, in the case in which this information is involved it could be interpreted in specific ways according to personal conceptions, ideologies or prejudices.

The knowledge of other minds, differently from what it happens in the ordinary knowledge relatively to the phenomenic entities, has a lower degree of reliability with reference to the semiosis of signs, the hermeneutic processes and the correlations signs/nosemas (signs and mental states, processes and contents). This does not mean that M1 cannot have a knowledge of M2 and indeed it does, but in this knowledge are involved all the processes that we have outlined, included the inferences we are dealing with, thus it possesses a low degree of reliability particularly relatively to the correlation formulated by M1 between expressions of M2 and mental states, processes and contents of M2.

Thus, the knowledge of the mind M2 by M1 often is the projection of mental contents of M1 considered as contents of M2; in this case are clearly assigned to M2 in the appositive way contents that it could not possess; for such a reason there is a low reliability of the knowledge of M2 by M1. Nevertheless, although epistemologically the knowledge of other minds is biased by different factors that intervene in its formulation generating a low reliability, this condition is only analytic for in usual reciprocal readings of other minds and so in mental dialogue, it is not necessary a high degree of reliability which usually there is not; indeed it is sufficient a low degree of reliability although it causes to misunderstandings and wrong readings of other minds. Within the usual inter-mental dialogues the subjects involved (at least in the majority of cases) they do not care of theoretic reliability of their readings but they are interested in reading other minds in order to fulfill their needs and motivations; the reading criteria are not epistemological but self-oriented; hence they are useful not to properly and correctly understand another mind but to hold or believe to understand it on the ground of self-criteria grounded on interests, motivations, goals, etc.; obviously, there are exceptions to this interpersonal dynamics such as the cases of argumentative dialogue amongst scientists. So, generally, it is more relevant the adequacy criterion rather than the reliability that allows to accept a certain reading of other minds with reference to the goals that are intended to reach in an inter-mental relation.

Thus, the two kinds of inferences, and particularly the second one, are guided by mental contents, states and processes of who intends to know other minds; this inferential knowledge, therefore, is not a knowledge devoted only to a gnoseological goal, but a relational one in which could not have any relevance the gnoseological reliability of other minds but holds the adequacy criterion.

Generalizations and idetic applications have a similar nature generating knowledge of other minds. Generalizations are formulated on perceptions or on inferences relative to a certain numbers of subjects and to their characters and they are applied, as it happens for any kind of generalization, to new instances; thus, they are a useful tool in order to assign different attributes to many subjects. In the case we are analyzing there are generalization related to other minds which are used, awarenessly or not, in order to formulate knowledge of other minds; nevertheless, the application of these generalizations do not bring directly to formulate reliable knowledge for they could not be applicable to every subjects and, particularly, to a specific one or because they are not correct generalizations formulated on the basis of a large numbers of instances, but only on few cases ,as usually it happens ,in the ordinary thinking; or because they are applied in an appositive way in order to assign mental attributes to other minds without having a suitable perceptive or inferential support. Nevertheless, although with these restrictions, the generalizations formulated on other minds can play a gnoseological role related to a specific mind and can be considered as cognitive tools to know other minds.

These observations are also referred to those that we have called idetic applications. Idetic applications are grounded on concepts or conceptions formulated by a specific mind or derived from common sense (common sense is considered as the frame of concepts, notions and conceptions formulated by a social group and shared by those who belong to it); concepts, notions and conceptions are derived from idetic processes that do not involve, at least directly, perceptive processes. Their applications as tool of knowing other minds develop in an analogue way of the generalizations; hence, with the same modalities and restrictions that have been outlined.

Idetic applications, however, do not concern only mental contents but processes too, thus they can be used to assign to other minds processual modalities that could generate specific mental states and contents. For example, S1 could hold that the mind of S2 could operates in a specific modality which is similar to that of an accepted prototype of mental operations and so S1 can expect that S2 thinks in certain way.

Also in this case it is necessary to outline that although there are restrictions in many cases stronger than those of generalizations, idetic applications, for contents and process modalities, if applied to other minds can be considered as useful tool for knowing other minds.

To conclude the topic of this section we indicate other processes useful to know other minds: extracognitive inferences, resonance and telenoesis.

In the preceding part have been analyzed the inferential processes which allow a mind M1 to formulate gnoseological hypotheses on a mind M2 with reference to its expressions or relative to idetic processes related to it. In both cases the mind M1 works on cognitive data but the inferences could be grounded also on extra-cognitive contents, that is on contents that cannot be cognitively formulated. The greatest part of these processes works in unaware way and at the same time their results are not expressible, or they are not completely in a specific semioticform as it happens for the other processes that have been analyzed.

At this point it is fundamental to underline that in the greatest number of cases the reading of other minds is formulated by unaware processes or at least processes that during their development are only partially aware. Nevertheless the results of these processes, although not always, could be aware and so semiotically expressed also in the form of specific proposition or chain of propositions. The transformation of the results of the reading processes of other minds into specific expressive semiotic forms is a fundamental factor of the usual inter-mental dialogue which proceeds with repeated reciprocal readings and so on a semiotic circularity: the exchange of messages which is the fundamental character of inter-mental dialogue.

Nevertheless, as it is well known, the inter-mental dialogue does not always work within an expressed semiotic level but on a not expressed semiotic one. This unexpressed semiotic level is formed by nomiotic processes that do not belong to the usual cognitivity, formed by cognitive processes such as reasoning, argumentation, inferences and idetic applications. The extra-cognitive cognitivity in the language of the ordinary and common sense thinking is considered in various ways adopting terms such as ‘intuition’, ‘interpenetration’, ‘grasping’, etc.; generally, it is referred to processes that up to now are not defined by scientific researches and do not belong to the usual noetic processes that can be transformed in semiotic expressions: sign’s expressions, propositions, behaviors, etc. Nevertheless, this does not mean to state that they are not neurophysiological and nomiotic processes indeed they are although different from others and up today not understandable or not explicable.

In these cases are not understandable not only the processes but also the reception messages of others and these messages are received in an unaware way and so the subject is not able to indicate them as factors of unaware processes. Nevertheless, this does not happens in all cases since in some of them the introspection could bring to awareness not the unaware processes but some of their results.

These processes, that we called extracognitive processes, they could, as often it happens, develop through extracognitive inferences; hence, these are such not only because are grounded on extra-cognitive (or not cognitive) information but because they could be the result of not standard information bonds such as those we have dealt previously. Obviously, we use the term extra-cognitive for the only reason that today the term cognitive is used to refer uniquely to specific noetic processes, that is, those investigated by cognitive psychology; we could use the term cognitive wideningits semantic reference, but using the actual meaning we prefer distinguish the extra-cognitive processes from the cognitive ones. In any cases, extra-cognitive processes are different from cognitive ones not only for the information processed but for their operational modalities. On one side there are the usual inferences that could be formulated relating to other minds such as those already indicated (generalizations, idetic applications, etc.) and furthermore to deductions, inductions, abductions; on the other side, processes and inferences that are grounded on ‘intuitive’ or ‘interpenetration’ contents which they connect each other with various bonds different from those amongst concepts and on them could be activated not standard inferences, that is, extra-cognitive inferences. This kind of inferences are those not grounded on cognitive bonds (as the bonds amongst concepts in a deductive reasoning) and are not reducible to deductive, abductive or inductive reasoning, or to argumentations, generalizations and idetic applications.

In this case we refer to extra-cognitive contents such as those of intuition or interpenetration relative to other minds. In other words, we state that intuition or interpenetration are processes that allow to catch at first glance a mental state, process or content of another mind or even to predictit. These are complex processes in which at the same time are involved many mental contents and information received in aware and unaware way thus the subject does not awarely receive all of them but his mind receives and uses them to formulate, for example, intuitions on other minds. These are noetic processes although different from all the others. These processes and their inferences elaborate a large number of information such as that preserved in memory referred to own and other minds.

We have claimed that extra-cognitive inferences are formulated by the mind, in aware and unaware ways, and correlate mental contents in ways different from those of argumentations and logical or conceptual inferences.

Which kind of bonds are the extra-cognitive ones? Let’s think, for example, to the way in which are correlated intuition’s contents and how from these contents inferences could be formulated. Let’s consider the case of a mind M1 that holds that it has known by intuition (or it has realized by interpenetration) that a mind M2 is in a specific mental state, or possesses a specific content although M1 does not have aware information to elaborate; in this case there would be possible two conditions: in the first one M1 in an unaware mode has elaborated expressions of M2 although M2 does not have intentionally formulated them. In the second these expressions are not given to M1 or it is not able to receive them for it doesn’t have any physical contact with M2; for example he is in place different from that of M2 and cannot receive any information from M2. The second condition introduce the so called resonance and telenoesis which will be further on analyzed, instead in the first the expressions of M2 are receivable by M1 although in a unaware mode and they are useful information to formulate extra-cognitive hypotheses on M2. A third condition is that in which in the mind M1 are activated information on M2 stored in its memory. In the first and in the third condition the intuitive utterances could be reduced to the other forms of inferences, nevertheless in them are not elaborated cognitive contents but extracognitive ones which as such are not expressible in a cognitive way; this is the case of extracognitive inferences. Intuitions on other minds can be considered as the result of complex (and sometime random) correlations amongst accessible information or preserved in memory that generate a new content or information that is not reducible to contents correlated: a new content that emerges from the correlation’s processes. When it is claimed that we have realized by intuition or interpenetration something of another mind we refer to such result, elaborated in an unaware mode and afterwards awarenessly uttered, in which many informational contents have been combined and arranged generating an interpretative hypotheses of other minds. These correlative combinations and arrangements could be also inferences or they can generate inferences considered as mental contents derived from informational contents correlated in different and various ways. The processes we are analyzing appear ‘obscure’ and indeed they are such but only because up to now we do not have suitable scientific knowledge to understand and to explain these kind of extra-cognitive inferences.

The observations presented and the second and third conditions can allow us to introduce the other two tools to know other mind: resonance and telenoesis which are tools even more ‘obscure’ of the extra-cognitive ones.

The resonance has been defined by some researchers, such as R.Sheldrake , as referred to those conditions in which different subjects reciprocally influence themselves in the way of mentally operating unisonally or even as a unique entity. In mental terms, the resonance is that condition in which two minds (or more than two) influence, (or they have influenced) themselves reciprocally in such a way to activate analogous mental states or formulate analogous mental configurations particularly in specific conditions or on respect to determinate stimuli. In such case, the reading of other minds is grounded on such resonance which is related to the notion of semiotic/nomiotic sharing that has been previously analyzed. The difficulty of the notion of mental resonance stays on the fact that it can be claimed that is grounded on a direct reading of other minds, that is, in the momentin which are formulated mental states and contents and at the same time without a specific reference to the reading of expressions of other minds; that is, a mind could be able to read another one with processes that enter directly in it.

This consideration is not acceptable at least because we do not have results and tools which allow us to support it. Nevertheless, if we do not accept this consideration and at the same time we do not claim that there could be a direct knowledge of other minds (in the instant in which are present states and contents of other minds) then we can accept the resonance that in this case is referable to the sharing of states, processes and contents and of modalities of operating of the minds involved in the phenomenon of resonance. Indeed, a condition commonlyspread within those we can call plurimental groups; a plurimental group is a group of minds that share analogous or similar mental states, contents and operational modalities and so they are involved in mental resonance processes; plurimental groups are the result of inter-mental relationships. These groups could be small as a man/woman couple, two or more friends or large and very large ones such as social groups or even social cultures in which there are very complex and dynamics inter-mental relationships.

Thus the notion of mental resonance is acceptable and legitimated but it is not the result of ‘extra psychical’ phenomena, but of the sharing processes, aware or not, that lead the minds belonging to a plurimental group to be syntonized by resonance and so they reciprocally can read themselves.

These observations allow us to claim not only the presence but the relevance of the mental resonance: the mental resonance is that condition in which two minds influence or they have reciprocally influenced themselves in such a way that there could be activated analogous or similar mental states and to formulate analogous mental configurations particularly in specific conditions or in respect to determinate stimuli or conditions.

The mental resonance is a useful tool for reading other minds; this reading could be facilitated by resonance that allow to grasp and to know, by intuition or interpretation, states and contents of other minds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very often in the ordinary language we refer to this phenomenon with expression such as ‘to be in tuning’ or in ‘mental tuning’ with some subject and on the ground of what has been previously claimed (plurimental group) it means that there is a strong mental sharing that allows or facilitates the reciprocal readings amongst different minds.

From the notion of mental resonance it is possible to pass to analyze the topic of telenoesis that does not have anything to do with telepathy although Sheldrake claims that resonance is strictly related to telepathy. Of course if resonance is not considered as mental sharing and it is confused with the parapsychological notion of telepathy considered as a direct reading of other minds and indeed a reciprocal influence through not psychical processes, then we can analyzea real transmission of thought from one mind to another. We prefer to use the word telenoesis or tele-cognition in order to avoid that this relevant processes could be discreditedfor are considered as part of telepathy as an extra-sensorial process or even a paranormal one.

It is possible to notice that within inter-mental relationships and, particularly, within the inter-mental dialogue there are processes of telenoesis that is considered as mode of reading other minds; that is, a reading of other minds without receiving any expression ofthem.  The processes of telenoesis, as the other ones that we have previously outlined, are the result of almost simultaneouselaborations of a large number of information preserved in neural nets. Telenoesis, considered as a tool to read other minds, indeed is reducible to the usual mental processes in which many information are correlated one to the other and are subject to various elaborations before forming a specific mental content that in this case results in a cognitive hypothesis of other minds.

A mind M1 can hold to know at a certain degree the mind M2 by telenoesis and this means that M1 elaborates all the information that it possesses on M2; at the same time it activates other mental operations, for example generalizations, and it appliesthem to the mind M2 in order to obtain cognitive results on M2, although M2 is not physically accessible or reachable. Thus, it is not involved any thinking transmission from M2 to M1 but it is only that M1 formulates cognitive hypothesis on M2.

Hence, telenoesis is a useful reading tool of other minds, but could also be considered as a true transmission of mental contents from one mind to another but this process happens by the transmission of mental expressions of M2 that M1 is able to receive, read and interpret in a not aware mode; therefore M1 can hold that it has read in a telenoetic mode M2.

Nevertheless, although we can use the notion of telenoesis this term must be referred to many of the reading processes that we have previously outlined. These processes, in the largestpart of cases, are grounded on a polysignic reception of other minds; in other words M1 receives, awarenessly or not, from M2 signs of different kind (linguistic, bodily, etc.) and elaborates them correlating them in different ways and so he can formulate different cognitive hypotheses on M2.





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