Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Around Simulation II - Simulating Empathy and Subjective Experience

Dear Simon,

thank you for your post, I quote part of it because I think it perfectly fits inside the limits of the simulation processes and the un-simulatable.

About the simulation of empathy, raised from Jennifer, maybe we reach the limits of the simulation issue too. I would emphasize the fact that maybe empathy may not be only - or at all - a mind affair.

The discovery of the mirror neurons put a new way to watch to empathy, and in general to some formerly mind related issues. In this respect Vittorio Gallese, one of the members of the group of Giacomo Rizzolatti, who discovered the mirror neurons system, speaks about "embodied simulation" as the ability to "provide the means to share communicative intentions, meaning and reference, thus granting the parity requirements of social communication".

"The automatic translation of folk psychology into newly formed brain modules specifically dedicated to mind-reading and other social cognitive abilities should be carefully scrutinized. Searching for the brain location of intentions, beliefs and desires—as such—might not be the best epistemic strategy to disclose what social cognition really is. The results of neurocognitive research suggest that in the brain of primates, mirror neurons, and more generally the premotor system, play a major role in several aspects of social cognition, from action and intention understanding to language processing. This evidence is presented and discussed within the theoretical frame of an embodied simulation account of social cognition. Embodied simulation and the mirror neuron system underpinning it provide the means to share communicative intentions, meaning and reference, thus granting the parity requirements of social communication."

This is the paper:


Pier Luigi

Il giorno 24/gen/2011, alle ore 10.47, Simon Biggs ha scritto:

> I would propose that our understanding of ourselves, of the world around us,
> remains very limited. As a consequence of our limited knowledge I would
> argue that to date most things remain beyond our capacity to simulate them.
> To claim we do have the capacity to simulate things is to assume we have
> knowledge of them we most likely do not possess. This would seem arrogant in
> the extreme. Further to this, a simulation is only a knowledge modelling
> activity. Even where we do have enough information about something to build
> what seems to be a useful and functional simulation it does not mean we have
> made an accurate copy of something. It is only as accurate as we are able to
> test its accuracy and that testing is constrained by what we know. Even the
> best simulations are likely to be incomplete or even erroneous in their
> conception. To assume otherwise is to consider oneself to have complete and
> irrefutable knowledge of something. That does not seem like good (sceptical)
> science or philosophy. It starts to sound like arrogant dogma.

Pier Luigi Capucci
skype: plcapucci

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