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A second-person neuroscience in interaction1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2013

Leonhard Schilbach
Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne, 50924 Cologne, Germany.
Bert Timmermans
School of Psychology, King's College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3FX, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Vasudevi Reddy
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2DY, United Kingdom.
Alan Costall
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2DY, United Kingdom.
Gary Bente
Department of Psychology, Social Psychology II – Communication and Media Psychology, University of Cologne, 50931 Cologne, Germany.
Tobias Schlicht
Institute of Philosophy, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany.
Kai Vogeley
Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne, 50924 Cologne, Germany. Institute of Neuroscience & Medicine, Cognitive Neuroscience (INM–3), Research Center Juelich, 52428 Juelich, Germany.


In this response we address additions to as well as criticisms and possible misinterpretations of our proposal for a second-person neuroscience. We map out the most crucial aspects of our approach by (1) acknowledging that second-person engaged interaction is not the only way to understand others, although we claim that it is ontogenetically prior; (2) claiming that spectatorial paradigms need to be complemented in order to enable a full understanding of social interactions; and (3) restating that our theoretical proposal not only questions the mechanism by which a cognitive process comes into being, but asks whether it is at all meaningful to speak of a mechanism and a cognitive process when it is confined to intra-agent space. We address theoretical criticisms of our approach by pointing out that while a second-person social understanding may not be the only mechanism, alternative approaches cannot hold their ground without resorting to second-person concepts, if not in the expression, certainly in the development of social understanding. In this context, we also address issues of agency and intentionality, theoretical alternatives, and clinical implications of our approach.

Authors' Response
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Authors Leonhard Schilbach and Bert Timmermans have contributed equally to this Response article.


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