Mindreading and false belief. Theory of Mind in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus"

Master's Thesis, 2015

107 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Theories and Ontogenesis ofTheory of Mind

3. Theory of Mind prerequisites in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
3.1 Self – awareness of Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster
3.2 Language ability of the Monster
3.3 Executive functioning

4. Theory of Mind: Mindreading and (false) Belief in Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
4.1 Mindreading and False Belief of the Monster and Frankenstein
4.2 Dr. Frankenstein and Deception
4.3 Other humans and ToM

5. Empathy (and Love) in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

6. ToM and Descriptions of Nature in Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

7. Conclusion

8. Works Cited

9. Appendix


1. Introduction

Every reader who has spent some time with an infant has experienced the following scenario at least once: you are playing hide-and-seek with the child and, out of the blue, the child covers her eyes with her hands, believing to have found the most amazing hiding place. For the child, it is clear: he or she cannot see the adult, thus, the adult cannot see him/ her. In fact, the child is probably sitting in the middle of the room, without any object covering him/ her (except for the hands), and with the adult standing right in front of the child. This example is the perfect introduction to the topic of the present master thesis. The child is not yet able to understand that the adult is capable of seeing, believing or knowing something other than that which the child can. Or, in other words, the child does not understand that the adult has another mental state than its own. Thus, the child does not have a Theory of Mind, yet.

This master thesis deals with instances of Theory of Mind (such as the reading of minds, prediction of future actions, false and true beliefs) in Mary Shelley's famous workFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus(1818).[1]The termTheory of mind(abbreviated asToM) was introduced in 1978 by psychologists David Premack and Guy Woodruff in their famous paper “Does the Chimpanzee have a Theory of Mind?” (cf. 515ff.).[2]ToM denotes t lity of an individual to have a certain self-awareness, that is to be aware of one's own mental state, one's own beliefs (also false beliefs) but furthermore, the individual has to be able to attribute a mental state not only to themselves but to another individual as well (cf. Wellman 7f.; cf. Call and Tomasello 187; cf. Schlinger 435; cf. Premack and Woodruff 515). Given these conditions, the literature would suggest that this personhasa Theory of Mind (cf. Premack and Woodruff 515). I will discuss Theory of Mind in more detail in the second chapter. BesidesTheory of Mind, there are also other terms that can be found in the literature, such asfolk psychology, mindreading,mentalizingor evensocial cognition(cf. Pagan 5f.).[3]

In the last decades, the literature and study on ToM have increased considerably[4], as ToM is regarded as an (almost) uniquely human feature which is part of our daily social interactions and communication (cf. Apperly 1; cf. Pridmore 2; cf. Santos et al. 2, 6ff, 25; cf. Byrnit 1).[5]The vast majority of research focuses on 3-5 year-old children and not so much on younger children or adults (cf. Apperly 2). Research often tries to examine “whenchildren are able to reason about mental states such as beliefs, desires and intentions and what factors affect this development” (Apperly 2).[6]“Many researchers hold that the development of mindreading consists of acquiring abstract mental state concepts, and that these concepts constitute a “theory” about how the mind works” (more onTheory-Theoryand other approaches to ToM in chapter 2 and footnote 5; Apperly 2). This is the reason whyTheory of Mindbecame the most often used term in academic literature (cf. Apperly 2). Moreover, many studies focus on what happens when ToM is not functioning (as it should), i.e. when individuals have impaired mindreading abilities which are, for instance, related to disorders like Autism and Schizophrenia (cf. Apperly 1).[7]In case of a “normally” developing child of a certain age, the use of this “theory” would help the individual to interpret the behaviour of others and to attribute this behaviour to specific, underlying mental states (cf. Leudar and Costall 1f.). The connection between Theory of Mind and literature is a more recent development. In Lisa Zunshine'sWhy we read fiction(2006), she focuses on the reader's mindreading during his/her reading process and explains that not every reader is able to understand that the characters' behaviour is caused by underlying mental states (cf. 4). Lisa Zunshine suggests that fiction challenges the reader's mindreading capacity in a positive and engaging way because the reader has to keep track of who said what, when and with what intention (cf. 2006: 4f.). This is referred to asmetarepresentationalitybecause the reader has to metarepresent the relationship of all the characters and who said what and why. Furthermore, Zunshine argues that ToM is what makes literature as we know it possible, as readers know characters' behaviour to be based on their fictional underlying mental state, and therefore understand it (cf. 2006: 5). Nevertheless, some literary scholars might fear that this cognitive approach “invalidates” the insights more traditional approaches have shown. According to Zunshine, this doubt is misplaced because “[she] think[s] that it is a sign ofstrengthin a cognitive approach when it turns out to be highly compatible with well-thought-through literary criticism” (2006: 5).[8]I will focus on Zunshine's remarks more extensively in the course of this master thesis. Pagan also worked onFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheusin combination with Theory of Mind in hisTheory of Mind and Science Fiction(2014). Pagan claims that Dr. Frankenstein has a rather poorly developed ToM and that his ToM abilities are mirrored by others in the course of the novel (cf. 30). “Victor has a particularly ineffective theory of mind, particularly with regard to the creature to whom he insists on attributing negative characteristics right from his inception” (Pagan 35). I will focus on Frankenstein's and the monster's mindreading abilities in chapter 4. Moreover, Pagan argues that the monster is possibly a more skilful mindreader than Frankenstein because the monster is able to recognize changes in Frankenstein's attitude after the monster has expressed his wish for another creature (cf. 30). In terms of empathy, Pagan considers the monster more empathic and moral than Dr. Frankenstein (cf. 32). “In its highlighting of theory of mind and empathy and possible links to morality, Mary Shelley's masterpiece points to one of the great strengths of science fiction – its creation of manmade outsiders […] to help explain us to ourselves” (Pagan 32). After my analysis, I will discuss to what extent it is possible to agree with Pagan.

The aim of my master thesis is not to add to the discussion of whether ToM is a useful tool for psychology neither if the tests/tasks are useful nor in which way they have to/ may be improved.[9]Instead, I will use Theory of Mind and its prerequisites as tools for literary analysis and focus on questions like whether the protagonists (Dr. Frankenstein and his creation) possess a Theory of Mind and if so, how the text shows their mindreading performances. How well does the intelligent Dr. Frankenstein read minds; especially the monster's mind? Are they both aware of their own false beliefs? I will analyse mindreading instances and (false) beliefs in Mary Shelley's work in detail and try to find out if there is a development in the way the monster perceives himself and others during his lifetime.[10]Furthermore, I will discuss the adequacy of ToM as a means for literary analysis. Chapter 2 will focus on the theories related to Theory of Mind and on the brain/mind relation. In the 3rd chapter, I will discuss ToM prerequisites inFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheusin detail, starting with the question of whether the protagonists are aware of themselves and of their mental states. Furthermore, I will concentrate on what are seen as further factors of ToM: language ability and executive functioning. Following this, the mindreading skills and false beliefs of both protagonists will be discussed (chapter 4). Afterwards, I will analyze Robert Walton's (and other human's) mindreading abilities and focus briefly on the role of empathy in the novel. While analysing these aspects, I will discuss the possible benefit of ToM for literature in general and forFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheusin particular.

2. Theories and Ontogenesis of Theory of Mind

In this section, I will provide a brief overview of Theory of Mind in general and present the theories related to it. First of all, what is themind? Most researchers believe the mind to be somehow related/ connected to the brain. David Linden has described the layers in the brain as follows: the innermost layer is called the 'lizard' layer; followed by the 'mouse' layer, and finally, on top is the 'human' layer (cf. Pagan 2). The American neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean has named these parts of the “triune“ brain: reptilian, mammalian, and neo-mammalian. MacLean claims that “the human brain actually consists of a confluence of three brains derived from different periods of evolution: the reptilian, old mammalian (paleomammalian), and new mammalian (neomammalian)” (Pagan 2). The top layer of the brain “is the most sophisticated type of brain positioning itself above the others” and the layers “below are the less developed kinds of brain, [which] remain clearly visible and functional beneath” (Pagan 2f.). The 'reptilian' part of the brain is said to be the oldest and the most primitive kind of brain which possesses the most basic, “rudimentary cortex”, which is called the “cerebral cortex“ (cf. Pagan 2f.). This primitive part of the brain controls basic functions like breathing and heart rate and is also concerned with the survival instincts which reptiles, frogs and lizards possess, too (cf. Pagan 3). This cortex becomes more developed in the 'old mammalian brain' where it comes to be called 'a limbic cortex'“ (Pagan 2). The limbic cortex of the old mammalian brain is situated at the top of the brain stem, is related to emotion and “[to] the drives that humans share with animals in terms of self-preservation” (Pagan 2f.). MacLean talks about “the selfish demands of feeding, fighting, and self-protection” (12ff.) and that the old mammalian brain occupies “a Janus-like position between the reptilian and the new mammalian brains” (MacLean 21).

“The more complex 'neocortex' is able to make its appearance only in the neo- or 'new mammalian brain', which belongs to higher mammals and which achieves its apotheosis in human beings, who then become able to engage to varying degrees in 'reading, writing, and arithmetic'” (Pagan 2).

The species that possess a mammalian or neo-mammalian brain “have more memory than do reptiles, and they are also better able to predict hazardous situations” (Pagan 3). For higher levels of cognition the third layer, which human brains have, is necessary. Another distinct feature of the human brain is its size (cf. Pagan 3). For the first five years the human brain grows quickly,which leads to increases in the number of neurons (cf. Pagan 3).[11]

I will now briefly introduce the traditional philosophies of mind which can be divided into two categories:dualistandmaterialist theories(cf. Fodor 81). Philosophers who adhere to the dualist theory regard the mind as something nonphysical, whereas materialist theories suggest “the mental is not distinct from the physical; indeed all mental states, properties, processes and operations are in principle identical with physical states, properties, processes and operations” (Fodor 81). I will first consider the dualist theory. Descartes, among others, differentiates between what isinspaceand what isnot inspace(cf. Ryle 12). In space, there are “things” that can be touched like for instance the human body, the body of an animal and objects, which “are subject to the mechanical laws” (Ryle 12). Things that are in space can also be observed, which means that, for example, the movements and actions of a body like gestures and facial expressions can be observed and thus interpreted, whereas minds and how they work cannot be observed (cf. Ryle 12f.). In Descartes'Principles of Philosophy(1644) the mind and the body are seen as two completely different kinds of substance, which is indicated by the term “Substance Dualism” (cf. Eckert 1). For Descartes, the mind “is a different kind of substance marked by the activity of thinking” (Eckert 1).[12]When Descartes talks about the mind, he uses the term “soul”, which indicates that its location is inside the brain and explains that it works by means of sensory awareness (cf. Descartes 9).

“It is here alone that the soul not only understands and imagines but also has sensory awareness. Sensory awareness comes about by means of nerves, which stretch like threads from the brain to all the limbs, and are joined together in such a way that hardly any part of the human body can be touched without producing movement in several of the nerve-ends that are scattered around in the area” (Descartes 9).

This theory is criticised by Ryle because the basic distinction between “outer life of the body, and inner life of the mind” has to be seen as a metaphor (Ryle 13). He discusses the theoretical difficulties in the brain/mind “bifurcation” and explains it by stating “what the mind wills, the legs, arms and the tongue execute; what affects the ear and the eye has something to do with what the mind perceives; grimaces and smiles betray the mind's moods” (Ryle 13). This is an important aspect for this master thesis because while I am writing about “Mindreading”, people obviously cannot “look” into the mind of others, like in a book and actually “read” it. “The onlooker” observes behaviour, gestures, movement and facial expressions in order to interpret or think about what the other person might be doing next. This interpretation or “reading” can be true or false (cf. Ryle 15). Person A cannot “read”/see the mental state of person B with certainty, but person A can know his or her own mental state by self-observation and introspection (cf. Ryle 15). Ryle criticizes this official doctrine by stating that “a family of radical category-mistakes is the source of the double-life theory” (18). He adds that this theory leaves open how mind and body really interact and influence each other (cf. Ryle 19f.). Another critical aspect he mentions is that according to the double-life theory it would seem unlikely that “onlookers“ could ever read minds through means of only body language (cf. Ryle 20) because if the mind is something nonphysical why does it have an effect on physical space? In other words, how does/can the nonphysical mind lead to actual behaviour in physical space? (cf. Fodor 82). Another problem with dualism is that experimental methods of the physical sciences, as Fodor calls it, do lead to results, even related to the idea of the mind (cf. Fodor 82). “If mental processes were different in kind from physical processes, there would be no reason to expect these methods to work in the realm of the mental” (Fodor 82). Nevertheless, Rebecca Saxe found that different brain regions are activated for different aspects of ToM (cf. Pagan 15; cf. Saxe 1). In her studies she used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to measure “changes in cortical blood oxygenation” (Saxe 2). During her studies, she discovered that there was a specific set of brain regions that were activated in false belief tasks, such as, for instance, the “right and left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), medial parietal cortex (including posterior cingulate and precuneus), and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)” (Saxe 2). “The same brain regions have also been identified by converging methods, including both lesion and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies of Theory of Mind” (Saxe 2). Due to their participation in ToM, these brain regions are sometimes called the “ToM network” (Saxe 2; cf. Santos et al. 13).

Due to this criticism, somematerialists, also known asbehavioralists, thought of another theory which is based on the idea that certain stimuli lead to certain behavioral responses (cf. Fodor 81). John B. Watson of Johns Hopkins University put forward the idea that behaviour does not have mental causes, and Skinner believed behaviour to be only a result of stimuli (radical behaviourist view) (cf. Fodor 82f.). With this theory, we do not need to think about what the mind is or what its relation to the body would be, because there is no relation between mind and body. In the early 1960s, the critique of dualism and radical behaviourism led to the development of a materialist theory that was nonetheless based on mental causes:logical behaviourismandcentral-state identity theory(cf. Fodor 83). “Logical behaviorism is a semantic theory about what mental terms mean” (Fodor 83) which is also an aspect that is often criticised (cf. Fodor 85). This theory discusses “the mental” as the way in which different mental states cause behaviour because they interact with one another, thus leading to behaviour (cf. Fodor 85). Logical behaviorism is criticised because it is seen as “radical behaviorism in a semantic form” (Fodor 85).

Other materialists prefer theidentity theory,which means that “there are mental causes and that they are identical with neurophysiological events in the brain” (Fodor 81).[13]The central-state identity theory also explains that mental states can interact and then nevertheless lead to no behaviour. For example, Fodor describes, a person reflects and then decides not to do anything at all (cf. 86). Thus, mental states do not necessarily have to lead to observable behaviour and movements. Moreover, Fodor states that if mental processes are neurophysiological and thus possibly also physical ones, they also have the causal properties of neurophysiological or physical processes (cf. 86). “Central-state identity theory ensures that the concept of mental causation is as rich as the concept of physical causation” (Fodor 86).[14]

A more recent development has been the philosophy of mind calledfunctionalism“that is neither dualist nor materialist” (Fodor 82). Functionalism has become very popular because it combines the best features of materialist theories and is thus a good alternative to dualism (cf. Fodor 88). Mental states are defined in causal relation to other mental states and may be physical which is part of the aforementioned idea that mental causation is in a way similar to physical causation (cf. Fodor 88).[15]

“In other words, functionalism tolerates the materialist solution to the mind-body problem provided by the central-state identity theory. It is possible for the functionalist to assert both that mental properties are typically defined in terms of their relations and that interactions of mind and body are typically causal in however robust a motion of causality is required by psychological explanations” (Fodor 88).

No matter which theory seems to be the most plausible one, in our everyday life we generally attribute behaviour to beliefs, desires, intentions and knowledge, which is also something I am going to in this master thesis (cf. Fodor 83). After having introduced the main theories related to the mind and brain, I will now concentrate more specifically on ToM. ToM as a popular theory in cognitive science claims that our social understanding is used for instance in interactions and based on ‘mindreading’ (cf. Froese et al. 1377).

The first version of the “Theory of Mind” by Premack today referred to as 'TheoryTheory of Mind' (abbreviated asTTorTToM) and one of the earliest alternatives was 'Theory of Mind Mechanism' (often abbreviated asToMM) (cf. Leudar and Costall 2; cf. Miller 38; cf. Apperly 5, 176).[16]

“The fundamental idea of TT is that ordinary people accomplish mind-reading by acquiring and deploying a common-sense theory of mind, something akin to a scientific theory. Mental states attributed to other people are conceived of as unobservable, theoretical posits, invoked to explain and predict behavior in the same fashion that physicists appeal to electrons and quarks to predict and explain observable behavior” (Gallese and Goldman 496).

TT refers to the idea that mindreading includes objective reasoning about behaviour and this “detached” reasoning is based on causality (cf. Sodian 114f.). “The emotional states attributed to others are 'theoretical' […], [and] thought of as coldly methodological” (Pagan 8). According to this idea, children and adults use an abstract theory about the mind, which can change, in order to predict other people's actions (cf. Miller 38; cf. Apperly 177). Miller speaks of a “theory change” when the ToM abilities develop further, because one theory is replaced by another more developed one (cf. Miller 38). The theory approach which is arguably the most developed is that of Josef Perner, Henry Wellman and Alison Gopnik (cf. Miller 38).

Leslie explains the idea of ToMM as follows:

“evolution has equipped the human brain with a special module, a theory of mind mechanism (ToMM), that helps normally developing children to attend to the invisible mental states of others […]. This social instinct owes little to general reasoning powers” (61).

According to this approach, mindreading is also seen as a means to explain the behaviour of others but not through our experience or abilities; mindreading is explained by the existence of a “special module” which is “implanted” in our heads (cf. Leudar and Costall 2; cf. Sodian 117f.). Thus, everybody who has this “module” would be an excellent mindreader, as his or her experiences do not matter (cf. Leudar and Costall 2). “In the first half year, ToBy (theory of body mechanism) enables the infant to distinguish between agents and nonagents” (Sodian 117). Nevertheless, every approach is at least based on the biological premise that humans have brains (cf. Miller 38). The modularity approach makes a stronger claim, however, because “theory-of-mind reasoning [seems to be] made possible by an innately specified portion of the brain dedicated solely to the task of theory of mind (and thus […] separate from other brain regions)” (Miller 38). There are for instance ToMM1 and ToMM2 which are said to start their functions one after the other (cf. Sodian 117). ToMM1 supports the representation of intentional agents at the end of the 1st year of life, and ToMM 2 comes online around the age of 18 months and supports the development of metarepresentation” (Sodian 117). Alan Leslie and Simon Baron-Cohen are responsible for the most influential models of the modularity approach (cf. Miller 38). There are two important claims on which the modularity approach is based: firstly, that is has a strong biological basis, and secondly the idea that this theory of mind is independent and separate from other cognitive functions (cf. Miller 38). According to Miller, the study of Autism speaks in favour of the ToMM approach (cf. 38).

Another alternative toTheory-Theory of Mind are theSimulation Theories(ST), which are based on the process of mimicking (cf. Miller 37; cf. Bischof-Köhler 16; cf. Apperly 5, 176; cf. Sodian 116f.). Miller further suggests that ST is the earliest approach, and that our own thoughts, feelings and intentions are necessary to us because, by analogy, we can use them in order to understand other people's thoughts, feelings and intentions (cf. 37). “For example, we may predict how someone else will respond to an emotion-arousing stimulus by imagining how we ourselves would respond” (Miller 37f.). According to the ToMM approach, it is biology that makes us mindreaders. When it comes to TT and ST, the mindreader also has to use his or her previous knowledge of the “target”, of the person whose mind he/she wants to read (cf. Apperly 177). This means that the agent, the mindreader, has to select the important information for the mindreading process, which is a difficult action (cf. Apperly 177).

“An individual who relies on ST to create a model to mimic and better understand the emotions of the other person (often referred to as 'the target agent') is not the same as saying that the perceiver actually feels the target agent's emotions. Thus, although ST may closer approximate afeelingof 'empathy' than TT can, this is still not quite the 'empathy' envisaged by Singer which must involve the 'feeling' the other's state rather than merely 'mimicking' it” (Pagan 8).

Even though ST refers to the attempt of impersonating other mental states and seems to be more related to emotions than TT (cf. Froese et al. 1378), it is important to differentiate between ST andempathy. To make this distinction clearer, Singer suggested distinguishing betweencognitive perspective takingabilities which are associated with Theory of Mind and theemotional perspective takingabilities associated with empathy. Another reason as to why these two abilities have to be distinguished is because their existence is linked to completely separate neural networks (cf. Pagan 6). “Theory of Mind is associated with the brain areas MPC (media prefrontal cortex), TP (temporal poles), STS (superior temporal sulcus), and TPJ (temporo-parietal junction)” (Pagan 15). Empathy, on the other hand, is linked to ACC (anterior cingulate cortex), AI (anterior insula), and SII (secondary somatosensory cortex) (cf. Pagan 15). This shows that different brain regions are responsible for different social abilities. This is why I will discuss ToM instances and instances of empathy separately. Furthermore, empathy can be seen as something that happens automatically and unconsciously, whereas there is a huge debate as to whether ToM is automatic or conscious (cf. Pagan 7; cf. Saxe 8f.).

In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by other individuals and therefore have to try to understand their mental states (beliefs, knowledge, desires and intentions) because their mental states are the basis for their behaviour (e.g., people have intentions and want to satisfy their desires) and it is important to predict what they will do next (cf. Apperly 2, 4; cf. Maylor et al. 465). What we, as agents in social interactions, see, functions as a kind of stimulus that we have to analyse in order to arrive at reading other's minds (cf. Apperly 4f.). Apperly distinguishes between kinds of epistemic, emotional and motivational states with epistemic mental states being perceptions, knowledge and belief (cf. 4). A 'desire' is an 'intentional' state because they refer to something in the world. Desires can be about objects, like food or materialistic items, and they can also be about more complex things like friendship, love and happiness, desires which can also be found inFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus(cf. Miller 22f.). In comparison to beliefs, desires cannot be true or false but rather fulfilled or not (cf. Miller 23). Two-year-old children are able to talk about desires (but not so much about beliefs) which is shown through the use of verbs likewant(cf. Miller 23). By the age of three or sometimes even earlier, they understand that people act upon their desires, i.e., that they want to fulfil them, and thus, they understand that desires can be either fulfilled or unfulfilled (cf. Miller 23).[17]According to Wellman, young children form a desire theory which they are able to use to explain behaviour due to underlying desires but they do not yet understand the influence beliefs have on behaviour (cf. 79). Four-year-olds, on the other hand, realize that both desires and beliefs influence people's behaviour (cf. Wellman 103ff) (belief-desire psychology).

One important and frequently studied aspect of Theory of Mind isbeliefs. Beliefs are, in a way, ideas that people can have about things or even other people, but these beliefs can either be true, i.e. they correspond to reality, or they can be false, in which this case they are different from reality (cf. Pagan 8; cf. Maylor et al. 465). As adults, we probably think that this is a really trivial thing to say, as we know that beliefs can be false, but it actually takes some time until children are aware of their own false beliefs. Beliefs can be about something in the world or about other people's intentions, feelings and thoughts (cf. Miller 55). Wimmer and Perner carried out the very firstfalse beliefstudy with children in order to find out if and when children start to notice false beliefs (cf. Miller 4). “Some 4-year-olds and most 5-year-olds were able to do so, but 3-year-olds and many 4-year-olds could not” (Miller 4). Since this first test, hundreds of false belief tests have been carried out. Another very famous one is theSally-Annetask (cf. Miller 4, 9).[18]The basic finding can be summarised as follows: “young preschool children fail the standard false belief task, and for most children success emerges by the age of 4 or 5” (Miller 4). It would be wrong to assume that the development of Theory of Mind is complete by the age of five (cf. Mitchell et al. 4). At this age, most children are able to recognize so-calledfirst-order beliefs, i.e. when someone believes something in the world. But people can also have beliefs about other people's beliefs (“e.g. the wolf's belief about the Red Riding Hood's belief, the wizard's belief about Dorothy's belief“) which is calledsecond-order belief(cf. Miller 4). Most researchers say that it is at the age of 7 or 8 that most children are able to attribute a second-order false belief (cf. Miller 4). “Mastery of second-order false belief is a post-preschool development, a development that requires abilities beyond those sufficient for first-order success” (Miller 4). Nevertheless, even adults sometimes fail false belief tasks when sensitive-enough measures (cf. Birch and Bloom 382). Birch and Bloom suppose that there is acurse-of-knowledge bias,which means that adults are more likely to fail in false-belief reasoning when they have exact knowledge of the outcome of an event and also when one outcome is more plausible than the other (cf. 382). ToM capacity develops further and is refined through adulthood (cf. Pridmore 4). Maylor et al. found evidence for a decline in ToM performance with older adults, which is probably enhanced due to a decline in executive functioning (cf. 479f.). They argue that there is a “age-related decline in ToM performance” but they also admit that it is possible that the performance of participants was underestimated (cf. Maylor et al. 479f.). It seems that more research is necessary to come to a conclusion of how ToM develops in old age.

Furthermore, it would also be wrong to assume that children are not able to participate in social interactions or do anything related to ToMbeforethe age of 4 or 5. “The mastery of false belief is not a single, absent-to-present transition; rather, there are forms of partial knowledge prior to full mastery“ (Miller 17). Some children are said to have some understanding of false belief even before they pass false belief tasks (cf. Miller 17). Recent studies claim that infants who are only 13 or 15 months old should be able to recognise false beliefs (cf. Miller 17; cf. Perner and Ruffman 214). This claim is often criticised by those who believe that there is a link between ToM development and language acquisition, because, if there were certain ToM abilities at 15 months of age, they would have developed separately from language abilities (cf. Perner and Ruffman 214). Nonetheless, what can be said without much debate is that infants tend to look at things which surprise them for a long period of time and that ToM development starts in infancy (cf. Miller 18). Infants distinguish “between the social and nonsocial worlds from very early in life, and they eventually develop a number of competencies that are precursors to or early forms of later theory-of-mind developments” (Miller 25f., example of triadic interaction). Furthermore, like some non-human primates, infants are able to look which their mother has pointed to intentionally, which is calledjoint attention(cf. Byrnit 13ff.; cf. Schlinger 441). Birch and Bloom give some explanations as to why infants answer the false belief task according to their own knowledge, and thus why they answer the test incorrectly: it could either be because they do not yet understand the concept of belief or of mental states in general, or that they have problems of memory and executive functioning (cf. Birch and Bloom 382; cf. Mitchell et al. 13). It is unlikely that the child's egocentrism is the main problem, which some previously believed to be true (cf. Mitchell et al. 13). Birch and Bloom suggest that there is also the possibility that children suffer from curse-of-knowledge bias, which adults do in some situations, combined with a conceptual problem (cf. 382).

The prerequisites of ToM will be discussed in further detail in the next chapter, but first it is necessary to point out what the consequences of the development of ToM are. According to Miller, once first-order Theory of Mind has been reached, there are several “contemporary“ consequences of ToM which belong outside the domain of Theory of Mind but for which ToM abilities seem to be a prerequisite (cf. 34f.). On the one hand, well-developed ToM abilities seem to result in very good social skills (conflict solving, high social competence and successful social interactions) but on the other hand, there are also negative consequences, because individuals may use their mindreading skills in order to deceive, tease or manipulate others (cf. Miller 35). If a child is aware of the fact that another person does not know something the child does know, this mindreading ability can be easily used to keep the knowledge to oneself and have the advantage. Deception inFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheuswill be discussed in section 4. Moreover, children with relatively good ToM abilities can be “more sensitive to criticism [than other children are]“ (Miller 35).[19]I will return to some theoretical aspects of ToM and empathy as I continue with my master thesis.

3. Theory of Mind prerequisites in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

In this section, I will focus on what are sometimes referred to as “prerequisites of ToM”: self-awareness, language ability and executive functioning, among others (e.g. social factors, which will also be discussed). While I will try to separate these factors as best I can, it should be kept in mind that these aspects influence each other and that they are not lost once false-belief tasks are successfully completed; i.e., once an individual is able to recognise his or her own false belief or that of others.[20]These prerequisite abilities are said to be beneficial for the development of ToM. For instance, a good memory and the ability to inhibit one's own knowledge is necessary to be successful in false belief reasoning and the ability to express one's beliefs enables, of course, a second person to have access to the first person's mind (cf. Miller 34).

3.1 Self-awareness of Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster

This section is concerned with the question of whether Frankenstein and the monster are aware of their own mental states and the mental states of others. I will begin with Frankenstein and focus on the monster later on. “But what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!” (Shelley,Frankenstein23). Frankenstein states his aim and shows that he can verbally express his desire, thus he is aware of it. He wants to heal the human race of any existing disease (cf. Weber 15). Part of the awareness of his own state of mind is that Frankenstein in retrospect knows his thoughts and beliefs of the time when he planned the creation of the monster. When Frankenstein talks to Walton, he shows himself to be aware of his former state of mind in regard to the creation process:[21]

“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay? My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic impulse; urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit” (Shelley,Frankenstein36).

After having successfully built the monster, Frankenstein remarks how creepy and horrible the creation process was. During the process, he had another state of mind; he believed that whatever he did in order to achieve his goal would be worth it. With hindsight, Frankenstein “trembles” with disgust. He condemns himself for torturing animals. “And often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion” (Shelley,Frankenstein37). He is aware of his previous desire to build a man no matter what might be necessary to succeed. He was deeply engaged and occupied with the fulfilment of his desire as he tells Walton (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein37). Frankenstein is aware of his reflections: “I believed myself totally unfitted for the company of strangers. Such were my reflections as I commenced my journey. […] I had sufficient leisure for these and many other reflections” (Shelley,Frankenstein28). Frankenstein also seems aware of how his mind has improved. In chapter 3 of the first part of Shelley's novel, Frankenstein reports his success at university as “[he] made some discoveries in the improvement of some chemical instruments” and “[he] had become as well acquainted with the theory and practice of natural philosophy” (Shelley,Frankenstein33). This quotation shows that Frankenstein had learned more and become wiser and, thus, capable of creating the monster.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein tells Walton what he thinks a mind should be like. “A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind, and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity” (Shelley,Frankenstein37). At the end of his life, Frankenstein regards tranquillity as the perfect state of mind, which he himself had not achieved during the creation of the monster. He is aware of this fact, as earlier quotations show and like the following will show.

“The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. […] I had desired it […] now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley,Frankenstein39).

Frankenstein knows what he has to do in order to deal with this sorrow. “I hired men to row, and took an oar myself, for I had always experienced relief from mental torment in bodily exercise” (Shelley,Frankenstein167; emphasis EE). “I continued walking in this manner for some time […], by bodily exercise, to ease the load that weighed upon my mind” (Shelley,Frankenstein40; emphasis EE). He wanders around without aim, direction or any idea of where he was. This shows that, after some years when he meets Walton, he is still aware of how he was feeling and thinking at that particular moment. If Frankenstein had described what had happened without reference to his thoughts, feelings and beliefs, the novel would have been more factual (in the sense that only his actions step by step would have been narrated, like a chain of events), and therefore not as interesting and exciting as it is. If there were no allusions to mental states (in particular changes of mental states) in Shelley's work, the message of the novel would be altered because it is important to reflect on your own mental states and not to be too ambitious, as Frankenstein states at the end of his life (cf. Weber 12), “seek happiness in tranquillity, and avoid ambition” (Shelley,Frankenstein186). Nevertheless, Frankenstein changes his mind again only seconds later. “Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed” (Shelley,Frankenstein186) (cf. Weber 12). Weber suggests that this declaration is an unintentional self-revelation of Frankenstein and his role as the modern Prometheus because Frankenstein executes his plan regardless of the consequences (cf. 12). On the one hand, Frankenstein wants to warn Walton of the consequences of ambition, but on the other hand, Frankenstein is incorrigible because he still believes his aim to be honourable (cf. Weber 12). Frankenstein seems aware of his former mental states and his faults but nevertheless he is unreasonable.

Later in the novel, Frankenstein decides not to build a female monster. “I banished from my mind every thought that could lead to a different conclusion” (Shelley,Frankenstein143; emphasis EE). Frankenstein even uses the term “mind” and alludes to the mind several times in the novel (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein33).[22]“For a moment my soul was elevated from its debasing and miserable fears to contemplate the divine ideas of liberty and self-sacrifice” (Shelley,Frankenstein133; emphasis EE). The quotation above refers to a soul that contemplates, thus I assume that Frankenstein usessoulas another term formind.

Most of the examples in this section show clearly that Frankenstein is very aware of his mental states. The following quotations present a less explicit awareness. “I felt languid, and unable to reflect on all that had passed” (Shelley,Frankenstein149). After Henry's death, Frankenstein says that he is unable to reflect on what had happened, showing that he is aware of his thinking process in general, but that he fails to accept what had happened to his dear friend. “I sometimes doubted if indeed it were all true, for it never presented itself to my mind with the force of reality” (Shelley,Frankenstein150). Frankenstein uses the term “mind”, showing his awareness, but nevertheless indicates that he cannot believe what happened. Frankenstein's awareness of his mind is also shown through the use of verbs like “reflect”. “I was overcome by gloom and misery, and often reflected I had better seek death than remain [miserable]” (Shelley,Frankenstein150). The use of “reflect” indicates that he knows when he is pondering. “My pulse beat with a feverish joy, when I reflected that I should soon see Geneva” (Shelley,Frankenstein154f.). Frankenstein is often aware of his emotions, for example, in chapter 6 of the third part of the novel. “I had been calm during the day; but so soon as night obscured the shapes of objects, a thousand fears arose in my mind” (Shelley,Frankenstein164). Frankenstein refers to his state of mind several times (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein165). “In this state of mind I wrote to Elizabeth” (Shelley,Frankenstein160). This quotation obviously shows Frankenstein's awareness.

“As I heard [the scream], the whole truth rushed into my mind” (Shelley,Frankenstein165). Frankenstein seems aware of the fact that he had misinterpreted the monster's threat and that the monster did not plan to murder him but Elizabeth. In retrospect, Frankenstein is aware of his failing ToM (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein161ff.). “I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of [the monster], and desired and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head” (Shelley,Frankenstein168). Again, he is aware of his rage. Frankenstein talks about his emotions and uses the term 'thought', therefore showing he is aware of own intentions and desires, and thus aware of his own mind. “I confess that [my revenge] is the devouring and only passion of my soul. My rage is unspeakable, when I reflect that the murderer, whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists” (Shelley,Frankenstein170). Frankenstein feels oppressed by his thoughts during his hunt of the monster.

“Oh! With what a burning gush did hope revisit my heart! Warm tears filled my eyes, which I hastily wiped away, that they might not intercept the view I had of the deamon; but still my sight was dimmed by the burning drops, until, giving way to the emotions that oppressed me, I wept aloud” (Shelley,Frankenstein176).

The following quotation reveals the function sleep seems to have on Frankenstein's mind. “My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and it was during sleep alone that I could taste joy. […] For in sleep I saw my friends, my wife, and my beloved country” (Shelley,Frankenstein173). For Frankenstein, sleep leads to a certain peace of mind. “When younger, […] I felt as if I were destined for some great enterprise. […] I possessed a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements” (Shelley,Frankenstein179). At the end of his life, Frankenstein is aware of his former self, his thoughts and his false beliefs (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein180). He accounts for his behaviour and explains why he refused to create a female being for the monster which means that he must be aware of his former thoughts and intentions (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein185). “Think not, Walton, that in the last moments of my existence I feel that burning hatred, and ardent desire of revenge, I once expressed, but I feel myself justified in desiring the death of my adversary” (Shelley,Frankenstein185). He is aware of his former mental states, “in a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature” (Shelley,Frankenstein185). Moreover, Frankenstein seems aware of his decreased mental capacities before he dies. “My judgment and ideas are already disturbed by the near approach of death” (Shelley,Frankenstein186).

In addition to awareness of the mind, Frankenstein also seems to be aware of his memory. “This letter revived in my memory what I had before forgotten, the threat of the fiend –I will be with you on your wedding-night!” (Shelley,Frankenstein159). Frankenstein remembers the monster's threat and knows that he had forgotten it before. “The tranquillity which I now enjoyed did not endure. Memory brought madness with it; and when I thought on what had passed, a real insanity possessed me; sometimes I was furious, and burnt with rage, sometimes low and despondent” (Shelley,Frankenstein160; emphasis EE). What these two examples indicate is that memory often has a negative influence on the characters' emotions and mental state.

When Dr. Frankenstein talks to Walton on August 19th, Frankenstein is aware of the function facial expressions can have on others and knows that this might make Walton aware of his feelings, sorrows and thoughts. “You may easily perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes” (Shelley,Frankenstein17). The fact that Frankenstein says “you may easily perceive” shows Frankenstein's awareness of mindreading in general and of Walton's mindreading in particular. Therefore, Frankenstein must attribute a mental state to Walton, thus, he must be aware of Walton's mind.


[1]Theory of Mind is a rather new topic (since the mid-1980s) (cf. Miller 36). Piaget is seen as predecessor of ToM and his notion of egocentrism is what is nowadays seen as factor in the failing of mindreading and the recognition of false beliefs (cf. Miller 36). “As many commentators have noted, the topic itself probably would not exist had not Piaget come first – Piaget changed the way we think about and study children, and his legacy is clearly apparent in both the methods and the findings from the research on theory of mind” (Miller 37).

[2]The study of ToM started with the famous paper by Premack and Woodruff. They published results of a series of experiments with a chimpanzee named Sarah which was a trained and an acculturated chimpanzee. The chimpanzee had to find a solution for a problem. This task was not new for her because she had already performed well in some language learning experiments (cf. Premack and Woodruff 516ff.; cf. Miller 3). In these tests, a human faced the problem of not being able to reach for a banana. Then, Sarah was shown two pictures, one picture showing the solution to the problem and the other one which only presented an object but no solution (cf. Miller 3). “Sarah was close to perfect across a range of different problems” (Miller 3). Premack and Woodruff (1978) argued that the chimpanzee performed so well because she was able to read the mental states of the human, and to ignore her own mental state (cf. Miller 3). “Thus, to solve the bananas problem, for example, she would have to realize that the actordesiredthe bananas andbelievedthat the stick would allow him to reach them” (Miller 3). According to Premack and Woodruff, the chimpanzee must possess what they called “a Theory of Mind” (cf. 519ff.). Some researchers criticise these results because they claim that the chimpanzee could probably act on her own knowledge of reality on her own experience without considering the person's state of mind (cf. Miller 3).

[3]I will refrain from using the termsocial cognitionbecause I think it is too broad a term. For this work, I will primarily useTheory of MindandMindreading.I will predominantly use the termmindreadingwhen somebody is actually guessing/ assuming what another person thinks/ knows/ feels and I am going to useTheory of Mind/ ToMwhen I am talking about the general concept (what are the prerequisites, what are aspects and development of ToM etc). The termfolk psychologyrefers to the idea that adults in every culture share certain beliefs about mental states and that these beliefs influence their behaviour in social interactions (cf. Miller 2, ToM as a universal phenomenon).

[4]ToM can be seen as “one of the fastest growing bodies of empirical research in psychology over the last 30 years” (Leudar and Costall 1).

[5]Very good mindreading abilities were found in some human infants and also some non-human species (e.g. chimpanzee). Chimpanzees are said to have Theory of Mind abilities (see Premack and Woodruff). Great apes have similar abilities compared to human beings (cf. Bischof-Köhler 1). ToM is the basis for insightful thinking and problem solving (cf. Bischof-Köhler 2). Chimpanzees and Orang-Utans have a certain concept of their self because they can recognize their image in a mirror (cf. Bischof-Köhler 2). Furthermore, these animals are capable to solve problems for humans when humans show their intentions and that they are not able to solve them alone (cf. Bischof-Köhler 2; cf. Perner and Ruffman 214). But there are aspects of ToM that are human specific, e.g. empathy and the ability to have a certain sense of time and, this leads to the ability ofmental time-travelling(translation of the technical termmentale Zeitreise, EE) (cf. Bischof-Köhler 2). The concept of belief seems to be such a specifically human aspect (cf. Perner and Ruffman 214). Nevertheless, some human adults sometimes have poor mindreading abilities (cf. Apperly 1, cf. Birch and Bloom 385).

[6]To find out when children are able to attribute mental states to others and recognize a false belief, researchers very often used different forms of the false-belief task (e.g. theSally-AnneTask; cf. Pagan 8, cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 41; cf. Saxe 1). “Children aged four and older start to correctly attribute false beliefs to others and give verbal explanations when asked. At age five, over 90% of children understand this task, at age six all of them do so” (Pagan 8). Factors in regard to the development of ToM are for instance language proficiency, awareness of the own mind and good executive functioning which will be discussed in chapter 3.

[7]Autism is seen as a relatively rare developmental disorder which affects about 4 in every 10,000 children (cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 37). The children's behaviour is analysed and the main symptoms are impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication. Furthermore, children or even adults with autism have problems in social interactions and with mindreading (cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 37f). Learning disability as a further symptom can occur (cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 38). For these children, it is more difficult to attribute mental states to others than for normally developing children and it is more challenging to manage second-order beliefs (person X believes that person Y believes that...) (cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 38). Baron-Cohen and colleagues made autistic children, normally developing preschool children and children with the Down's Syndrome take the false-belief task (Sally-Anne task). They had to answer the question of where Sally will look for the marble when she returns. Obviously, the correct answer is that Sally would look for the marble in the first location, where she has originally put it. In this study, the children with the Down’s Syndrome and normally developing preschool children answered by pointing at the original location which means that they passed the task (cf. Baron-Cohen et al. 42). They were able to ignore their knowledge of the real place, they ignored reality in order to focus on the information Sally had. The autistic children, on the other hand, pointed to where the marble had been put when Sally was 'outside', i.e. to where it really was at the moment when they were asked. According to Baron-Cohen and colleagues, (most) autistic children fail to employ a Theory of Mind what they explain is due to the children's inability to represent mental states (cf. 43). “As a result of this the autistic subjects are unable to impute beliefs to others and are thus at a grave disadvantage when having to predict the behaviour of other people“ (Baron-Cohen et al. 43). An interesting conclusion that they draw is that the cognitive abilities used when people take different points of view cannot be related to learning disability because the more severely affected children with Down's Syndrome were able to pass the test whereas autistic children failed. According to the researchers, their study points towards a “crucial distinction between the understanding of perceptual situations and the attribution of higher order mental states” (Baron-Cohen et al. 43). They “demonstrated a cognitive deficit that is largely independent of general intellectual level and has the potential to explain both lack of pretend play and social impairment by virtue of a circumscribed cognitive failure“ (Baron-Cohen 44). Schizophrenia and high functioning autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) mainly impair social competence but general intelligence (IQ) is spared which shows that intelligence is not responsible for ToM development (cf. Froese et al. 1376, 1382ff; cf. Pridmore 8). Some suppose that eating disorders, unipolar depression and some forms of dementia are based on failing/ unsufficiently developed ToM (cf. Pridmore 1).

[8]Given that the human mind in its numerous complex environments has been the object of study of literary critics for longer than it has been the object of study of cognitive scientists, “[she] would, in fact, be suspicious of any cognitive reading so truly “original” that it can find no support in any of the existing literary critical paradigms” (Zunshine 2006: 5).

[9]The research of ToM is criticised by Leudar and Costall because they think it is “self-enclosed” and avoids other explanations for social actions (besides ToM) (cf. 1). They remark that there is not much critical literature on ToM (cf. 1). “'Theory of Mind' has become so much part of the furniture in developmental and cognitive psychology that it is now largely confused with the very phenomena it was introduced to explain” (Leudar and Costall 1). They think that the assumption that social actions go hand in hand with mindreading is hindering for research because thus the study of intentional social activities is no longer a matter of social psychology but of cognitive psychology (cf. Leudar and Costall 2). For criticism on definitions, see Leudar and Costall 3ff. To emphasise the definition problem, they use the termToMism(cf. Leudar and Costall 4). Another point of critique is that words are interpreted as referring to mental states when they actually do not, e.g.I thoughtandI know(cf. Sharrock and Coulter 57). According to Sharrock and Coulter, these verbs do not refer to mental states but are used to give answers (cf. 57). For more on the criticism of Theory-theory (TT) and Simulation-theory (ST) (Sharrock and Coulter 58ff.) and on mindreading (cf. Froese et al. 1378ff). “TT and ST are both inclined drastically to marginalize the fact that human beings are cultural creatures […] and the extent to which 'the solution' to 'the problem' of understanding other people – of 'understanding that other people have mental states' – does not require the ingenius one-off contrivance (or innate activation) of some psychological mechanism, but is the accumulating product of theprogressiveenculturation of the individual” (Sharrock and Coulter 87, highlighted in the original). For more criticism on TT, see Reddy and Morris (92ff.). “As a result of their underlying philosophical commitments, TT and ST are both inclined drastically to marginalize the fact that human beings are cultural creatures […] and that the extent to which 'the solution' to 'the problem' of understanding other people – of 'understanding that other people have mental states' – does not require the ingenious on-off contrivance (or innate activation) of some psychological mechanism, but is the accumulating product of theprogressiveenculturation of the individual” (Sharrock and Coulter 87). Sharrock and Coulter believe that it is by enculturation that individuals become able to participate in different activities and social interactions (cf. 87). Moreover, Sharrock and Coulter emphasise that understanding others is a complex, “not unitary task” and they think that “it is perhaps that tendency to think of this in an almost wholly abstract way which creates the false impression that it is a single, well-defined affair” (87). But I think that this criticism is maybe not well-founded because Theory of Mind is not a single, easily-explainable thing. It is complex in itself and not only “a module” that does everything on its own. Even this “module idea” (ToMM) is complex and only one theory of ToM. Researchers on ToM focus on interrelations with self-awareness, executive functioning and language ability as factors which can influence ToM. If socialization was enough for people to be successful in social interactions, how is it possible that there are individuals with better or worse ToM skills? Reddy and Morris criticise that there are different versions of “theory” even among theTheory-Theoristsand they also think that the explanations why children can deceive before the age of 4 in some studies (which according to ToM research is unlikely), are not sufficient (cf. 92, 94). Reddy and Morris say that “the claim that children cannot lie until they pass the false-belief task was made partly on the logic of the theory, and partly on the evidence that children with autism and children under the age of four both fail the false-belief task and are reported not to lie” (93). But there are other findings which indicate that even children under the age of 3 are able to deceive (they perform better when they were trained to do so) and more recent studies show that children might be able to deceive even when they do not pass the false-belief task (cf. Reddy and Morris 93). This seems to show that the failure of the recognition of own and other's false beliefs is not as closely related to the ability to deceive as was once thought.

[10]I am aware of the fact that the use of the termmonsterand the pronounheis debatable. I could also usecreatureor other terms that are used in the book, but I decided to usemonsterbecause I do not think it is more negative thancreature.I decided not to use the pronounitbecause this would dehumanize the monster and I think that apart from his outer appearance, he is more like a human being. He has feelings, he is able to learn, reason and reflect on things which happened in the past. He is able to plan ahead and, what this master thesis will discuss, probably has a Theory of Mind. Furthermore, he is built with human parts and possesses a human heart and brain.

[11]For information on the evolution of the human brain, see Bjorklund, Cormier and Rosenberg 157-159; cf. Byrnit 1ff.

[12]Descartes regards bodies as “extended things” and mind as “thinking things” (cf. Eckert 1). Descartes is a dualist (cf. Eckert 1).

[13]“According to the [identity theory], mental events, states and processes are identical with neurophysiological events in the brain, and the property of being in a certain mental state (such as having a headache or believing it will rain) is identical with the property of being in a certain neurophysiological state” (Fodor 86). This theory also favours the idea that several mental states interact and will then lead to behaviour (cf. Fodor 86).

[14]More on the advantages of identity theory and critique of behaviourist theory: Fodor 86. Identity theory takes “the explanatory constructs of psychology at face value“ (Fodor 86). “Moreover, the identity theory is not a semantic thesis, it is immune to many arguments that cast in doubt logical behaviorism. A drawback of logical behaviorism is that the observation 'John has a headache' does not seem to mean the same thing as a statement of the form 'John is disposed to behave in such and such a way'. The identity theorist, however, can live with the fact that 'John has a headache' and 'John is in such and such a brain state' are not synonymous” (Fodor 86).

[15]Criticism of functionalism: “the functionalist definition is not limited to mental states and processes” (Fodor 92; e.g. example with machines see Fodor). Relation between functionalism and intentional mental states (cf. Fodor 93). “To say that a mental state has intentional content is to say that is [sic] has certain semantic properties” (Fodor 93).

[16]The criticism on Theory of Mind in general, and TT/ ST in particular can be found in footnote 9 and Apperly 178. “Theory-theorists and simulation-theorists have spent a lot of effort trying to generate distinctive empirical predictions with rather limited success” (Apperly 178).

[17]Miller explains how to study children's awareness of desires through thebroccoli/crackers test: As the name of the test suggests, children have to choose between crackers and broccoli. Most of the children preferred crackers which is why they gave the researchers crackers when they were asked about their own desires. Then, the children were told that the researcher prefers broccoli and not crackers (cf. Miller 24). “Most of the 14-month-olds gave her the crackers, the snack that they themselves preferred. Most of the 18-month-olds, however, gave her the broccoli, thus demonstrating a realization that different people may have different desires“ (Miller 24). This shows that only the older children were able to understand that the researcher had different desires than their own. “Understanding of discrepant desires thus seems to emerge long before understanding of discrepant beliefs” (Miller 24).

[18]In 1983, Wimmer and Perner worked with what is nowadays known asunexpected locationorunexpected transfertask (cf. Miller 3; cf. Apperly 12). “Children heard a story in which a boy named Maxi brought home some chocolate, put it in the green cupboard, and went out to play“ (Miller 4). During the time Maxi is outside, his mother came in and removed the chocolate “from the green cupboard, broke off a piece for cooking, and put the rest back in the blue cupboard“ (Miller 3). In the story, the boy then returns and looks for his chocolate. After hearing this story, the children were asked where Maxi will look for his chocolate. The correct answer is, of course, the green cupboard because Maxi did not see his mother remove the chocolate (cf. Miller 4). In order to answer this question correctly the child must be able to “set aside his or her own knowledge of the reality and realize that Maxi would hold a false belief“ (Miller 4). This test helps us understand beliefs as mental representations (cf. Miller 9). According to Pagan, it is ST rather than TT that lies behind theSally-Annetask (cf. 8). Pagan also argues that it is unlikely that individuals who fail theSally-Annetask have as much pleasure while reading literary fiction as those individuals who pass the Sally-Anne test (cf. 8). Individuals who cannot attribute mental state to others, might appreciate literature less. Another version of this task was by Hogrefe, Wimmer and Perner (1986) and deals withunexpected contents.The child is shown e.g. a Smarties box, “a container that typically holds one sort of content“ (Miller 11) and then the child is asked what is in this box but without looking. Of course, the child says that there are Smarties in the Smarties box. Then, they look and see that there are actually crayons in the box (cf. Miller 9). The child is then asked what somebody who is absent would think is in the box. “Children must set aside their own knowledge of reality to attribute a false belief to someone else who lacks their knowledge” (Miller 11). The correct answer is that the other person would, of course, think that there are Smarties in the box. Furthermore, this contents task has an advantage because the researcher can ask the child what he or she thought was in the box before the child was allowed to look into the box. If the child is able to say that he or she really thought that Smarties were in the box, the child is able to remark his or her false belief (cf. Miller 11; cf. Byrnit 7). Children under the age of 4 typically are not able to do this (cf. Miller 11). “The question about their own belief is just as difficult for children as the question about someone else's belief” (Miller 11). There are first-order and second-order false belief tasks (cf. Sodian 101f, 111f.).

[19]As part of the phenomenon that can be observed prior to the success on false belief tasks are for instance early forms of deception (cf. Miller 36). “More generally, the impressive skills that toddlers or preschoolers demonstrate in their everyday social interactions often seem out of line with their poor performance on laboratory measures of social understanding” (Miller 36). This shows that failure on false belief tasks does not always indicate that a child is less developed socially (of course, age is relevant).

[20]For more information, see Schneider et al.

[21]In retrospect, Frankenstein remembers his thoughts during the process of the monster's creation. He names several states of mind like doubt and pride. “I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man” (Shelley,Frankenstein35). He is also aware that he was driven by his success and that he was self-confident enough to create a man. “I doubted not that I should ultimately succeed” (Shelley,Frankenstein35). After the creation of the monster, Frankenstein knows of his former state of mind and how it has changed after he saw the monster. When the monster is alive, “[Frankenstein is] unable to compose [his] mind to sleep” (Shelley,Frankenstein39). “I remembered shuddering at the mad enthusiasm that hurried me on the creation of my hideous enemy, and called to mind the night during which he first lived. I was unable to pursue the train of thought; a thousand feelings pressed upon me, and I wept bitterly” (Shelley,Frankenstein155, emphasis EE). In summary, Frankenstein is aware of his former false belief regarding the outcome of his creation (cf. Shelley,Frankenstein137).

[22]Due to a lack of space, the following quotations have been put in the footnotes. They also indicate Frankenstein's awareness of his own mind. After Frankenstein promised to create a female being, he refers to his mental states. Frankenstein says “my spirits, when unchecked by the memory of my unhappy promise, rose proportionably” (Shelley,Frankenstein124; emphasis EE). “I revolved rapidly in my mind a multitude of thoughts, and endeavoured to arrive at some conclusion” (Shelley,Frankenstein126; emphasis EE). This quotation shows Frankenstein using the term “mind“ and also that he knows about the concept of thoughts. Frankenstein, when he ponders over whether he should marry Elizabeth immediately or later. “Even I, depressed in mind, and my spirits continually agitated by gloomy feelings, even I was pleased. […] I seemed to drink in a tranquillity to which I had long been a stranger” (Shelley,Frankenstein129; emphasis EE).

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Mindreading and false belief. Theory of Mind in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus"
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
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Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Theory of Mind, false beliefs, empathy, Sympathiesteuerung
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Eva-Maria Ehrhardt (Author), 2015, Mindreading and false belief. Theory of Mind in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/339891


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