The Shared World

The Shared World

Perceptual Common Knowledge, Demonstrative Communication, and Social Space

By Axel Seemann

A novel treatment of the capacity for shared attention, joint action, and perceptual common knowledge.





A novel treatment of the capacity for shared attention, joint action, and perceptual common knowledge.

In The Shared World, Axel Seemann offers a new treatment of the capacity to perceive, act on, and know about the world together with others. Seemann argues that creatures capable of joint attention stand in a unique perceptual and epistemic relation to their surroundings; they operate in an environment that they, through their communication with their fellow perceivers, help constitute. Seemann shows that this relation can be marshaled to address a range of questions about the social aspect of the mind and its perceptual and cognitive capacities. Seemann begins with a conceptual question about a complex kind of sociocognitive phenomenon—perceptual common knowledge—and develops an empirically informed account of the spatial structure of the environment in and about which such knowledge is possible. In the course of his argument, he addresses such topics as demonstrative reference in communication, common knowledge about jointly perceived objects, and spatial awareness in joint perception and action.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262039796 248 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 2 b&w illus.


  • “This is a timely and fascinating book on the epistemology of social knowledge. Seemann's approach is both complementary to, but also a challenge for, the current dominant alternative view of social cognition in philosophy and psychology, the 4E (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive) account of mind. We need more work like this that is not a simple attempt to accommodate the psychological evidence, but rather that helps us make sense of it.”

    Timothy Racine

    Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University

  • “Seemann insightfully brings together a wealth of conceptual ingredients from philosophy and psychology in an original—inspired and inspiring—recipe that makes the reader think afresh about one of the most elusive scientific conundrums: the explanation of how human individuals manage to achieve their shared experience of the world.”

    Juan-Carlos Gómez

    School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews, UK

  • “In The Shared World, Axel Seemann grapples with explicating the role of others in our understanding of the world, a problem that is linked to understanding the nature and development of the mind. In contrast to individualistic approaches, Seemann brings out the social dimension of human minds by rooting the development of joint attention and the construction of social space in the infant's joint activity with others.”

    Jeremy Carpendale

    Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University