HPSM Lecture - Dominic Murphy - University of Sydney

Title: Delusions Across Cultures

 I address delusions in a particular context, namely, cross-cultural psychology. I introduce some distinctions among ways of understanding psychopathology as either universal or culturally particular, and then discuss the relation of delusion to folk epistemology. If there are interesting things to say about knowledge and belief across cultures, there should also be interesting things to say about delusions, because the attribution and understanding of delusion employs many of the techniques and concerns of epistemology. Recently it has been suggested that humans have a shared, evolved folk epistemology. If that is correct, delusions might be universal, in the sense that they represent departures from the correct functioning of folk epistemology.  I argue against the idea of a shared folk epistemology across cultures and suggest that delusions are conceptually tied to characteristically modern habits of thought, rather than an inherited universal folk epistemology.