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Reading: The impossible mind of sociology


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Special Section: Fictioning Social Theory (coord. Olli Pyyhtinen)

The impossible mind of sociology


Matti Hyvärinen

Universidad de Tampere, FI
About Matti

Matti Hyvärinen ha estudiado la historia conceptual de la narrativa, los giros narrativos y la teoría narrativa interdisciplinar. Es coeditor de los volúmenes Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media. Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds [‘Teoría narrativa, literatura y nuevos medios. Mentes narrativas y mundos virtuales’] (Routledge 2015), The Travelling Concepts of Narrative [‘Los conceptos viajeros de la narrativa’] (Benjamins 2013), y Beyond Narrative Coherence [‘Tras la coherencia narrativa’] (Benjamins 2010). Es el subdirector del centro de investigación Narrare, de la Universidad de Tampere.

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The mind has not been a central concept in sociology. According to the traditional view, the mind is located in the brain, and is thus bereft of observable social facts for sociological studies. At most, it is a concept of psychology or philosophy. This article argues that the history of the modern novel provides large amounts of data about minds and consciousness. Even though individual novels are fictional and invented, the continual reception of these fictional presentations verifies their social relevance. The article argues that fiction establishes the main social discourse on possible private thoughts, thus having a great impact on how we understand and speak about minds and human interiority. The argument is advanced by selectively reading a long-standing narratological debate on literary minds and their exceptionality. The article renounces the cognitive theories of ‘mind-reading’ as overly optimistic and metaphorically misleading, resorting instead to the phenomenological theories of ‘primary intersubjectivity’, which help in understanding how novelists are able to invent credible minds in the first place.

How to Cite: Hyvärinen, M., 2019. The impossible mind of sociology. Digithum, (24). DOI:
Published on 25 Jul 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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