What is it to understand another person? A popular view in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and various other disciplines is that interpersonal understanding is a matter of attributing a 'commonsense' or 'folk' psychology, consisting primarily of an ability to attribute internal propositional attitudes on the basis of behavioural observations. The emphasis of recent debates has been on which mechanisms enable us to do this, how they arise during development and how they might have evolved, rather than on whether we actually do it at all. Ratcliffe disputes the shared premise on which these debates rest. He argues that 'folk psychology', as generally described, is a theoretically motivated, simplistic and misleading abstraction from social life, which is wrongly asserted to be 'commonsense' or 'what the folk think'. Drawing on phenomenology, he offers an alternative account of interpersonal understanding. his account emphasizes a distinctive kind of bodily relatedness between people and the extent to which interpersonal interactions are regulated by shared social environments.

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