Speaker Series | Renatas Berniūnas

This Lecture occured Tuesday, May 21, 2024 for an in-person speaker series event at the American Corner and MakeUspace in the Ulaanbaatar City Library. Watch the recorded lecture below!

Speaker: Dr. Renatas Berniūnas, Postdoctoral researcher at the Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark

"Setgel: exploring Mongolian notion of the mind"


Mainstream cognitive science, among other things, has sought to understand how ordinary people think about the “mind.” It has been assumed that people employ some universal folk Theory of Mind in everyday life. However, this general approach heavily relied on the English-based notion of “mind” and neglected the potential influence of cultural learning. The current talk will explore an alternative cultural approach and briefly discuss the Mongolian notion of “setgel”.  Mongolian notion of “setgel” is a versatile mental term (akin to the English term "mind") and provides an example of an alternative cultural way of conceptualizing the mind. In particular, I will present and discuss some preliminary cognitive anthropological data indicating the relational nature of the ”setgel” (that is not in the “mind”). If the Mongolian case challenges the picture of the universal folk Theory of Mind, then it is time to re-evaluate those universalistic assumptions.


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