You thought…

It was time for Lillian to clean her teeth.  I reached intending to pick up and hand her her toothbrush, but absent-mindedly first, and only briefly, moved my hand towards my own (blue) toothbrush.

Lillian didn’t miss that.

Quick as a flash, she said “Daddy, you thought that your toothbrush was mine!”


Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but here’s some of what was going on:

– first, she has sufficient “theory of mind” that she understood that I can have false thoughts, i.e., what philosophers call propositional attitudes (“the thought that <proposition>”) which may be false

– she can correctly interpret me as having such false thoughts on the basis of subtle cues such as a slightly odd movement of the hand

– she can attribute that false thought to me by means of a sentence with correct grammatical form

– she has sufficient sensitivity to the social context to realise that pointing out that I have the false thought is something worth saying.

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