[xmca] intersubjectivity, deception, perhaps also theory of mind

From: minati panda <pandam66 who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 13:06:16 PDT

Dear Paul, Michael, Anna and other colleagues,

Thanks a lot for the help. I found most of your instant comments/remarks
very helpful. Last week I posted some of my problems/querries on xmca. It
did not reach anybody. I tgought it reached everybody except me. Today I
found that it did not reach anybody.

Anna, I got the book issued yesterday and went through it quickly. It will,
indeed, help me a lot. I am, obviously, using discourse analysis technique
for analysing my ethnographic data. Children, here, both co-opearte and
compete with each other through employing different strategies. I see them
engaging in different levels of intersubjectivity, one of them being very
complex one where they use verbal and non-verbal stategies to misguide the
opponent so that the opponent gets distracted from attending to the most
critical part of the board game, at least for the next move. The players
maintain intersubjectivity through verbal means (frequently uttering ok,
fine, go ahead) and adher to the rules, but at the same time, they engage in
intense mind reading, employ verbal and non verbal strategies to misguide or
distract the other player. Can we call this a strong form of
intersubjectivity? Is it not much more than simple collaboration? One can
explain using the construct 'theory of mind'. But, if I want to reflect on
intersubjectivity, how would one look at it! One obviously deals with 2/3
concepts at a time.

Most of the ethnographic studies show that children learn the folk games by
spontaneously collaborating with each other. If we look at it from another
angle, children cooperate with each other till they are ready to give a
tough fight to each other, or to others at least. Then, they enjoy the game
at a different level, where they compete, trick each other, employ deceptive
strategies----all of these they do while maintening certain level of
intersubjectvity.-----my problem here is dealing with copmlex things
together. Prof. Cole is raising valid methodological questions regarding
how to reflect confidently on the forms/levels of intersubjectivity. We are
still trying to grapple with the issue as I had not video recorded the

As it is an ethnographic data, we are facing copmlexities like these as
well. If we ignore one aspect, we seem to be imposing a structure to
simplify it. I agree with what Tomasello, Mike, all of you say about
collaboration being the most complex and fundamental a process for cultural
learning. But, most societies, organise cultural activities in a manner that
its members not only learn to collaborate but also learn ways to have
copmetitive adavantage over other fellow beings so that they survive
better. This game context has a peculiar mix of phases of cooperation and
competition. Our data shows that. Our problem is dealing with these 3
concepts together withing a single theoretical framework. I thought
'intersubjectivity' could be one that may include and explain all these. But
it is too complex! There are so many methodological issues involved here.
Michael, can you explain little more explicitly what you mean by "begin
other way round"?
Paul's response did not still make it clear to me though I got a sense of
what you are generally saying. Can you please explain me little more in the
context of our data?

Thanks for all the help. I welcome all your suggestions. I joined xmca
recently. I find it very helpful and stimulating.

Thanks once again.

Minati Panda
(currently visiting lchc, UCSD)

Associate Professor
Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies
School of Social Sciences
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110067
xmca mailing list
Received on Tue May 1 14:08 PDT 2007

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