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[Xmca-l] Re: Dynamics of Developmental Change

I was about to reply in a similar vein but Martin has said it better than I would. The ToM Theory has always struck me as being a particularly odd way to think about how babies and infants engage with the world. I think it is a striking example of adults projecting their mental processes into the bodies and minds of infants (which may well be a powerful force for pedagogy and a necessary condition for intersubjectivity). Few would argue that infants engage with, let alone think about, the mental processes of other people. I would go so far as to say that they don't really engage with other people, at least not in the full sense of recognising a clear distinction between self and other. Rather they engage WITH others IN interactions. Even very young babies are quite capable of noticing differences in the felt experience of interactions with familiar and less familiar others, well before these others are tidily resolved into independently existing categories. It is through engaging in different kinds of interactions that we become aware of the differences between different others and it is this that then allows us to construct an idea of our 'self' as another different other. John Shotter uses Karen Barad's term 'intra-action' in preference to 'inter-action' to emphasise the distinction between a model which focuses on connectedness and one which focuses on 'dividuality'.

Colwyn Trevarthen clearly doesn't understand 'intersubjectivity' as a process which requires infants to hold a clear understanding of dividing lines between their own subjectivity and that of others but I suspect that preferring to talk in terms of 'intrasubjectivity' might not help people to grasp what he thinks is going on.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin John Packer
Sent: 11 September 2015 14:20
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dynamics of Developmental Change

David, Carol,

Why not attribute a theory of mind to infants?

First, because it seems extraordinary to suggest that infants are capable of forming theories. Piaget certainly never suggested that sensorimotor intelligence involved the forming of theories. Vygotsky argued that infants are incapable of verbal thinking, which would also seem to rule out the ability to form theories.

Second, because there is no reason to think that infants know anything at all about mental states such as beliefs and desires. Piaget didn't attribute such knowledge to infants. Vygotsky argued that children are not aware of their own 'interiority' until around school age, and if this is the case it is hard to see how they could know about the interiority of other people.

Third, the researcher responsible for identifying the phenomena of primary intersubjectivity, Colwyn Trevarthen, does not explain it in terms of theory of mind.



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