sign, symbol, meaning, AND Intentionality

From: Bill Barowy (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 05:08:16 PST

It's curious that the problem of intentionality being under-characterized in
semiotics and the problem of semiotic development also being theoretically
under-characterized seem to meet in one paper on infants. My thanks to Jay
for helping to make the connection.

Jay wrote:
"... there are no "bare" objects, that notion is an abstraction we
 construct on the basis of conventional similarities among many
 interpreted-objects; every object is always-already interpreted, though we
 can wonder over the sense in which pre-language, pre-symbol-using bodily
 interactions do some kind of proto-semiosis or "interpreting".

Tricia Striano and Philippe Rochat wrote:

"Infants referential looking radiates across much of their behavioral
repertoire by the end of the first year. For instance, infants start to
follow people's gaze or gesture in relation to external events and situations
(Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998; Corkum&Moore, 1998), to look to others
in the context of joint play (Bakeman&Adamson, 1984; Carpenter et al., 1998),
and to check their emotional perspective to disambiguate a novel situation
(Campos & Sternberg, 1981; Sorce, Emde, Campos, & Klinnert, 1985; Walden &
Ogan, 1988). Two opposing viewpoints are commonly cited to account for the
manifestation of referential looking. The traditional, rich, interpretation
is that the ability of infants to engage in referential looking across a
variety of contexts presupposes a rudimentary insight into others minds. The
idea is that infants seek and interpret others focus of attention and
corresponding emotional perspective because they appreciate that people have
emotions, intentions, and perspectives that differ from their own
(Bretherton, 1991; Striano&Rochat, 1999; Tomasello, 1995; Wellman, 1993)."

And their study concluded that, while the study of 7 month olds did not
support the rich interpretation:

"Infants [10-month-olds] show selectivity in their social referencing
depending on the attention (intention) of the social partner toward or away
from them. This finding strongly suggests that an intentional stance
underlies 10-month-old infants referential looking patterns."

(Emergence of Selective Social Referencing in Infancy , Infancy, 2000)

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