Re: sign, symbol, meaning, AND Intentionality

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 06:43:31 PST

Thanks for re-enforcing Jay's comment, Bill. Sign-mediated action
and intentionality DO appear to arrise as part of a single process
ontogenetically and I think that a good case can be made for the same
being true phylogenetically. I was struggling over thoughts in this
domain wondering what "firstness" could mean, and the relation between
icon, index, symbol and tool in the picture warning people about
turtles crossing the road.

On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 08:08:16 -0500, Bill Barowy <> wrote:
> 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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