Re: sign, symbol, meaning, AND Intentionality

From: Bramble House (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 21:18:03 PST

Thanks Bill.
My response is of no use, because I can't for the life of me remember the
book I'm thinking about,
(but I'm still searching and if I think of it I'll let you know) but in any
event...[preamble ends ...HERE]

Yes, infant studies have, for years, revealed amazing information about
human beings,
including things like sensory information = the particular and specialized
attentiveness of infants has been traced to many attributes, including
sensitivity based on such innate characteristics such as temperament (many
studies in the 70s and 80s
looked at temperament in infants, truly awesome information for looking at
child development);
as well as sensory effects like bioelectic, biomagnetic response and light
effect, to name but a few.
The book I'm
referring to (which I can't [BUGGER] remember) listed some 17 sensory
responses that infants
experience, experiences which are filtered _out_ as the standard 5 sense
reality dominates an infant's
world... kind of fascinating really, because it all alludes the kind of
people we might yet become,
something very near and dear to my heart...

Anyhow, yes, infant intelligence & awareness studies are an exceptional
place to start
when trying to make sense of sign/symbol relations.

I wrote a terribly brilliant paper once on the influence of rhythm in
language and thought
development in humans, basing it all on the influence of auditory
development in prenatal
stages (i.e., even deaf people can hear their own heartbeat and in fact, the
one thing that
all humans experience is that rhythmic experience, which can potentially
explain music and
poetry, for example, and language,'s a symbolic experience with
that prepares us for sign reality, but oops hey without the full
dissertation it's a very silly claim to make)

Funny story actually. And I'm feeling wordy. :)
I was an undergrad in ECE, and just _motivated_ by inspirations that would
make absolutely no sense
whatsoever if I were to try and recount it all. Suffice it to say that I was
certain of something that wasn't
available in the early childhood education theory that I was being taught,
it was all so mechanical and
icky... Anyhooo, I was sure of something that I couldn't pinpoint, so I went
about figuring it out.

I wrote this really wild dissertation (that nearly got me expelled from the
program) and presented
it at a conference in Oakland University (Michigan) (while still an
undergrad) that proposed that social realities
such as language and thought, sign/symbol development evolved and are
subsequently easily acquired
 because of the experience with
a heartbeat in prenatal life. It was based on really random facts like the
inner ear is the first sensory phenomenon to
develop in prenatal development, and I wondered if it wasn't stimulated in
some way - ya, we know now that
prenatal experience is highly audible, so hey, the mother's heartbeat is
right there isn't it. boom, boom, ba-boom,
etc., for many many months... followed by the infant's own heartbeat, and it
evolved from there, damn I wish I had the I say, it's the one
universal that is shared by everyone, deaf, blind, paralysed, catatonic,
poor, rich,
West African, East Indonesian, South Russian, North American, it is
absolutely universal, the only
universal, to this day, that I can discern, actually. Prenatal auditory
development as a precursor to
sign/symbol intelligence. Uh Huh.

Anyway, the paper was received really well. At that time (early 90s) infant
studies were not a part of
Child Development theory, so it's a pleasure to see you referring to those,
because, frankly,
infant studies are a gold mine. That, with a little philosophy, some
imagination, some smarts, yep.
We might figure ourselves out yet.

Yikes. This was a little bit about "how great I used to be before I burned
out" wasn't it? Sad.

You know when I moved to Denver,[a brief stint] the groundskeeper of the
apartment complex where I lived
was a PhD in philosophy, and I thought, at the time, "Wow, that's me..."
How prophetic.

Christ. I'm freaking tragic. :)

But successful. !! ;)


Diane Hodges

La Maison Bramble House
19 Valois Bay Avenue
Pointe Claire, QC H9R 4B4

Tel: (514) 630-6363
Fax: (514) 344-2994

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Barowy" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 8:08 AM
Subject: sign, symbol, meaning, AND Intentionality

> It's curious that the problem of intentionality being under-characterized
> semiotics and the problem of semiotic development also being theoretically
> under-characterized seem to meet in one paper on infants. My thanks to
> 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
> 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
> (Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998; Corkum&Moore, 1998), to look to
> in the context of joint play (Bakeman&Adamson, 1984; Carpenter et al.,
> 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,
> is that the ability of infants to engage in referential looking across a
> variety of contexts presupposes a rudimentary insight into others minds.
> idea is that infants seek and interpret others focus of attention and
> corresponding emotional perspective because they appreciate that people
> 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
> 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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