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RE: [xmca] Honestly....

This feels a bit like a chicken and egg question - should we even be expecting to find a 'germ' of social abilities which will blossom on its own? Isn't it precisely the fact that human parents (and others) have somehow acquired a disposition to 'summon the child to interaction' which makes humans most different from other species? Chimps and parrots raised in environments where they are summoned to interaction become significantly different from chimps and parrots raised by chimps and parrots. The habit of taking an interest in what babies and children do may not be genetically predetermined but more culturally mediated - in other words, we are able to become what we become because our parents grew up surrounded by people who grew up surrounded by people who .... There seems to be sufficient evidence that this cultural historical chain can quite easily be broken. Kohlberg's 'a solitary chimpanzee is not a chimpanzee' doesn't quite work for humans because solitary enculturated human beings can carry culture in their heads but only if they have been exposed to cultural tools in use, but we don't need the forbidden experiment to know that a socially isolated baby will not blossom into the same sort of creature as will a baby who is surrounded by doting adults.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: 26 April 2010 22:33
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Honestly....

On Apr 26, 2010, at 9:52 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

> even the tendency to engage in interaction is acquired only because other human beings around the child "summon" the child to interaction.

Andy, I wouldn't say this statement is incorrect, but I don't think it is the whole story. Here is the abstract of a new paper:


Human Nature: A Comparative Overview
Hogh-Olesen, Henrik
Journal of Cognition and Culture (ISSN: 1567-7095); Volume 10, No. 1-2, pp. 59-84(26); April 2010

The differences and similarities between human and non-human animals are constantly up for discussion and an overview is needed. Four central fields of behaviour related to (1) complex symbolic activities, (2) tool making and tool use, (3) culture and social transmission and (4) sociality and morality, are surveyed and comparatively analysed to identify particular human characteristics. Data from a broad range of sciences are brought together to introduce light and shade into the picture. The differences found inside field four are especially striking. Humans are "ultra-social". Evolution seems to have favoured a more collaborative kind of sociality in our species, and features like other-regarding preferences, large scale cooperation with non-kin, and strangers as well as third-party sanctions, appear to be derived properties of humans that have evolved after Homo and Pan diverged._______________________________________________
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