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RE: [xmca] Honestly....

Just a short example to throw into the discussion on what an infant is or is not born with....

What of children adopted at birth? Many of these children (then adults) can often have nuances and behaviours that match the parent, even though they have not spent much time (often less than a day) with their biological parents - I have read of family 'finding' a relative years later and being surprised by the characteristics that they obviously inherited genetically. 


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Rod Parker-Rees [R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk]
Sent: 27 April 2010 17:09
To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture,  Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Honestly....

Andy - as to what children are born with - what of the enculturation that proceeds before birth? In the last months of pregnancy the foetus is literally immersed in the life of its mother, absorbing rhythms of movement, speech, waking and sleeping, even feeding and drinking. In 'the West', and fairly recently, we have exaggerated the identification of the moment of birth with the separation of the 'individual' child from the mother but at other times and still in other places this transition is much slower as the newborn baby continues to spend much of its time held close to its mother. Do we have any studies on the early development of deaf blind children who are born into this world of touch and contact?

It may be that there is a developmental point when we have absolutely nothing but I think it is difficult to argue that this is true of the newborn child. Of course if children are isolated from the person with whom they have developed some form of proto-familiarity they are less likely to be able to continue to develop their ability to engage actively with their environment but this does not mean that they had nothing to develop!

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 27 April 2010 04:31
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Honestly....

Martin, have a look at this book, around p 147-8 and around p  238. The claim is that human children are not born with any exploratory drive; even this has to be "trained." Human beings certainly have a propensity towards collaboration, joint attention and so on, but these have to be drawn out and trained, or we have absolutely nothing.


Martin Packer wrote:
> 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:
> Martin
> 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
> Abstract:
> 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._______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
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An Interdisciplinary Theory of Activity:

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