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Re: [xmca] Honestly....


Thanks for the Levontin, which I will read with pleasure. But on this issue I'm drawing more on my own experience than what I read in books. After I finished my undergraduate degree I didn't want to get a PhD, so I looked for work around London and managed to get a research job that involved conducting observations of neonatal behavior at birth and an assessment (designed by pediatrician Berry Brazelton) of their capabilities during the first weeks of life (we repeated it at intervals from about 3 hours to 6 weeks of age). I am attaching a photo I took of one of our research participants to illustrate why I think it's not quite right to say that children must 'acquire' the tendency to engage in interaction. To talk of the child being 'summoned' to interaction works better for me, and obviously children need to be drawn out (but 'trained'? Not so sure about that!). I forget the exact age of this child, but he was about 3 days old. My students are always surprised to see how attentive and intent such a young baby can be.


TIFF image

On Apr 26, 2010, at 10:30 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

> 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.
> Andy
> 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._______________________________________________
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> -- 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
> An Interdisciplinary Theory of Activity: http://www.brill.nl/scss
> [The attachment not-born-road.pdf has been manually removed]
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