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RE: [xmca] Origin of infant communication

Another (older) book which makes a similar case for a direct 'getting' of intersubjectivity, unmediated by what might be described as more cognitive processes, is Peter Hobson's 'The Cradle of Thought'. Hobson uses comparisons between chimpanzees, normally developing children and children with autism to argue that one of the major differences in the social experiences of autistic children is that although they may be able to work out what other people's expressions, intonation, gestures etc. reveal about their inner processes, they have to work this out, whereas normally developing (or 'neurotypical') children have a much more immediate knowledge - akin to empathy and mirror neuron responses. Interestingly, one of Hobson's experiments involved asking children to 'read' STILL photographs of faces showing emotional expressions (sometimes upside down, sometimes showing only eyes) even though, I would argue, the ability to read photographs and the ability to read moving faces would seem to be very different kinds of skills.

All the best,


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Larry Purss [lpurss@shaw.ca]
Sent: 30 April 2010 14:32
To: Activity eXtended Mind, Culture,
Subject: [xmca] Origin of infant communication

Avis and Mike and Martin [and others on the infant theme]

What are the origins of infant engagement? I  want to give some ideas from Vasudevi Reddy. She writes
"A second-person approach [being addressed by a YOU] seems not only explain infant behavior better than either a first person {I position} or a third person "spectator" approach. It also changes the lens through which we PERCEIVE the problem of other minds that is expressed in much of the developmental literature. [that is, as a spectatorial process of observation of mere behavior across a gap]  The important difference between a 2nd person approach and a 1st person approach is that the emphasis here is NOT on recognition of the SIMILARITY to self of other peoples acts, but, crucially, of the EXPERIENCE of a RECIPROCAL RESPONSE to the others acts. The gap between minds becomes hard to find in this re-embodiment and this re-embedding.
Infants are capable of entering into dialogue [recognition and response] with other people remarkably early in life. {I would add this dialogical process EXPERIENCED recognition and response continues to INFORM communication throughout the lifespan}.

Reddy points out many philosophers take this 2nd person perspective [or lens]: W. James called it "being noticed", Bahktin, the recognition of an "answering consciousness", Hegel, the awareness of recognition, and Buber, the experience of the I-thou relation.

This 2nd person concept refers to more than just "interpersonal attraction", more than just a recognition of a SIMILARITY of another person to the self, and more than just an INFERENCE from observation of movements.
THE YOU is radically implicated in a 2nd person stance.


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