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RE: [xmca] Origin of infant communication

Hey Rod:

Your post got me thinking about the "theory of mind" regarding autism and 
the belief that people who are autistic lack the understanding that others 
have beliefs, attitudes and in behavior separate from the autistic person. 
 The landmark study has the autistic in the room with someone else with a 
ball and a cap.  The autistic person is asked to leave the room and when 
they return the ball is gone.  The autistic person is asked where the ball 
has gone and without fail they do not know where it is.  Then when the hat 
is lifted and the ball is revealed the autistic person cannot even answer 
how the ball got under the hat.  They lack the ability to place abilities 
onto the other person apart from themselves.  That said here is a link to 
a perspective written by a person with autism regarding the "theory of 



Rod Parker-Rees <R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
04/30/2010 12:14 PM
Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

        To:     "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
        Subject:        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 
THE YOU is radically implicated in a 2nd person stance.


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