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RE: [xmca] moral life of babies

Thanks for this Martin,

The image that came to mind reading your last sentence was of surfing - the child is caught by the wave of an existing culture and swept along with the cultural practices going on around her but it doesn't take long before she is kneeling on her board and then standing up and then carving the wave (I have no personal experience of surfing on actual water!). What may be missing from this analogy, however, is the active concern by certain, local, familiar parts of the wave to keep her afloat.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: 08 May 2010 21:16
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] moral life of babies

Mike has added several names to the list of infancy researchers whose work we need to consider, and I haven't even finished yet with Jean Mandler! Then there are my messages to David about T&L that still need to be completed. So I need to play for time, and to do so I'm attaching yet another 'young' publication, the longitudinal case-study of infant-mother interaction that was accepted as a masters thesis by UCBerkeley, on the condition that I considered it to be officially a failure.

It's written with youthful arrogance (especially the title!), and with too phenomenological a turn of phrase at times. But perhaps people on the list can get their teeth into it and tear off the bits that have little value, and we'll see what's left. Without having read a word of Vygotsky at the time I proposed that "It is possible, perhaps even likely, that it is by observing the effects on others of our utterances that we discover our own intentions, make them conscious, and hence are able to act more deliberately in the future." And I suggested that:

"There is a level of shared meanings that is constantly referred to, and constantly developed; and so the infant's schemes will inevitably take a form that depends not only on her bodily structure (the basis of knowledge for Piaget) but which also reflects the norms, values, expectations, and roles - in short, the practices - of the society she is born into. These social meanings are at first not represented, but simply lived; the infant's bodily dispositions will reflect and express them in an unreflective, preconscious fashion. The 'task', so to speak, for the adults who interact with the infant is to make available to her the shared meanings of their society by making them relevant to her own interests and needs, at the same time redirecting those interests into more mature forms. The child is involved in communication from birth. Her task is not to learn how to begin to communicate, but to learn how to gain mastery of what she is doing already."

What do you think?

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