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Reaching, requesting and reflecting

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Abstract

From many contemporary theoretical perspectives, the body and emotions play little role in the development of thinking and consciousness. If emotions are given any part it is in biasing thinking, rather then contributing to cognitive development. This volume, in contrast, presents alternatives to that position. From our perspective, embodied engagement with others – necessarily involving emotions – has a role in structuring the interactional conditions in which the development of thinking occurs. Just the body and emotions, however, are insufficient; the mythical baby isolated on a desert island would have a body and emotions (or at least the potential for their further development), but would not go on to develop human forms of thinking. What is needed is a shared history of routine patterns of interpersonal engagement. The body and emotions are necessary for setting up these forms of interaction and routines in which communication can emerge and then thinking and consciousness. In this sense, the development of human forms of thinking requires a social environment. We draw from Mead the point that self-awareness arises from interacting with others, and thus, self-consciousness is inherently social (Farr 1980; Mead 1909, 1910a, 1910b, 1922, 1934; Morss 1985). Keywords: Infant communication; gestures; social cognition; meaning; G.H. Mead

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