Becoming Human

From pointing gestures to syntax

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What do the pointing gesture, the imitation of new complex motor patterns, the evocation of absent objects and the grasping of others’ false beliefs all have in common? Apart from being (one way or other) involved in the language, they all would share a demanding requirement – a second mental centre within the subject. This redefinition of the simulationism is extended in the present book in two directions. Firstly, mirror-neurons and, likewise, animal abilities connected with the visual field of their fellows, although they certainly constitute important landmarks, would not require this second mental centre. Secondly, others’ beliefs would have given rise not only to predicative communicative function but also to pre-grammatical syntax. The inquiry about the evolutionary-historic origin of language focuses on the cognitive requirements on it as a faculty (but not to the indirect causes such as environmental changes or greater co-operation), pays attention to children, and covers other human peculiarities as well, e.g., symbolic play, protodeclaratives, self-conscious emotions, and interactional or four-hand tasks.

Subjects: Gesture Studies; Consciousness research; Cognitive psychology; Evolution of language

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Sevilla

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