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Language, Mind-reading, and Cooperation


lunes 7 de septiembre de 2009

Language, Mind-reading and Cooperation


En el foro On the Human, Sarah B. Hrdy expone la teoría de su libro Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary History of Mutual Understanding (2009), en el que defiende el papel evolutivo que ha jugado en los humanos, y en el proceso de humanización, la necesidad de cuidar colectivamente a los bebés. Enfatiza así el papel evolutivo de amigas, abuelas, y otros tipos aloparentales en el desarrollo del pensamiento intersubjetivo.

Peter Ellison resume la argumentación de Hrdy como sigue:

Hrdy's unique contribution is to argue that novel conditions of rearing, conditions that involve many caretakers beyond the biological mother, may have provided the selective context in which enhanced intersubjectivity originally evolved. All the precursors exist in other apes, especially chimpanzees, Hrdy points out, yet enhanced intersubjectivity may be what set humans on our own particular cognitive trajectory. Having previously, in
Mother Nature, argued for the importance of allomothering in humans, to the point of categorizing us as 'cooperative breeders' (a special category to students of animal behavior), Hrdy has already prepared the ground for helping us to appreciate the special developmental context for human (and proto-human) infants. She points to a rich body of research that documents the emergence of intersubjectivity in infants as part of the exquisite choreography of interactions between babies and their caretakers. The complexity introduced by multiple caretakers, she argues, provides a particularly intense selective environment for honing intersubjectivity as it develops. It is a powerful, well-supported argument.

Derek Bickerton objeta que esta teoría no hace mucho por explicar el origen del lenguaje, que es lo que nos hace propiamente humanos. Yo comento a continuación:

There are all kinds of feedback processes in human evolution, so that perhaps it makes little sense to try to single out one specific cause or ingredient as the one which made humans human—but then reasoning demands that you should analyze these processes, instead of just pointing to the whole interacting lot. In this sense, Hrdy’s allomothering theory of sociality is of course illuminating and welcome. It may also provide a significant contribution to the theory of mind-reading, and once we have a primate with mind-reading abilities and the cooperative social structure required by this mode of child rearing we get much closer to defining human specificity. Of course there are many other ingredients left unaccounted for. Derek Bickerton points out that this does not account for the appearance of linguistic meaning and displaced reference, and indeed it doesn’t. This element too is crucial (perhaps “the” crucial one, pace myself) in articulating the communicative world that we recognize as human—although of course ‘human’ is a fuzzy concept, as it is defined by kinship and a potentiality for communication, not only by actual communicative interaction. One wonders though, if we keep on isolating ingredients in the human, what would be the value of an ability for displaced reference and meaning without any concomitant advanced abilities in mind-reading. Perhaps that might leave us as no more than upgraded bees, as against Bickerton’s upgraded bonobos! Human communication seems to require both language (meaning and reference) and mind-reading—that is, not just “knowing what someone says” but also “knowing what they actually mean”, or what they are trying to do with words. Social intelligence is so much an ingredient of language that it is actually the (moving) ground on which language is built.

Leyéndonos la mente: Dos artículos sobre narratología cognitiva

Miércoles, 09 de Septiembre de 2009 14:20. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Evolución

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