Review of Naomi Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds [Book Review]

Mind 115 (460):1126-9 (2006)
Abstract
You and I are watching a spider crawl across the carpet. We are both aware of the spider, and aware that both are so aware. We are jointly attending to it. This collection of essays addresses a bewildering array of questions that arise regarding the notion of joint attention. How should joint attention be characterised in adults? In particular, how can we articulate the sense in which it is plausible to say that nothing is hidden from either participant in cases of joint attention? What is the relationship between joint attention and the much discussed phenomenon of common, or mutual, knowledge? What account should be given of the development of the capacity for joint attention in children (and in non-human primates)? At what age is it correct to say that children are engaging in episodes of full blown joint attention? Relatedly, what is the relation between joint attention and pointing behaviour, gaze following and mutual affect regulation? Why is it that autistic children appear to exhibit a joint attention deficiency, and what might this tell us about autism, or about joint attention itself? Does the capacity for joint attention presuppose an understanding of the notion of attention, or more generally a subject of experience, and if so what is the relation between that understanding and the types of behaviour associated with joint attention? More generally, how does joint attention relate to our understanding of others? Finally, is the capacity for joint attention pivotal for the development of linguistic communication, or perhaps even a sense of objectivity—of the mind independence of the world?
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Christopher Peacocke (2005). Joint Attention: Its Nature, Reflexivity, and Relation to Common Knowledge. In Naomi M. Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds. Oxford University Press. 298.
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