Do neonates display innate self-awareness? Why neonatal imitation fails to provide sufficient grounds for innate self-and other-awareness

Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):221-238 (2006)
Abstract
Until the 1970s, models of early infancy tended to depict the young child as internally preoccupied and incapable of processing visual-tactile data from the external world. Meltzoff and Moore's groundbreaking studies of neonatal imitation disprove this characterization of early life: They suggest that the infant is cognizant of its external environment and is able to control its own body. Taking up these experiments, theorists argue that neonatal imitation provides an empirical justification for the existence of an innate ability to engage in social communication. Since later imitation is taken as a benchmark for self- and other-awareness, theorists claim that a proto- or primitive self must exist in the infant. This paper takes up the issue of whether or not neonatal imitation does provide us with a ground to argue against developmental accounts that consider self-awareness to be a later acquisition. I argue that the enthusiasm over neonatal imitation is premature. Psychological studies that claim to prove neonatal imitation do not provide sufficient grounds for dismissing alternate philosophical and psychological theories about the self as being a post-birth "event" rather than an intrinsic condition. Therefore, I argue that there is no compelling reason to suppose that we come to the world with a primitive sense of self- or other-awareness.
Keywords *Awareness  *Imitation (Learning)  *Neonatal Period  *Self Perception  *Social Perception
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Joel Smith (2011). Can Transcendental Intersubjectivity Be Naturalised? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (1):91-111.
    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    27 ( #54,506 of 1,088,883 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,661 of 1,088,883 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.