University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Zangwill Club > Conative and Emotional Psychobiology: Evidence from infancy and developmental neuroscience on the purposes and values of human cognition.

Conative and Emotional Psychobiology: Evidence from infancy and developmental neuroscience on the purposes and values of human cognition.

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Descriptive, rather than experimental, studies of prospective control in infants’ movements and their intentional and emotional adjustments to circumstances, bring evidence that a whole body self-aware consciousness is innate. This ‘implicit’ human vitality and awareness is immediately responsive to human expressions. The infant mind is capable of joining in regulation of intersubjective ‘projects’ or ‘propositions’ of human body movement from immediately after birth, and is soon able to participate as an actor in proto-conversations or games that give pleasure to adults. The development of a theory of the generation of communicative conation and emotion, as in Malloch’s ‘communicative musicality’, requires consideration of phenomena that the ‘cognitive revolution’ and symbolic models of ‘explicit’ representation have failed to take into account. Psychology has both practical and moral responsibility, especially in education, therapy and social justice, for scientific understanding of the natural phenomena of personal experience and of the primary intentions and feelings of interpersonal or social life and cooperation. I will outline a theory of sensuous semiotics for cultural learning that precedes the acquisition of skill in the arts and in the informative communications of language in all its forms, and I will attempt to relate this core human self and its adaptations for communication to principal features of prenatal and postnatal development of the body and brain.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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