Is 'recognition' in the sense of intrinsic motivational altruism necessary for pre-linguistic communicative pointing?

Heikki Ikaheimo

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Abstract

The concept of recognition (Anerkennung in German) has been in the center of intensive interest and debate for some time in social and political philosophy, as well as in Hegel-scholarship. The first part of the article clarifies conceptually what recognition in the relevant sense arguably is. The second part explores one possible route for arguing that the 'recognitive attitudes' of respect and love have a necessary role in the coming about of the psychological capacities distinctive of persons. More exactly, it explores the possibility that they are necessary in the kind of intersubjective relationship in which normal human infants engage in the pre-linguistic communicative practice of pointing things to others, as described by Michael Tomasello. If an incapacity to participate in the already Gricean communicative practices of pointing makes it also impossible for the infant to learn symbolic communication, and if without the immediately intrinsically motivating other-regarding attitudes of recognition communicative pointing does not get off the ground (at least among the most intelligent animals currently known to exist), then the capacity for recognition may be a decisive difference between humans and their closest non-human relatives. That is, it may be why only human infants, but no other animals, are capable of embarking on a developmental journey that normally leads to full-fledged psychological personhood. If this is so, then the concept of recognition, today mostly discussed in social and political philosophy and Hegel-studies, could turn out to be a very useful tool in cognitive scientific work interested in specifically human forms of social intentionality, cognition, volition and so forth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASCS09
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science
EditorsWayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, John Sutton
Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
PublisherMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
Pages145-153
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780646529189
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009) - Sydney
Duration: 30 Sep 20092 Oct 2009

Conference

ConferenceConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009)
CitySydney
Period30/09/092/10/09

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 by the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, ASCS09 : Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

Keywords

  • altruism
  • helping
  • personhood
  • pointing
  • recognition

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