CFP: Humana.Mente: Pointing - Where embodied cognition meets the symbolic mind

Submission deadline: August 31, 2012

Topic areas


Editor: Massimiliano Lorenzo Cappuccio (UAEU, Neurophilosophy – Università degli Studi di Milano)

Pointing represents a crucial acquisition in the development of higher-order cognitive abilities. As action, it is rooted in relatively basic cognitive processes coordinating visual stimulation and motor execution. As the prototypical vehicle of joint attention, it also predicts the emergence of advanced forms of intersubjectivity and lays the bases for social cognition. Pointing’s key role in cognitive development raises important issues about both the appearance of pointing in phylogenesis and its role in the evolution of earliest forms of symbolic and cultural activity. Primatologists investigate whether the declarative function of pointing is human-specific while, in cognitive semiotics, it is hotly debated whether pointing’s evolution may have scaffolded non-natural codes of communication for symbolic referencing.

This issue of Humana.Mente will address the following questions: 1) What is the role played by pointing in the acquisition of pre-linguistic, proto-declarative forms of communication? We are interested in how an agent’s effector primarily serving direct interaction can be exploited and reused as a normative model for coordinated, contemplative attention. 2) How does pointing reorganize our spatial experience to allow public representation of distal, absent, or abstract entities? According to different theories of motor intentionality, pointing archetypally discloses a “spatiality of position” (metric coordinates), as opposite to a “spatiality of situation” (opportunities for action). 3) How do embodied and culturally acquired elements of cognition combine in pointing’s unique symbolic and representational function? Both enactive and extended modalities of intelligence could be involved in its production and understanding, and its development can be modeled within either a representationist and inferentialist approach or rather an embodied and interactionist one.

Other topics of discussion may include:

  • Pointing as a vehicle of joint attention and secondary intersubjectivity in infancy;
  • the evolution of indicative pointing in greater apes and humans;
  • indexical, iconic, and symbolic interpretations of pointing;
  • pointing and the embodied roots of linguistic meaning: deixis, ostension, and reference;
  • gaze following, social attention, and the emergence of declarative modalities of communication;
  • spatial representation in peripersonal space, and motor intentionality;
  • the role of pointing in social cognition and its relation to mindreading;
  • pointing in sign languages.

Invited contributions by:

Nathalie George & José Luis Ulloa Fulgeri (CNRS Paris)

Heikki Hikaeimo (Macquarie)

Sotaro Kita (Birmingham) & Mingyuan Chu (Max Planck Nijmegen)

Richard Meyer (Uni. Texas at Austin)

Richard Moore (Max Planck Leipzig)

Bence Nanay (Antwerp; Cambridge) & Angelica Kauffman (Edinburgh)

Laura Sparaci (CNR Roma)

We also invite to submit reviews of recent books (published after 2008), and commentaries of articles and books (also published before 2009) related to the topics of the Issue.

Please send a pdf or a document in word format suitable for blind review to:

[email protected]

Deadline for submissions: August 31st, 2012

Notification of acceptance: December 1st, 2012

Final version due: February 1st, 2013

Publication: April 2013

[email protected]

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