“Inter-objectivity,” the shared world
Intersubjective engagements are very often mediated via technologies, objects, words and symbols that allow for an extension of interaction beyond the immediate here-and-now. These forms of extended interactions are crucial for the unfolding of social reality and for the identification and definition of social and cultural groups. They have so far received limited attention in embodied approaches to intersubjectivity. Embodied subjects do not interact with one another in an otherwise dematerialized vacuum. Predominant views in psychology set up a stark division between “folk physics” and “folk psychology,” the first concerned with our understanding of things, and the second with our understanding of other people. And yet objects are physical and social, even semiotic. The ability to creatively engage in mediated intersubjectivity is key to human interaction and it seems that there are specific ways that this engages neuronal processes. There is a strong need to develop conceptual frameworks and research methodologies to examine empirically such forms of interactions. Mediation through jointly-constructed significant objects is prevalent in play. Embodied accounts of play have focused on the meaning-transformation possibilities of sensorimotor engagements and manipulation of significant objects. Thus, concrete material objects acquire a pretend role within a frame of meaning established by the players themselves. Accordingly, “make believe” relies crucially on the combined similarity and difference between two situations, one concrete, tied to physical events, the other in terms of manipulated meaning. Abstraction in this activity increases with age as playful objects acquire their meaning (as spaceships, animals, etc.) through similarities that are mostly given by the child’s own use of gestural schemas and less by the objects themselves. Thus, play is an inherently active, self-structuring activity of meaning creation through participation leading to complex modes of abstract sense making and to joint construction of meaningful scenarios and constellations of objects.
- To study mediated intersubjectivity by means of behavioural and neuroimaging approaches investigating the understanding and the interactive co-construction of objects and material symbols.
- To develop an embodied account of play as a self-structuring activity based on participatory transformations of the significance of sensorimotor engagements with the world.
- To investigate how mediated interactions may facilitate learning and co-construction of shared mental and physical worlds.