There is an interesting article in Slate today about the role an infant's pointing plays in learning how to bond with others. It seems particularly important when an infant points at an object, not because it wants something to be done, but simply to share awareness of that object with another person.
Over the last decade, a series of studies out of the Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have made a very good
argument for marveling at your pointing infant. A group of psychologists
there have documented that infants, beginning at around 1 year of age, point and
react to other people pointing in remarkably sophisticated ways. Babies point to
refer to events in the past and the future. They point to refer to things that
are no longer there. They can figure out, when an adult points across the room
toward a group of objects, what exactly the adult is gesturing toward (the toy
they’ve previously played with, say). They can deduce that, by pointing, an
adult is trying to communicate something specific (find that toy hidden in that
bucket). And not least of all, babies point because they want to share their
experience of the world—that puppy—with someone else.
I have only just seen the study, but it seems enormously suggestive of why humans seek out religion as well. There is a world of human experience that does not exist in the physical world, but only in the intuited “world” of our inter-subjectivity. From one angle, such experiences are ethereal wisps of our imaginations, mere vapors of vain existence. But, from another angle, such intuitions are expressions of the universe as real and as natural as a beaver’s dam. Far from being an escape from existence, such worship would be an ephemeral expression some deeper more lasting energy, like the glow of a firefly expresses a world of energy we cannot see except in such incarnated form. What if communal prayer were understood, not as an attempt to cajole an invisible celestial overlord to grant our wishes, but instead as communal art putting our deepest subliminal ties into something we can share? What if worship is not flattery directed at a divine being, but instead an attempt to “point” at being itself, and to share a moment of gratitude that we are here at all?
But you’re not a parent, right Jim? So you never had that part of your heart opened. You don’t know, and you never will. P.S. “Inter-Subjectivity” is not a word. Grow up. This reads like undergraduate pot party babble.
Help me understand what ticked you off about the blog. There isn’t enough content in your insults to figure out the point you are trying to make.
Ted, also, just so you know, “intersubjectivity” is a word used quite a bit in philosophy and in psychology. I first learned it studying Husserl’s phenomenolgy not at a pot party. Never been to one of those.
Right. So you agree with me. “Inter-Subjectivity” is not a word. “Intersubjectivity” is. Look it up. It’s like writing “interdenominational” as “Inter-Denominational.” You can’t spell. Admit that. Be an honest person. And admit: “I am a 60-year-old man who never had a child. Also, I can’t spell. And I’m not a parent, but you should listen to me.” Because…why? BTW, you DO sound like an undergraduate pothead. Who brags, “I first learned it studying Husserl’s phenomenolgy.” Oooooh–we’re so impressed. Jim studied PHENOMENOLOGY. Unlike the rest of us mortals…who actually took undergraduate philosophy classes
How is your marriage?
How are your kids?
You are correct that I am divorced. But you didn’t answer my question. What has you so upset? I see the names you are calling me, but I’m not hearing what your concern is.
Ted, if you have had philosophy courses then you know attacks against the person are not legitimate. What about the post itself bothers you?