Imitation, skill learning, and conceptual thought: an embodied, developmental approach
It will be the goal of my talk to offer a strategy for moving from imitation to conceptual thought. After accepting that imitation plays a vital role in accounting for the facility with which human beings acquire abilities, I argue that successful task performance is notidentical to intelligent action. To move beyond first-order behavioral success, I suggest that the orientation that humans have toward the means of intentional actions, i.e., the orientation required for imitation, also drives us to perfect our skills in a way that produces fertile ground for florid thought. Specifically, I argue that the meanscentric orientation, when inverted onto itself, motivates skill refinement and, as such, allows us to reach the intermediate level of cognitive development. It is at this level, through the individuation and recombination of action elements, that we see a basic syntax of action arise and, with it, the characteristic features of intelligence emerge.