Starting from Scratch: The Origin and Development of Expression, Representation and Symbolism in Human and Non-Human Primates

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-03-15
  • Publisher: Psychology Pres

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This book compares the beginning of symbolic thought in human infancy with that of our close primate relatives, the chimpanzees. The author investigates the precursors of symbolism by studying the actions and interactions of a small group of these intelligent, non-human primates who live in Singapore Zoo. Drawing upon his years of detailed observations, Matthews offers an in-depth analysis and interpretation of chimp behaviour to present an unprecedented account of the beginnings of symbolic thought. The book shows that the actions the chimpanzees perform have structural and semantic similarities with the actions of emergent expression and representation we find in human infancy. Of great importance is the finding that chimpanzee mark-making activity is not an artefact of human interference, but part of chimpanzee culture. Young chimpanzees seem to be introduced to acts of pretence and imagination by older and more experienced ones and taught the rudiments of expression, representation and symbolism. The implications for our understanding of symbolism, language, art and education are enormous, as are those about our origins and our place within nature. The book is written in an accessible style for both specialist and non-specialist readers, and illustrated with the author'"s drawings and photographs.

Author Biography

John Matthews is an artist and educator. He has taught all age groups from nursery children to university level, at institutions including Goldsmiths Art School and Goldsmiths Faculty of Education at the University of London, and the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University; Singapore. His main research area has been early symbolism in very young children; more recently he has become involved in studying the precursors of symbolic thought in non-human primates.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. ix
Forewordp. xii
Introductionp. xiv
Expression, representation and symbolismp. 1
Genesisp. 28
Spontaneously generated expressive structurep. 40
Structural principles: Modification, variation and extension of First Generation Actionsp. 67
The meaning of the moving handp. 71
Directions and locationsp. 79
The end of the linep. 90
Repetition and variation upon a structural themep. 107
The giving of meaningp. 122
Sentences in the skyp. 128
Point-of-arrival and moment-of-impactp. 139
Helping handsp. 151
Shape, form and symmetryp. 160
Empathy and imaginationp. 179
Dialoguep. 187
Dynamic-structurep. 191
Continuous-rotationp. 200
In a spin: Continuous-rotation continuedp. 208
Bottoms-up: Script-violationp. 226
Rotation around an axisp. 230
Rhythmp. 238
A new kind of desirep. 248
Deep structurep. 252
The imagep. 258
Shapes of things to comep. 268
The dynamic knotp. 282
Drawing and writingp. 296
Descriptionp. 304
The scratchp. 311
Agonp. 313
Dying slavep. 316
Sack-cloth and ashesp. 318
Ida drawsp. 341
Conclusionp. 340
Referencesp. 356
Author Indexp. 363
Subject indexp. 366
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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