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Development of human consciousness

Trevarthen, Colwyn and Delafield-Butt, Jonathan (2017) Development of human consciousness. In: Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107103412

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Abstract

Recent research that uses refined methods of tracing infant’s movements to determine how they are coordinated and integrated proves they are directed in selective ways to take in and adjust to information from the senses about the present environment. It shows that the circumstances and objects of the infant’s actions are evaluated by the infant as ‘good’ (attractive and rewarding or pleasurable), or ‘bad’ (frightening and avoided, or resisted). The manifestations of purposeful, expectant and evaluated consciousness are identified as proof of Self-awareness, or ‘subjectivity’. Studies of the imitative and provocative actions of newborn infants in response to the behaviours of other persons who give close attention to them prove also that there is an innate Other-awareness, or ‘inter-subjectivity’, that attends to and sympathises with expressive movements of a person (Trevarthen, 2001; Kugiumutzakis and Trevarthen, 2015).