Abstract According to Michael Tomasello humans cannot help to be informative. Apes, like chimps, do not point at each other, only humans do so in order to attract attention, i.e. to (get) help, play and share experiences. In shared cooperative activities, individual rationality is transformed into social rationality. A feeling of ‘we-ness’ is being born, a ‘we’ intentionality. It is Tomasello’s claim that in shared cooperative activities, the collaborators must first all be mutually responsive to each other’s intentional states. In The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (Harvard University Press 1999) he states that human infants are very social from the moment they are born, if not before, and that intention reading and human beings’ inborn capability to identify with conspecifics are the clues to the unique human interaction and joint attention. The four theses of this article are: the idea of the prosocial nature of the infant lacks convincing arguments; Tomasello reflects and honours the Zeitgeist (i.e. the hope that we will see a scientific shift away from predominant methodological individualism towards more ‘social’ and ‘emphatic’ ways of thinking); his concepts of language as a tool and linguistic interaction as a derived form of pointing gestures are very limited; and he underestimates the power and ‘nature’ of unforeseen events. Social synchronisation – creates the possibility for joint attention and not the intention reading. New forms of social interaction do not spring from cognitive intention reading processes inside the brain. Humans have certain biological predispositions, but they cannot explain joint attention patterns.
Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology, 2014, Vol 5, Issue 2, p. 257-269