Semantic Domains Involved in Children’s Development

Levels of Intersubjectivity

Using conceptual spaces as my framework, I now trace the development of semantic knowledge in children by identifying and describing the domains that are required for various basic forms of communication. A central hypothesis is that many of these domains are tightly connected to the development of intersubjectivity (also called theory of mind). In this context, I use the term intersubjectivity to mean the sharing and representing of others’ mentality. Following Gardenfors (2008), I break intersubjectivity down into five capacities: representing the emotions of others (empathy), representing the attention of others, representing the desires of others, representing the intentions of others, and representing the beliefs and knowledge of others, an ordering arguably supported by phylogenetic and ontogenetic evidence (see Gardenfors, 2003, 2008). These five components are exploited so naturally in adult human communication that their importance often escapes attention.

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