Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 217–236 | Cite as

Feeling good vibrations in dialogical relations



I engage phenomenological and empirical perspectives on dialogical relations in infancy in a mutually enlightening and challenging relation. On the one hand, the empirical contributions provide evidence for the primacy of first-to-second person interrelatedness in human sociality, as opposed to the claim of primary syncretism heralded by Merleau-Ponty, and also in distinction from the ego-alter ego model routinely used in phenomenology. On the other hand, phenomenological considerations regarding the lived affective experience of dialogical relatedness enrich and render intelligible the psychological accounts of dialogue in terms of observable behavior. Phenomenological and empirical perspectives on dialogical relatedness thus combine to offer an affectively charged and conversationally patterned notion of primary intersubjectivity in the I-you mode.


Conversational patterns Infancy  I-you relations Language 



I wish to thank the editor of this issue, Brady Heiner, and the anonymous reviewers, for helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this essay.


  1. Bakeman, Roger, and Josephine Brown. 1977. Behavioral dialogues: An approach to the assessment of mother-infant interaction. Child Development 48: 195–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bateson, Mary Catherine. 1975. Mother-infant exchanges: The epigenesist of conversational interaction. In Developmental psycholinguistics and communication disorders. Annals of the New York academy of sciences 263, ed. Doris Aaronson and Robert W. Rieber. New York: New York Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  3. Beebe, Beatrice, Danie Stern, and Joseph Jaffe. 1979. The kinesic rhythm of mother-infant interactions. In Of speech and time: Temporal patterns in interpersonal contexts, ed. Aron W. Siegman and Stanley Feldstein. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Beebe, Beatrice, Joseph Jaffe, Stanley Feldstein, K. Mays, and Diane Alson. 1985. Interpersonal timing: The application of an adult dialogue model to mother-infant vocal and kinesic interactions. In Social perception in infants, ed. Tiffany Field and Nathan Fox. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar
  5. Beebe, Beatrice, Diane Alson, Joseph Jaffe, Stanley Feldstein, and Cynthia Crown. 1988. Vocal congruence in mother-infant play. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 17(3): 245–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassotta, Louis, Stanley Feldstein, and Joseph Jaffe. 1967. The stability and modifiability of individual vocal characteristics in stress and nonstress interviews. Research Bulletin No. 2. New York: The William Alanson White Institute.Google Scholar
  7. Crown, Cynthia. 1991. Coordinated interpersonal timing of vision and voice as a function of interpersonal attraction. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 10(1): 29–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dennett, Daniel. 1991. Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.Google Scholar
  9. Dennett, Daniel. 2001. The Fantasy of First-person Science
  10. Feldstein, Stanley, and Joan Welkowitz. 1978. A chronography of conversation: In defense of an objective approach. In Nonverbal behavior and communication, ed. Aron.W. Siegman and Stanley Feldstein. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  11. Gallagher, Shaun. 2001. The practice of mind: Theory, simulation of primary interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies 8(5–7): 83–108.Google Scholar
  12. Gallagher, Shaun. 2003. Phenomenology and experimental design: Toward a phenomenologically enlightened experimental science. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(9–10): 85–99.Google Scholar
  13. Gallagher, Shaun, and Andrew Meltzoff. 1996. The earliest sense of self and others: Merleau-Ponty and recent developmental studies. Philosophical Psychology 9(2): 213–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guillaume, Paul. 1973. La formation des habitudes chez l’enfant. Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  15. Husserl, Edmund. 1970. Crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology (trans: David Carr). Evanston: Northwestern. Google Scholar
  16. Jaffe, Joseph, and Samuel W. Anderson. 1979. Communication rhythms and the evolution of language. In Of speech and time: Temporal speech patterns in interpersonal contexts, ed. Aron W. Siegman and Stanley Feldstein. Hillsdale: L. Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  17. Jaffe, Joseph, Beatrice Beebe, Stanley Feldstein, Cynthia Crown, and Michael Jasnow. 2001. Rhythms of dialogue in infancy: Coordinated timing in development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 66(2).Google Scholar
  18. Jaffe, Joseph, and Stanley Feldstein. 1970. The rhythms of dialogue. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Jasnow, Michael, and Stanley Feldstein. 1986. Adult-like temporal characteristics of mother-infant vocal interactions. Child Development 57: 754–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kaye, K., and A. Wells. 1980. Mothers’ jiggling and the burst-pause pattern in neonatal sucking. Infant Behavior and Development 3: 29–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lacan, Jacques. 1982. The mirror stage as formative of the function of the i as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. Écrits. W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  22. Lyons, John. 1977. Semantics, Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McNeill, David. 2005. Gesture and thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  24. Meltzoff, Andrew N., and Keith Moore. 1977. Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates. Science 198: 75–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Meltzoff, Andrew N., and Keith Moore. 1989. Imitation in newborn infants: Exploring the range of gestures imitated and the underlying mechanisms. Developmental Psychology 25: 954–962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Meltzoff, Andrew N., and Keith Moore. 1994. Imitation, memory and the representation of persons. Infant Behavior and Development 17: 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1962. Phenomenology of perception. (trans: Colin Smith). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  28. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964. The child’s relations with others. (trans: William Cobb). In The Primacy of Perception. Evanston: Northwestern.Google Scholar
  29. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 2000. Titres et travaux: Project d’enseignement. In Parcours II, 1951–1961. Verdier.Google Scholar
  30. Papousek, H., and M. Papousek. 1979. Early ontogeny of human social interaction. In Human ethology: Claims and limits of a new discipline, ed. Mario von Cranach, Klaus Foppa, W. Lepenies, and D. Ploog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Rochat, Phillipe. 1999. Early social cognition: Understanding others in the first months of life. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  32. Rochat, Phillipe. 2001. Dialogical nature of cognition. In rhythms of dialogue in infancy: Coordinated timing in development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 66(2): 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Spitz, René A. 1963. The evolution of the dialogue. In Drives, affects, and behavior, ed. Max Schur, Vol. 2. New York: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Stawarska, Beata. 2003. Merleau-Ponty in dialogue with the cognitive sciences in light of recent imitation research. Philosophy Today 47(5): 89–99.Google Scholar
  35. Stawarska, Beata. 2004. Anonymity and sociality: The convergence of psychological and philosophical currents in Merleau-Ponty’s ontological theory of intersubjectivity. CHIASMI International 5: 295–309.Google Scholar
  36. Stawarska, Beata. 2007. Persons, pronouns, and perspectives: Linguistic and developmental contributions to dialogical phenomenology. In Folk psychology reassessed, ed. Daniel Hutto and Matthew Ratcliffe. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Stern, Daniel. 1974. Mother and infant at play: The dyadic interaction involving facial, vocal and gaze behaviors. In The effect of the infant on its caregiver, ed. Michael Lewis and Leonard Rosenblum. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  38. Stern, Daniel. 2001. Face-to-face play: Its temporal structure as predictor of socioaffective development. In rhythms of dialogue in infancy: Coordinated timing in development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 66(2): 144–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stern, Daniel, Beatrice Beebe, Joseph Jaffe, and S. Bennett. 1977. The infant’s stimulus world during social interaction. In Studies in mother-infant interaction, ed. H. Rudolph Schaffer. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. Tanz, Christine. 1980. Studies in the acquisition of deictic terms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Trevarthen, Colwyn. 1979. Communication and cooperation in early infancy: A description of primary intersubjectivity. In Before speech: The beginning of human communication, ed. Margaret Bullowa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Trevarthen, Colwyn. 1993. The self born in intersubjectivity: The psychology of an infant communicating. In Ecological and interpersonal knowledge of self, ed. Ulric Neisser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Varela, Francisco. 1996. Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy to the hard problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3: 330–350.Google Scholar
  44. Vygotsky, Lev. 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. In ed. Michael Cole, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Wallon, Henri. 1993. Les origins du caractere chez l’enfant. Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations