Re: neonatal imitation

Bill Benzon (
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:42:36 -0400

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:42:36 -0400
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: Re: neonatal imitation

Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:

> So, my question is: is this imitation some genetically encoded feature or is it
> just a possibility which emerges from our capacity to better instruct each
> other, a capacity which in turn emerges from our linguistic capacities which in
> turn can be explained as a consequence of being musical, ...
> I'd prefer the latter explanation because then everything boils down to our
> speech capacities again. This is more consistent with my world view.
> The emphasis on our innate baby imitation capacities however seems an effort to
> underpin the idea that there is something truly special about humans which made
> imitation and memes possible.

Neonatal imitation would cedrtainly seem to be innate. But I can't imagine it
being much more than a "seed" for later imitation, where the later imitation calls
on linguistic and linguistically-facilitated cognitive capacities.

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