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From bodily motions to bodily intentions: the perception of bodily activity

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This paper argues that one's perception of another person's bodily activity is not the perception of the mere flexing and bending of that person's limbs, but rather of that person's intentions. It makes its case in three parts. First, it examines what conditions are necessary for children to begin to imitate and assimilate the behavior of other adults and argues that these conditions include the perception of intention. These conditions generalize to adult perception as well. Second, changing methodologies, the paper presents a first person phenomenology of watching another person act which demonstrates that one's own perception is of intentions. The phenomenological analysis of time consciousness is the keystone of this argument. Finally, the paper looks at some recently established facts about infant and child development, and shows that these facts are best explained by thinking that the child is already perceiving intention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-03-01

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