Pointing the finger

Photo by Flickr user Adam Crowe. Click for sourceA brief yet intriguing description of a talk on pointing, by the ever versatile neuroscientist and philosopher Ray Tallis at the recent Hay Literary Festival.

A spellbinding hour with philosopher and self-confessed “many-layered anorak” Raymond Tallis on the subject of pointing. Yes, sticking your finger in the air and directing it at an object. It is, he argued, one of the attributes that mark us out as human beings with a sense of ourselves and others in a shared space: no other animal, including pointers and chimps, can use pointing fully. He reflected on its use for babies as a staging post towards acquiring language; and noted that in autistic children there is often an absence of pointing. He talked about pointing and power: the pointing that marks some unfortunate from a crowd and summons them to who-knows-what; the Malcolm Tucker-esque jabbing of the air that is tantamount to “a one-fingered punching at the self”. Then there is the disembodied, absent, generalised pointing of the fingerpost, which has “the ghost of intention about it”.

Link to description in The Guardian (via @Matthew_Broome)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s