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3V0309.02 Emergence of the Pure Point: pointing and eating: 11/27/78;

As we discussed Peggy’s experiments with her grandmother at the dinner table, when Peggy pointed with her forefinger alone, I remarked to Edie that such an action was what Bruner called “a pure point” and explained our argument at DSRE awhile back. In this context, Gretchen mentioned that though now Peggy points with two fingers, in this specific case her pointing had been preceded by using the forefinger to poke about in her mouth in an attempt to remove an unwanted bit of food. Gretchen added that this use of her fore finger was characteristic, much more common than poking about with several fingers or her right hand in her mouth.

Relevance: Can’t “the pure point” emerge as a melding of diverse actions under social direction thus: as finer sight control is achieved, with the digits of the later state more useful as a general probe, the refinement might proceed by discriminating one finger (the forefinger) from the cluster of digits — this pattern would show the sudden appearance of the pure point; alternately, the discrimination might be more balanced, the digits-as-probes splitting into two groups of two – this is seen in Peggy’s “impure point.” Getting solid bits of food out of the mouth is an activity which might generally favor using only one finger (it fits between gum and cheek better than the fist) in the most propitious circumstance, i.e. where the sensitive and knowledge based directions of behavior and interpretations of feedback are richest — in the mouth. If the mouth is the crucible in which digit control is developed and refined, its recognition is socially witnessed by its application, i.e. by its use in pointing. If we witness a new skill of single-finger action developed in poking around with food bit in the mouth transferred to probing behavior or to object indication, we are using a socially witnessed observation to notice an extension from a much more intrinsic area of experience. Isn’t it sensible to think that the use of the forefinger to point would be not merely witnessed but even directed by social examples?

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