Volume 4, 2012
Michael D. Barber
The Cartesian Residue in Intersubjectivity and Child Development
This paper argues that Husserl’s account of adult recognition of another allows for immediate, noninferential, analogical access to the other, though one
does not experience the other’s experience as s/he does. The passive-associative processes at work in adult recognition of another make possible infant syncretic sociability and play a role in constituting the infant’s self prior to reflection. The reflective perspective of the psychologist and philosopher discovers that such infant experiences, though at first seeming indistinguishable from their parents’ experience, belong to their own stream of consciousness and constitute a non-eliminable Cartesian residue and an inescapable solitude of identity. Finally new research in joint attention reveals that the infant self is constituted not only by passive experience but also by active movements evident in the infant’s attempt to shape the direction of adults in joint attention, however this may fall short of high-level reflection.