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Re: Lear sigismund

Posted by vwoolf on August 18, 2010, at 1:49:03

In reply to Lear, posted by sigismund on August 17, 2010, at 17:51:17

I read an interesting paper recently on the relationship between language and the development of self-agency, and seeing these quotes from Lear reminded me of it and made me wonder if Lear's language could be seen to develop in this sense through the action of the play. Or any other character in any other book for that matter, it doesn't have to be Lear.

The author (Knox) describes the developmental stages as follows:

1. Physical agency - an awareness that actions produce changes in the physical environment.
2. Social agency - actions produce behavioural and emotional mirroring responses in other people.
3. Teleological agency - sense of purpose, actions seen as goal directed. Capacity to choose action to bring about desired outcome. Intention not yet recognised as separate from action. (I think maybe Lear is at this level when he asks his daughters to confess their love for him? Language at this level is often very concrete, as in the curses you cite above).
4. Intentional agency - recognition of intentions as distinct from actions. Actions are seen as caused by prior intentions and actions. Actions can change mental states. (Perhaps this is where Cordelia is in her response?)
5. Representational agency - actions seen as caused by intentions which are also recognised as mental processes. Mind is represented to itself, so intentions are not just means to an end, but mental states in themselves. (Or is Cordelia here?)
6. Autobiographical self - organisation of memories as personally experiences, linked to self-representations and awareness of personal history.

I think we often function at different developmental levels in our daily lives and particularly in therapy. I certainly do, and it's interesting to watch how my language changes accordingly. What do you think?




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