The Role of Embodiment in Intentional Communication
Richard Moore (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)
The standard Gricean model of human communication is typically thought to implicate sophisticated socio-cognitive abilities that preclude its application to accounts of communication in ontogeny and phylogeny. For example, Tomasello (2008), Corballis (2011) and Bar-On (in press) have all argued that although non-human great apes do engage in intentional communication of a kind, they could not entertain the Gricean intentions that are the foundation of human communication. In this paper I argue that apes may act with Gricean intent (or at least something closely resembling it). This is because consideration of the role of embodied action in intentional communication shows Gricean communication to be a cognitively less sophisticated phenomenon than has traditionally been presumed. As such, Grice's analysis of non-natural meaning can serve as an elegant tool in our theorising about the evolution of human communication. With reference to recent work by Wharton, Green, and Bar-On, I also consider further ways in which bodily states can facilitate the production and comprehension of intentional communication.