We argue that analogical reasoning, particularly Gentner's (1983, 2010) structure-mapping theory, provides an integrative theoretical framework through which we can better understand the development of symbol use. Analogical reasoning can contribute both to the understanding of others’ intentions and the establishment of correspondences between symbols and their referents, two crucial components of symbolic understanding. We review relevant research on the development of symbolic representations, intentionality, comparison, and similarity, and demonstrate how structure-mapping theory can shed light on several ostensibly disparate findings in the literature. Focusing on visual symbols (e.g., scale models, photographs, and maps), we argue that analogy underlies and supports the understanding of both intention and correspondence, which may enter into a reciprocal bootstrapping process that leads children to gain the prodigious human capacity of symbol use.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Topics in Cognitive Science|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2017|