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Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by…
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Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil (2013)

by Paul Bloom

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2162583,394 (3.53)25
"A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. From Sigmund Freud to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long believed that we begin life as amoral animals. After all, isn't it the parents' role to turn babies into civilized beings who can experience empathy and shame, and override selfish impulses? In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing upon years of original research at his Yale lab, he shows that babies and toddlers can judge the goodness and badness of others' actions; that they act to soothe those in distress; and that they feel guilt, shame, pride, and righteous anger. Yet this innate morality is tragically limited. Our natural strong moral feelings toward those in our own group--same family, same race--are offset by ingrained dislike, even hatred, of those in different groups. Put more simply, we are natural-born bigots. Vivid and intellectually probing, Just Babies argues that through intelligence and creativity we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we are born with. This erudite yet accessible book will captivate readers of Steven Pinker, Philip Zimbardo, and Robert Wright"--"From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget, psychologists have long believed that we begin life as amoral animals. After all, isn't it the role of society--and especially parents--to transform babies from little psychopaths into civilized beings who can experience empathy and shame, and override selfish impulses? In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing upon years of original research at Yale, he shows that babies and toddlers can judge the goodness and badness of others' actions; that they act to soothe those in distress; and that they feel guilt, shame, pride, and righteous anger. Yet this innate morality is tragically limited. Our natural morality extends toward those in our own group, but this is offset by ingrained dislike, even hatred, of those in different groups. Put simply, we are natural-born bigots. Vivid and intellectually probing, Just Babies argues that it's only through our uniquely human capacity for reason that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we are born with. This erudite yet accessible book will captivate readers of Steven Pinker, Philip Zimbardo, and Robert Wright."--… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
There are a few interesting anecdotes here and Bloom is a fairly engaging writer, but I am left shaking my head at the conceit of psychology, our most dubious of all the "sciences." Stripping out all the sections that suggest that one study "shows" a given theory right or wrong, one is left with a few pages of Bloom's insights on life and parenting. Thanks? ( )
  shum57 | Jul 22, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am ashamed to admit that I received this as an Early Reviewer and am just now reviewing it. There are several good reviews already posted, so I'll keep it short and sweet. To summarize, the author takes on the the question of nature vs. nurture. Are babies born moral or is morality learned? The author explains the results of several studies done on both babies and adults to answer that question. You'll have to read the book to learn the author's conclusion. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that he didn't focus more time on discussing the studies on babies. But all in all, the book should be of interest to those interested in psychology and morality. ( )
1 vote library_gal | May 4, 2016 |
I found this book to be interesting. The author makes several good points, but often jumps to conclusions that he has no facts to support. It is very difficult to determine what babies are thinking, given that they are unable to speak, so to assume that we can determine those things is a little ambitious to say the least. The title is slightly misleading, as this book isn't as much about good and evil as it is about how we form our moral compasses and whether this is inherent or learned. Either way, it makes some truly interesting points and is worth a read if you are interested in psychology.
2 vote alb2219 | Sep 5, 2014 |
Well written in an accessible and engaging style, this book looks at morality from a number of perspectives: biological, philosophical and cultural. I found it very interesting and informative. ( )
  LynnB | Sep 4, 2014 |
Extremely accessible overview of current empirical findings on the early appearances of distinctions that, when occurring in adults, would be called "moral." The first three chapters dealing with empathy and fairness hew most closely to this design. Later chapters paint with a broader brush than merely what we find among babies. In that sense they are less satisfying in light of the stated theme of the book, but for those looking for straightforward description of those research areas -- e.g., family, disgust, and behavioral morality -- will find them welcome inclusions. ( )
  dono421846 | May 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
added by danielx | editNY Times, Cohen Simon Barren (Dec 29, 2013)
 
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Dedicated to Elaine Reiser and Murray Reiser, for their love and support.
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In 2005, a writer living in Dallas heard that an acquaintance of hers was suffering from kidney disease.
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