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The Philosophical Baby: What Children's…

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth,… (2009)

by Alison Gopnik

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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As this book points out, babies are not merely adorable little lumps. They're learning, observing and absorbing, on their way to the adults they'll become. She cites research but the book is written for the layman, so it's pretty readable although it can get dense here and there. Definitely a read for anyone who cares about children or has an interest in child development. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Quite enlightening. ( )
  Mithril | Dec 6, 2010 |
I found this an extremely interesting and enlightening book. Theories of development, neuroscience, genetics, psychology, evolution, ethics, and philosophy were all there. The book presented, in understandable terms, the latest studies on how the minds of children 6 and younger work. Those observations are then used to draw conclusions in the various realms listed above. Although some of those theories were presented more emphatically than seems appropriate and I may not agree with every conclusion, the journey and the thought the book provoked were fascinating. ( )
2 vote snash | Sep 30, 2009 |
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In her new book, "The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life," Gopnik incisively and compassionately highlights the extraordinary range of mental capabilities of even the youngest child. (short review plus an interview.)
added by lquilter | editSalon.com, Robert Burton (Aug 13, 2009)

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Alison Gopnikprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pietiläinen, KimmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A one-month-old stares at her mother's face with fixed, brow-wrinkling concentration, and suddenly produces a beatific smile.
This protracted period of immaturity is intimately tied up with the human capacity for change. Our human capacities for imagination and learning have great advantages; they allow us to adapt to more different environments than any other species and to change our own environments in a way that no other animal can. But they also have one great disadvantage - learning takes time. You don't want to be stuck exploring all the new possible ways to hunt deer when you haven't eaten for two days, or learning all the accumulated cultural wisdom about saber-toothed tigers when one is chasing you. It would be a good idea for me to spend a week exploring all the capabilities of my new computer, as my teenage son would, but with the saver-toothed tigers of grant deadlines and classes breathing down my neck, I'll just go on relying on old routines.
      An animal that depends on the accumulated knowledge of past generations has to have some time to acquire that knowledge. An animal that depends on imagination has to have some time to exercise it. Childhood is that time. Children are protected from the usual exigencies of adult life; they don't need to hunt deer or ward off saber-toothed tigers, let alone write grant proposals or teach classes - all of that is done for them. All they need to do is learn. When we're children we're devoted to learning about our world and imagining all the other ways the world could be. When we become adults we put all that we've learned and imagined to use.
     There's a kind of evolutionary division of labor between children and adults. Children are the R&D department of the human species - the blue-sky guys, the brainstormers. Adults are production and marketing. pp 10-11
In Germany there are more avoidant babies than in America, and in Japan there are more anxious babies. (p. 182)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374231966, Hardcover)

How do babies think? What is it like to be a baby? How much do our experiences as children shape our adult lives? In the last decade there has been a revolution in our understanding of the minds of infants and young children. We used to believe that babies were irrational, and that their thinking and experience were limited. Now Alison Gopnik—a leading psychologist and philosopher, as well as a mother—explains the cutting-edge scientific and psychological research that has revealed that babies learn more, create more, care more, and experience more than we could ever have imagined. And there is good reason to believe that babies are actually smarter, more thoughtful, and more conscious than adults.

This new science holds answers to some of the deepest and oldest questions about what it means to be human. A new baby’s captivated gaze at her mother’s face lays the foundations for love and morality. A toddler’s unstoppable explorations of his playpen hold the key to scientific discovery. A three-year-old’s wild make-believe explains how we can imagine the future, write novels, and invent new technologies. Alison Gopnik - a leading psychologist and philosopher, as well as a mother - explains the groundbreaking new psychological, neuroscientific, and philosophical developments in our understanding of very young children, transforming our understanding of how babies see the world, and in turn promoting a deeper appreciation for the role of parents.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A revelatory examination of how babies and young children think draws on new scientific understandings to identify links between key behaviors and subsequent abilities, explaining how the latest findings offer profound insight into the nature of being human.… (more)

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