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Descartes' Baby: How Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human Paperback – 7 Jul 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099437945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099437949
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Lifts some weighty concepts with a lightness of touch. It's genuinely thoughtful and thought-provoking, rather than some wearingly trivial pop psychology book about how cute babies are.'" (Mil Millington Observer's Summer Reading)

"'This gem of a book explains how people can be so smart but at the same time construe the world in seemingly bizarre ways. Descartes' Baby is crystal clear, gracefully written, and filled with fascinating observations.'" (Steven Pinker)

"'Simple and compelling... Bloom illuminates his arguments with fascinating case histories... Along the way Bloom offers psychological insight into all manner of puzzling questions... Bloom's underlying philosophical aims are profound... We stand on the brink of a new era of self-discovery.'" (The Times)

Book Description

A striking exploration of how new approaches to child development can illuminate our understanding of the feelings and beliefs that show us at our most human - humour, disgust, art, religion and morality - by 'the wunderkind of his generation of cognitive scientists' (Steven Pinker)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Engaging and funny cognitive scientist Paul Bloom's second book is a fascinating read. In it, he argues that we are wired to view the world as containing both bodies and souls. Bloom argues convincingly that it is for this reason, that even when the idea of psychophysical dualism clashes with our intellectual understanding of bodies and souls, we still maintain vestiges of a belief in the immaterial soul. His discussions of a huge range of fascinating issues make this book a must-read.
Descartes' Baby is incredibly fun to read, and is smattered with bits of humor and amusing anecdotes about real children and adults. Indeed, one of the most humorous moments in this lively book is Bloom's account of a neuroscientist colleague's culinarily-motivated search for animals without a certain neural structure, because, he reasoned, animals without this certain structure surely didn't have consciousness and therefore we safe to eat.
Another strength of the book is Bloom's treatment of disgust. His view is both interesting and nuanced and falls naturally from his argument that we are intuitive dualists at heart. Other high points are his discussion of art and forgery, and his quite funny discussion of humor.
It's not often that I read nonfiction. Normally I find it either too pedantic or too technical and narrow in scope to appeal to an outsider. One of the tremendous strengths of this book is that someone without training in developmental psychology or philosophy can follow it with ease, while still finding it intellectually satisfying.
This book is truly a gem -- both entertaining and important. It's a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about human nature.
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Format: Hardcover
Engaging and funny cognitive scientist Paul Bloom's second book is fascinating. In it, he argues that we are wired to view the world as containing both bodies and souls. Bloom argues convincingly that it is for this reason, that even when the idea of psychophysical dualism clashes with our intellectual understanding of bodies and souls, we still maintain vestiges of a belief in the immaterial soul. His discussions of a huge range of fascinating issues make this book a must-read.
Descartes' Baby is not just informative, but is smattered with bits of humor and amusing anecdotes about real children and adults. Indeed, one of the most humorous moments in this lively book is Bloom's account of a neuroscientist colleague's culinarily-motivated search for animals without a certain neural structure, because, he reasoned, animals without this certain structure surely didn't have consciousness and therefore we safe to eat.
Another strength of the book is Bloom's treatment of disgust. His view is both interesting and nuanced and falls naturally from his argument that we are intuitive dualists at heart. Other high points are his discussion of art and forgery, and his quite funny discussion of humor.
It's not often that I read nonfiction. Normally I find it either too pedantic or too technical and narrow in scope to appeal to an outsider. One of the tremendous strengths of this book is that someone without training in developmental psychology or philosophy can follow it with ease, while still finding it intellectually satisfying.
This book is truly a gem -- both entertaining and important. It's a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about human nature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited by the concept of this book when I read its description and reviews. I felt it is one of those that can change the way you see the world. This it did. However, I feel the author did not develop his brilliant idea (that we are born dualists who see the world as physical as well as mental) and how it influences our conception of things such as art and religion in as much detail as it deserves - it really is such an excellent idea that can explain so much, and for that the book is well worth reading. As with Prof Bloom's 'Just Babies' book, the description of studies with children are fascinating; however, he does sometimes go off on long tangents with a lot of philosophical passages. I personally felt the sections based on studies and anecdotes a lot stronger with regards to the idea he was developing. But his style is so thoughtful and entertaining that overall it was a pleasure to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant account of how children naturally develop a divided view of the world, with minds or souls or spirits leading a separate life from bodies. Bloom describes many fascinating experiments, some of them ingeniously showing what infants think even before they can talk. It is all presented and discussed clearly with minimal resort to technical terms. My only quarrel - a small one - is with the title. Descartes invented a very unnatural dualism, which forbids spirits from interfering in any way with physical things. Children believe all too easily in witchcraft and magic and all kinds of hocus pocus, and many of them grow up into adults who imagine that disease and disaster are God's punishment for the sins of the people.
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