From Publishers Weekly
Erudite cognitive scientist Bloom (How Children Learn the Meaning of Words) deftly reconciles notions of human mental lifein art, religious belief and moralitywith the latest in child development research. Bloom's central thesis is that what makes us uniquely human is our dualism: our understanding that there are material objects, or bodies, and people, or souls. He opens with evidence of babies' capacity to understand physical processes. What's more, he argues, children can anticipate the goals and intentions of othersan ability he calls "mindreading." In a fascinating summary of research into children's ideas about representation, Bloom highlights a fundamental human cognitive preoccupation with intention. It is this preoccupation, he suggests, that explains the value of art in human society. In a similar vein, Bloom says, morality and altruism are inborn, not learned. Further, he argues counterintuitively that empathy and rationality can be mutually reinforcing, while impartiality and reasoned argument often have emotional roots. Keenly focused on child development as a gold mine for truths about human cognition, Bloom confidentlybut never aggressivelyengages with the thought of Chomsky, Dennett, Gould, Pinker and Piaget. His prose abounds with lively examples from conceptual art, contemporary fiction and his own child-rearing observations. The result is a delightful and humane study that makes rewarding reading for those interested in cognitive psychology's broader implications.
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"Paul Bloom is an excellent ambassador for cognitive developmental psychology.... Descartes' Baby incorporates the most recent and provocative theoretical ideas in cognitive science." American Scientist "[Bloom's] prose abounds with lively examples from conceptual art, contemporary fiction and his own child-rearing observations. The result is a delightful and humane study that makes rewarding reading for those interested in cognitive psychology's broader implications." Publishers Weekly"
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