Page count: 240 pages
Series: Body and Mind
For most of us, having a baby is the most profound, intense,
and fascinating experience of our lives. Now scientists and philosophers are
starting to appreciate babies, too.
The last decade has witnessed a revolution in our understanding of infants and young children. Scientists used to believe that babies were irrational, and that their thinking and experience were limited. Recently, they have discovered 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 cleverer, more thoughtful, and even 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.
"Her pages are packed with provocative
observations and cunning insights. I’d highly recommend this
fascinating book to any parent of a young child – and, indeed anyone
who has ever been a baby'"
- Josh Lacey, Guardian
"One of our best writers, Gopnik reveals the inner workings of those
minds that have been wrapped in mystery for all of human time: our
- Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music
"This book really makes you think about consciousness. The mind of a
child is a strange and wonderful world."
- Temple Grandin, Author of Thinking in Pictures
"Alison Gopnik's absorbing, smart, and enjoyable book might be better
titled The Philsophical Developmental Psychologist. Her remarkably
thoughtful and carefully reasoned studies into how babies learn and
think give intriguing insights and new ways of reflecting on
consciousness and creativity in adults as well. In a refreshing
counterpoint to speculations in evolutionary psychology. Her lucid and
engaging descriptions of experiments with babies demonstrate how much
can be understood simply by asking the right questions with an open
and critical mind. Parents and scientists will enjoy the insights but
so will anyone who has thought about the question of what it means to
- Lisa Randall, author of Warped Passages
"In The Philosophical Baby, Alison Gopnik reveals the latest
scientific discoveries--many of them quite surprising--about the
developing minds of young children. She also presents a richly
provocative and endlessly insightful story that unites the endearing
other-worldliness of children's imaginations with some of the oldest
and most profound questions in philosophy. This book is at once
touching, eloquent, and masterful in its fascinating revelations about
what makes us human."
- Frank J. Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel
"After convincing us that the seemingly familiar human child is
actually wrapped in mystery, Alison Gopnik offers a compelling and
convincing portrait of the opening years of life . This is
scientific writing of the highest order."
- Howard Gardner, author of Five Minds for the Future