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The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  71 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
In this highly original work, one of the world's most distinguished child psychiatrists together with a philosopher at the forefront of ape and child language research present a startling hypothesis-that the development of our higher-level symbolic thinking, language, and social skills cannot be explained by genes and natural selection, but depend on cultural practices lea ...more
Hardcover, 1st edition, 504 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published August 1st 2004)
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Tony duncan
Mar 07, 2008 Tony duncan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: whoever wants to really understand how we become human
Recommended to Tony by: childhood development studies
This is undoubtedly the best book I have read that incorporates the necessary elements for a comprehensive theory of human nature.

Greenspan's understanding of childhood development is unparalleled and the insights he has obtained from understanding the parameters of how to treat autism gives him the ideal perspective in proposing his and Shankar's groundbreaking view on how we become human.
their basic premise is that human learning is overwhelmingly environmentally determined. that tens of thou
Dec 25, 2008 Kevan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very, very interesting book.

How could the ability to think and have ideas evolve? What was the first idea?

Greenspan builds a very convincing thesis that ties in well with the ideas of, say, Dennett and Hofstadter.

It also resonates with the experience I have of my son who has Asperger's Syndrome.

Greenspan talks about a series of steps, interactions and abilities that the child builds through it's interaction with the environment and it's parents and siblings.

It is really quite plausible
Jul 06, 2008 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Will by: Bennett
It is interesting to consider the importance of emotion in the development of language, which this book eventually does. Unfortunately, for anyone who is not interested in the ever-changing terminology of developmental psychology and the pseudo-scientific jargon of sociologists, this book is very long and painful. I suggest reading Part III, which covers the theorized origins of language and a plausible account of how emotional signaling leads to different ways of building intelligence. It beats ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Mani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome, awesome, awesome book that weaves the developmental process of cognition with that of learning affect signaling and self/emotional regulation. Great introduction to social cognition and highly recommended for parents with kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I enjoyed this book for many reasons.

It helped me understand how the mind works with visuals, sounds, memory, and human contact. It all works hand in hand to form our actions and reactions to the world around us. It also describe how we grow to understand the world around us from infancy into adulthood.

As an administrative support professional in advertising, it helped me understand why people are drawn to symbols and how they are created. All senses must be accounted for when creating a quali
Deby Depreta
Dense. Overreaching. Short on research citation. Long on psychological theory based on abnormal behavior as indicative of what are universal normative biological/genetic/sociological/psychological aspects of humanity. Too much "just-so" theorizing. Western culture biased (much of the treatise) as well as sexist biased (subtly embedded, though the authors overtly take pains to designate most examples as "she").
Nov 21, 2007 Kylie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This fascinating book, written by an autism researcher, turns Chomsky's theory that language is "built into" the brain on it's ear. Greenspan exposes the similarities between us and primates, including the emotional link we establish with our children, and how this motivates our babies to learn language - enabling them to think in advanced ways. Ways that surpass what other primates are capable of.
May 07, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The most compelling part of this book for me was the idea that emotions drove the acquisition of language by the human race, and it is a disconnect between emotion and action as cause and effect that is the primary disability present in autistic children.
Stacy Schultz
Jun 08, 2009 Stacy Schultz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully insightful book. Just completed Dr. Greenspan's DIR/Floortime On-line course and was inspired to read this from one of the lectures he shared.

Andy Adkins
Nov 07, 2011 Andy Adkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for those rational enough to recognize the socially encompassing responsibilities of parenthood.
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