Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human” as Want to Read:
Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  23 reviews
All humans see the world in two fundamentally different ways: even babies have a rich understanding of both the physical and social worlds. They expect objects to obey principles of physics, and they’re startled when things disappear or defy gravity. Yet they can also read emotions and respond with anger, sympathy, and joy.In Descartes’ Baby, Bloom draws on a wealth of sci ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 27th 2005 by Basic Books (first published 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Descartes' Baby, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Descartes' Baby

Blink by Malcolm GladwellOutliers by Malcolm GladwellFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Greatest Psychology Books
146th out of 373 books — 606 voters
Concepts, Kinds, and Cognitive Development by Frank C. KeilThe Language and Thought of the Child by Jean PiagetHow Children Learn the Meanings of Words by Paul BloomThought and Language by Lev S. VygotskyHow Children Develop by Robert S. Siegler
Best Cognitive Development Books
28th out of 39 books — 26 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 557)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Bloom's style is unsurpassed, he is both interesting and intellectually fulfilling which is a hard thing to do. He also has a central theme in that he's using developmental psychology as a lens to look at essentialism being a wired-in property of human nature. This makes things much more interesting and provides a common thread to the book that keeps its direction well-maintained. His discussions of the nature of art, disgust and the understanding of the relationship between morality and disgust ...more
Accessible cognitive and developmental psychology, perhaps best suited for parents (of a secular bent) of infants and young children looking for general insights. This is not a parenting book but an extended thesis with some philosophy and experimental observations by a famous professor of psychology.

And the take-home message:

"Children take 'thinking' in the narrow sense, in terms of conscious problem solving and reasoning. If you ask [a six-year old] whether they can go for long periods witho
Humans, even small children, are as adapted to dealing with other people - understanding their intentions, judging their feelings and beliefs - as they are to dealing with inanimate things. The exception are autistic people, such as the author's brother, who consider people to be things; the author once worked in a camp for autistic children, and a boy climbed him to get a toy from a shelf as if he were furniture. The fact that autistic people have one ability working fine and the other complete ...more
Dec 05, 2013 Jstoutgator rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers who have a particular interest in this subject matter

Generally, I think the title is a bit misleading. It is not until the very last chapter that Bloom begins to tie the meditations and evidence of the book's content to the question of God's existence. And even here I would not compare it to Descartes; though still a philosophical writing, Paul examines things from a more general realm of understanding.

Personally, I found the research Bloom has done, and his accounts of others' research in this book very interesting. However, I found more intelle
*Physical bodies, immaterial souls*

What makes us human?

Paul Bloom's book of _Descartes' Baby_ offers a rich and satisfying exploration of this existential question. At the core of this book is the premise that "we are dualists who have two ways of looking at the world: in terms of bodies and in terms of souls." (p.191). In other words, we see our bodies and souls as separate entities and "we do not feel as if we *are* bodies; we feel as if we *occupy* them." (p. 191)

This dualistic lens allows u
Kin Guan
Kingsley Amis: "It is no wonder that people are often so horrible; after all, they started off as children". Although it sounds awful to children (after all they are little cute walking creatures that resembles us incidentally), the quote sheds light upon the nature of this book - how child developmental psychology reflects our behaviour as an adult. Our curiousity, morality, sense of good and evil can trace back to how children think and behave innately. Another excellent book on psychology - m ...more
Luke Meakin
Descartes' Baby is a great book, a great discussion of the complex processes and theories that govern our social consciousness.

Bloom puts forward fresh and exciting ideas that arise in childhood and eventually shape us into the socially-conscious animals we are. His use of a vast amount of research keeps the reader directly involved with the theory, the theory is always moving towards the eventual answer that is seemingly quite obvious.

Covering topics such as; the social construction of art and
Jun 12, 2011 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: disgusted infants, anxious objects, guinea pigs of all stripes
Recommended to Kate by: 153 B
Shelves: sciences
"The senselessly cruel mother here is Mother Nature."

Consider the different ways in which one can die:

Found dead in the streets
Killed by several accidents

"The art world was our conceptual oyster, and we ate it raw."

(It must be hard to be a psychopath—so much effort, all the time.)

St. Augustine was greatly influenced by Cicero's vivid image of Etruscan pirates' torture of prisoners by strapping a corpse to them face to face.
This book discusses recent studies of brain development and early childhood, and makes the case that the way we perceive and understand the world explains human philosophy and art from an evolutionary perspective.

It's an intriguing thesis, and every section of the book had some interesting facts. Overall quite readable. But in the end I was left feeling that the book didn't quite pull together all of the threads and some sections really didn't seem relevant to the main point.
I had already heard about a lot of the content in this book. This is probably because of its heavy crossover, in content, with the writings of Blooms mentor and fellow linguist Stephen Pinker, and through reading other allied popularizers like Dennett, Dawkins and Baron-Cohen. But had I not already learnt of the content before, I should think that it would have made for a fascinating single collection of insights in the genre of cognitive science. ...more
The author of this book contends that people are natural-born dualists, and even babies see the world in terms of bodies and souls. I thought that this book had the potential to be very interesting, but instead I found it to be slow-moving and disjointed. It definitely did not contain as much information and theory about child development as I would have hoped, based on the title. By far the best chapter was the one on disgust, which was quite amusing.
Mary Noberini
Paul Bloom is a respected developmental psychologist who describes recent findings that suggest that babies are natural born dualists. He borrows from the evolutionary psychology approach to show how this innate dualism eventuates into the human concerns with art, spirituality and the moral sense. This is an easy to read book, not a professional tome.
I expected more of this book. In particular, I would have liked to read about a larger number of different experiments with babies and children, supporting the view that we are natural-born Cartesian dualists. Besides, the main idea of the book seems to owe more to the psychologist Henry Wellman than Bloom actually gives him credit.
Skylar Lee
mindreaders, artifacts, anxious objects, and the moral circle most interesting.
not a page turner, partially because I've heard Paul Bloom's lectures before.
nature of such books, but it lacks a natural stream of ideas it wants to present.
not the most coherent read, but worth reading as food for thought.
This was a very interesting read, and gave me quite a few new things to think about. I don't agree with a lot of the things that the author takes as givens in his arguments, but found his logic and thought processes quite fascinating. Overall, I really enjoyed this read.
Fascinating, informative and most importantly, highly readable. It trots along with just enough content and pace. I kept thinking he would run out of ideas or start to be less interesting, but no, consistently excellent all the way through. An inspiration of a book.
Each chapter examines an area or issue of child development, creating a mosaic of characteristis that contribute of our humanity. It is well-written, the author is appealing, and the research is very interesting, though the book is more episodic than comprehensive.
Fascinating, informative and most importantly, highly readable. It trots along with just enough content and pace. I kept thinking he would run out of ideas or start to be less interesting, but no, consistently excellent all the way through. An inspiration of a book.
I disagree with Bloom's conclusion, but I really enjoyed learning about child development and even babies are perfect little proto-people, but their own species as well.
Solid. Nothing particularly new, but a really nicely-written overview of key biological, psychological and moral issues that sums up what it means to be human.
Great book! Especially for those interested in developmental psychology
Great book for expectant dads who want to study their child.
for content, it gets a 5+, but the style is a bit rough.
Leandro Zis
Leandro Zis marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2015
Riley marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2015
Shams marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2015
Joaquin Luis
Joaquin Luis marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2015
Ly-shan marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2015
Gerry Gronemeier
Gerry Gronemeier marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 18 19 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind
  • Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind
  • The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science
  • Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
  • Laughter: A Scientific Investigation
  • A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation
  • Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature
  • The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain: A 24 Hour Journal of What's Happening in Your Brain as You Sleep, Dream, Wake Up, Eat, Work, Play, Fight, Love, Worry, Compete, Hope, Make Important Decisions, Age, and Change
  • A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers
  • Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty
  • The Story of Psychology
  • The Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray
  • Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
  • Strangers to Ourselves - Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious
  • Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence
  • The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
  • Memory: A Very Short Introduction
Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has published more than a hundred scientific articles in journals such as Science and Nature, and his popular writing has appeared in the Ne ...more
More about Paul Bloom...
How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil How Children Learn the Meanings of Words One Day University Best Lecture Series Presents: Psychology Language and Space

Share This Book