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

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

by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  19 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
134th out of 450 books — 504 voters
Concepts, Kinds, and Cognitive Development by Frank C. KeilHow Children Learn the Meanings of Words by Paul BloomWords, Thoughts, and Theories by Alison GopnikHow Children Develop by Robert S. SieglerThe Language and Thought of the Child by Jean Piaget
Best Cognitive Development Books
24th out of 36 books — 19 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 492)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ilya
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
Jstoutgator
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
...more
Deb
*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
...more
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
...more
Kate
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:

Aged
Bleeding
Executed
Found dead in the streets
Grief
Killed by several accidents
Lethargy
Mother
Plague
Poisoned
Suddenly
Vomiting
Wolf

"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.
...more
Jen
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.
Ellyn
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.
Pavel
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.
Tracey
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.
Julie
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.
Sally
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.
Avray
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.
Christie
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.
Carl
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.
Lauren
Great book! Especially for those interested in developmental psychology
Eric
Great book for expectant dads who want to study their child.
Dave
for content, it gets a 5+, but the style is a bit rough.
nasim
nasim marked it as to-read
Nov 16, 2014
Dato Abzianidze
Dato Abzianidze marked it as to-read
Nov 11, 2014
Victor Lima
Victor Lima marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2014
Mary Sweeley
Mary Sweeley marked it as to-read
Nov 06, 2014
Emily Slavin
Emily Slavin marked it as to-read
Oct 29, 2014
J.knudsen
J.knudsen marked it as to-read
Oct 27, 2014
Malky Wigder
Malky Wigder is currently reading it
Oct 18, 2014
Kimberly Hoong
Kimberly Hoong marked it as to-read
Oct 17, 2014
Kimberley Heather
Kimberley Heather marked it as to-read
Oct 13, 2014
Fatima Azzahra
Fatima Azzahra marked it as to-read
Oct 10, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 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
  • Laughter: A Scientific Investigation
  • Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious
  • Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
  • A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation
  • Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
  • Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence
  • The Story of Psychology
  • A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers
  • What Mad Pursuit
  • Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique
  • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
  • The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience
  • The Modularity of Mind
  • Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
  • The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates The Complexities of Human Thought
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 Acquisition: Core Readings

Share This Book