The Cradle of Thought: Exploring the Origins of Thinking

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Overview


Imaginative and creative thought is what distinguishes humans from animals. It is what defines us as Homo sapiens. What it means to have thoughts, and what gives us the remarkable capacity to think, have been subjects of debate for centuries. In The Cradle of Thought, Peter Hobson presents a new and provocative theory about the nature and origins of uniquely human thinking.

A prevailing opinion on the acquisition of thought and language is that babies are born with pre-programmed modules in the brain. But this is too narrow and too simplistic an explanation. Professor Hobson's radical view is that what gives us the capacity to think is the quality of a baby's exchanges with other people over the first 18 months of life. As part and parcel of an intellectual revolution in the second year, the child achieves new insight into the minds of itself and others. Human thought, language, and self-awareness are developed in the cradle of emotional engagement between infant and caregiver; social contact has vital significance for mental development.

Professor Hobson draws on 20 years of clinical experience and academic research as a developmental psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He follows the thread of mental development over the first 18 months of ababy's life to describe and to explain the emergence of thinking; he shares startling insights into mental development gained from his studies of autism; and he shows how, from infancy to adulthood, disturbances of thinking may be rooted in troubled early relationships. Finally, he pinpoints tiny but momentus changes in the social relations of pre-human primates from which human thought sprang.

In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Peter Hobson shows how very early engagement with others fosters the child's growth out of the cradle of infancy and into the realm of human thought and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Packed with appealing anecdotes about the loveable things kids do and say. . .along with more disturbing pictures, drawn from Hobson's work with autistic children, of how badly things can go wrong. . .The notion that our minds develop through other people seems, intuitively, to be along the right lines." --Robert Hanks,The Daily Telegraph

"There is much to admire in this immensely readable book, and Hobson is both an outstanding scholar and passionate about his subject. His human and clinical concern for people comes through clearly in his writing, and his book will be a welcome contribution to the debate in cognitive development." --Simon Baron-Cohen, Nature

"How does a child develop the capacity to think? In particular, how does it develop a sense of self, of the existence of other persons with minds of their own, and of its relationship to these others? . . .For Hobson, the key lies in that one word, relationship. . .Any parent reading his account will recognise it makes sense." --Steven Rose, Sunday Times (London)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195219548
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

University College, London
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Table of Contents

Picture Acknowledgements Preface
1. Just Think
2. Before Thought
3. The Dawn of Thinking
4. The Cast of Thought
5. The Fragile Growth of Mind
6. The Inner and the Outer
7. Fettered Minds
8. Self and Others
9. Understanding Minds Notes Index

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