The Human Spark: The Science of Human Developmentby Jerome Kagan
What makes a human a human? In The Human Spark, pioneering psychologist Jerome Kagan offers an answer in a sweeping narrative of our personal, moral, and cultural development. In this extended meditation on human psychology as well as the methods, successes, and failures of the scientists who study it. Kagan calls out the shortcomings of the modern fad for neuroscience, and questions psychiatry's quickness to pathologize the behavior of the young. More importantly, he reminds us that our lives, however influenced by biology and upbringing, are still a tapestry to be woven, not an outcome to be endured. Whether the reader is a first-time parent wondering what influence she, her genes, and the wider world will have on her child; an educator seeking insight into the development of her students; or simply a curious soul seeking self-knowledge, Kagan makes an expert and companionable guide.
“A vividly titled overview, by the pioneering developmental psychologist, of his current thinking about the answer to the question, ‘What does it mean to be human?' Reading him, one resonates to the kind of teacher he must have been.”Harvard Magazine
“Entertaining and intellectually engaging.”Library Journal
“An intriguing overview of many of the underlying assumptions guiding modern psychology.”Kirkus Reviews
“An insightful discussion of the epistemology of psychology . [Kagan] offers illuminating discussions of the impact of culture on childhood development . [A] fascinating summary of the current science behind human development from one of the leaders in the field.”Publishers Weekly
“In his masterful survey, Kagan filters findings in the field.... An authoritative study of the dance of genes and environment in each child as they grow in universally human, and profoundly individual, ways.”Nature
“Best known for his work exploring the persistence of inborn temperamental differences, Kagan here expands his inquiry into other areas, including the problems inherent in trying to understand something as complex as human nature by looking through as narrow a lens as neuroscience, genetics, or psychological research. The result is a wide-ranging book that...often offers astonishing details amid the research Kagan summarizes.”Boston Globe
“Kagan makes a strong case that personality is more elastic, and resilient, than we may think: Even toddlers who experience extreme abuse or deprivation can become well-adjusted adults.”Discover
“Kagan grapples manfully with the complexity of what it means to be human, and has a magnificent disregard for orthodoxyquestioning everything from attachment theory to the belief that animal emotions are comparable to our own.”New Scientist
- Basic Books
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- Hachette Digital, Inc.
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- 2 MB
Meet the Author
Jerome Kagan is emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard University and one of the pioneers of the field of developmental psychology. The author of numerous books including The Nature of the Child and Galen's Prophecy, he received the William James Award from American Psychological Association. In 2009 he was featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story about anxiety.
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