Just Babies

Just Babies

The Origins of Good and Evil

Book - 2013
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A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone.

From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society--and especially parents--to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies , Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others' actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justice.

Still, this innate morality is limited, sometimes tragically. We are naturally hostile to strangers, prone to parochialism and bigotry. Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race.

In his analysis of the morality of children and adults, Bloom rejects the fashionable view that our moral decisions are driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases. Just as reason has driven our great scientific discoveries, he argues, it is reason and deliberation that makes possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Ultimately, it is through our imagination, our compassion, and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we were born with, becoming more than just babies.

Paul Bloom has a gift for bringing abstract ideas to life, moving seamlessly from Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith to The Princess Bride , Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing, Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York :, Crown,, [2013]
New York : Crown, [2013]
ISBN: 9780307886859
Branch Call Number: 155.4182 BLO NVD
Characteristics: 273 pages ; 22 cm


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JCLChrisK Aug 19, 2015

A highly readable, engaging, and intriguing look at philosophical, biological, and psychological issues of morality. Bloom begins from his work with infants and children as a cognitive scientist, sharing what studies have shown is an innate sense of right and wrong that we are all born with and how it (potentially) develops into adult morality. He reviews what other thinkers have theorized, describes research into the field, and shares his own conclusions with conversational, everyday language. The chapter titles indicate his areas of consideration: The Moral Life of Babies; Empathy and Compassion; Fairness, Status, and Punishment; Others; Bodies; Family Matters; and How to Be Good. I wish he would have synthesized his thoughts in the different areas into a clearer whole, but he certainly offers much food for thought.

Jan 06, 2015

This is a good book, it teaches us about human nature, I dont want to spoil the the final conclusion of the book, so is human nature good or bad, you have to read the book to find out the conclusion.

What I can take away from this book is to teach my child "The Golden Rule" when it comes to being a good and responsible human being.

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