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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Stevan Harnad
D. Weinberger

Paul Bloom

Descartes' Baby

Sometimes it's rather puzzling why people should believe what they do. In Descarte's Baby: How Child Development explains what makes us Human Paul Bloom looks at how we come by some of our thoughts and beliefs. He starts off by examining how children come to recognise the existence of other minds, followed by a look at how we make sense of objects around us - recognising whether or not they seem to be there for a purpose. There is also a discussion of how we get our sense of morality, and at when and why we might experience disgust. The book concludes with a look at our spiritual beliefs.

The most insightful chapter though is one on Art. Why should we ascribe great value to certain objects just because we are told that they are works of art. This is one of the most puzzling questions, but Bloom succeeds in finding a reasonable explanation - philosophy of art is clearly his area of expertise. I felt that the rest of the book didn't offer the same sort of insights, either from a philosophical or a child development point of view. But Bloom is an experienced writer, and puts forward his arguments in a very readable way, so if you're interested in why we believe what we do, and in particular in the way we think about art, then you should take a look at this book.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 288 pages  
ISBN: 0465007864
Salesrank: 641927
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: 2005 Basic Books
Amazon price $12.00
Marketplace:New from $5.50:Used from $2.81
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 288 pages  
ISBN: 0099437945
Salesrank: 452396
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2005 Arrow
Amazon price £7.99
Marketplace:New from £4.17:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 288 pages  
ISBN: 0465007864
Salesrank: 437775
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: 2005 Basic Books
Amazon price CDN$ 14.07
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 7.19:Used from CDN$ 1.31
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Product Description
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 scientific discoveries to show how these two ways of knowing give rise to such uniquely human traits as humor, disgust, religion, art, and morality. How our dualist perspective, developed throughout our lives, profoundly influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions is the subject of this richly rewarding book.