The Cradle of Thought: Exploring the Origins of Thinking
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.