A Sydney Ideas lecture
The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life
Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of Philosophy, University of California , Berkeley
Co-presented with the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, University of Sydney
In the last thirty years there's been a revolution in our scientific understanding of babies and young children, a revolution that's also transformed our understanding of human nature itself. In this talk, Alison Gopnik will outline some of the new discoveries and their implications for the way we think about young children and ourselves. Human beings have a longer childhood than any other animal - our children are more helpless and dependent than any others. Why make babies so helpless for so long? She shows that childhood - our long period of helplessness - is responsible for our uniquely human consciousness and our ability to learn, imagine and love. Their long protected childhood gives human babies an opportunity to learn and play, and that lets them plan and work as adults. Children not only learn about the world around them, they also learn about other people and themselves. By the time they are three or four they understand love and morality. These remarkable learning abilities reflect special features of babies' brains, features that may actually make babies more conscious than adults.
Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She is an internationally recognised leader in the study of children's learning and development and was the first to argue that children's minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions.
Date: Thursday 24 February, 2011
Time: 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Venue: Law School Foyer, Eastern Avenue, the University of Sydney
Cost: Free event, no booking or registration required