Review: Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil Part 1

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Are we born with a sense of morality? In a series of articles, I will share with you what I learned from reading this book by Paul Bloom.

By Becky Horace

I saw this book out of the corner of my eye one day when my husband and I were killing time in the book store. The concept of good and evil has always fascinated me. Things like what makes people tick? What turned him into a crazy serial killer? How could a human being be capable of such atrocities?  Maybe I watch too many cop shows but still this is something that peeks my interest so when I saw this book and how it dives into the issues of morality at such a young age I was intrigued. In a series of articles, I would like to share with you what I have learned regarding morality. Instead of one long book review, I thought it would be easier to break down these concepts and maybe that way we can start a dialogue and see what other thoughts might pop up!

About the author

A psychology professor at Yale University, Paul Bloom focuses his research on how children and adults view the world with a special focus on morality among other things. Dr. Bloom earned his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from MIT. Upon graduation from MIT, he taught at the University of Arizona for several years and has been teaching at Yale since 1999. If his school credentials aren’t enough to impress; he is a co-editor of a scientific journal, married to another psychology professor at Yale, holds many distinguished honors and awards and has authored and edited six books. On top of all of that, the book is an easy read and at times very funny!

What is this book really about?

In this book, Dr. Bloom, goes against what previous philosophers have said about our moral self and argues that people are programed with a sense of good versus evil. For a long time, psychologist believed that we are all just a product of our family raising and that we are in essence a blank slate that will have our moral views shaped based on our upbringing but I am sure as we cover this book we will discover our upbringing has a significant effect on how we view the world and our moral character.

This book goes into Dr. Blooms new research and shows the reader that babies are able to identify “good” and “evil” behavior , feel empathy and compassion to individuals, soothe those in need and they do have a basic sense of justice. Dr. Bloom brings in information from all different fields, such as behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, psychology and philosophy.

In this book, Bloom will dive into what some famous philosophers already believed; that morality comes naturally.

“Our natural endowments include:

  • a moral sense- some capacity to distinguish between kind and cruel actions
  • empathy and compassion- suffering at the pain of those around us and the wish to make this pain go away
  • a rudimentary sense of fairness- a tendency to favor equal divisions of resources
  • a rudimentary sense of justice- a desire to see good actions rewarded and bad actions punished”

 

I hope you will join me on this study and will contribute your thoughts in the comments section below. I would love to hear what you have to say. Part 2 will be covering Chapters 1 & 2.

 

If you think this book would be of interest to you check out this link: Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil

 

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