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How Infants Know Minds Hardcover – April 30, 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


This book is terrific—both an intellectual feat, and a delight. It makes a bold and creative claim, pulls together a wide range of evidence from lab science and everyday experience, and gives us something genuinely new and exciting. It could change all our ideas—parents' and researchers—about what is going on in babies' minds.
--Karen Wynn, Yale University

It's a book by a sensitive writer who offers many striking insights about children growing up - insights that combine a deep humanity with real psychological and philosophical acumen. There are precious ideas here, well worth sharing with behavioral science, philosophy, anthropology, and related disciplines.
--Jerome Bruner, New York University

Reddy describes how babies as young as eight months can fake crying and laughter. She talks of nine-month-olds who, unwilling to stop playing, feign deafness despite their mothers' calls; and of babies not yet one year old acting innocent when caught doing something forbidden. By the time the children in Reddy's studies were 2 1/2 they were indulging in face-saving lies, often ready to blame siblings, to avoid punishment. However, as familiar as Reddy's observations may seem to many of us, she is challenging the established line.
--Jo Carlowe (The Times 2008-04-19)

Provide[s] exceptionally sensitive, careful and thoughtful descriptions of the everyday lives of babies...Reddy's book is full of eloquent and informative descriptions of the playful way that even young infants tease, act coy, and generally muck about with their parents.
--Alison Gopnik (Times Literary Supplement 2008-09-05)

The mixture of close observation and probing speculation...makes for compelling reading.
--R. A. Goodrich (Metapsychology 2009-02-17)

Reddy has written a fascinating, in places provocative, work that examines how infants know the minds of others in their environment through active, ongoing reciprocal engagement.
--D. J. Winchester (Choice 2008-12-01)

[I] recommend How Infants Know Minds to anyone interested in infant development...As time goes on, I am more and more convinced that parents need support in trusting their instincts, and How Infants Know Minds is written in that spirit of openness to what may occur between people. Reddy sets out to prove that it is worth giving the youngest babies the benefit of the doubt in terms of their engagement with others...The really compelling aspect of Reddy's work is the belief that rising to the challenges of a real relationship with an infant as a person has profound implications for one's own development in terms of how we see ourselves and others.
--Jessa Leff (Infant Observation 2009-04-01)

The theory Reddy puts forward is not only provocative; it comes with ample supportive evidence and successfully addresses the hoary philosophical puzzle of how the Cartesian gap is bridged. It integrates data on infant social competence with a radically revised view of development and provides a model of how young infants can read minds without having a theory of others' minds, and without cognitive representations of the self and the other.
--Emese Nagy (Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2009-10-01)

Every once in a while, a piece of academic writing appears like a breath of fresh air in the somewhat musty world of scholarly discourse, armed with a renewed look at ordinary phenomena without fear or favor. This is the enduring feeling I have had of Reddy's book...Reddy's work has direct bearing on the methods we use in engaging with infants, whether it is for research or personal relationships. In fact that is the significance of her work, that there really should be no distinction between research and reality.
--Nandita Chaudhary (Psychological Studies 2009-06-01)

About the Author

Vasudevi Reddy is Professor of Developmental and Cultural Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674026667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674026667
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,669,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This very important book extends the work of Colwyn Trevarthen and makes the important distinction between first and third person perspectives and second person perspectives in understanding human interactions. Dr. Reddy is a well established scholar and yet writes in a readable style. Her work is based on normal functioning and includes stories of the development of her own children. An important contribution in understanding intersubjective processes and their important role in the unfolding of consciousness.
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