The First Idea
The First Idea

The First Idea

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By Stanley Greenspan and Stuart Shanker | 2004

In the childhood of every human being, and at the dawn of human history, there is an amazing – and until the publication of The First Idea, unexplained – leap from simple, genetically programmed behaviour to symbolic thinking, language, and culture. In The First Idea, Stanley Greenspan and Stuart Shanker explored this missing link and offered brilliant insights into two longstanding questions: how human beings first created symbols and how these abilities initially evolved and were subsequently transmitted and transformed across generation over millions of years.

In The First Idea, Greenspan and Shanker formulated a starting hypothesis for which they presented compelling evidence – that the critical step in symbol formation, language, and thinking is not a "genetic leap" but a learned capacity. That capacity depended on specific types of nurturing interactions and other cultural practices that were passed down and thus learned anew and further developed by each generation, dating back to prehuman and even nonhuman primate cultures.

Drawing on fascinating evidence – not only from their research and collaborations comparing the language and intelligence of human infants and apes, but also from the fossil record, neuroscience, and Greenspan's extensive work with children with autism – Greenspan and Shanker offer a radical novel direction for evolutionary theory, developmental psychology, and philosophy.

Don't miss the opportunity to own a signed copy (by Stuart Shanker) of this original work!