The Descent of the Child - Human Evolution from a New Perspective
1995. First edition, first printing. A fine, unmarked copy in a fine, unclipped d/w.
The Descent of the Child tells the story of the development of a human child from the moment of insemination to puberty. In the process, Morgan develops a stunning theory of the origins of human intelligence, arguing that our capacity for intelligence is a by-product of evolving babyhood. Uniquely among primates, Homo sapiens are born with considerable struggle, emerge wholly helpless, and continue to be dependent for a long time afterwards - only their eyes, faces, and vocal cords work. They don't know that they're not always going to be like that, Morgan posits, but, bent on survival, they try to manipulate their parents or other caregivers to do things that the babies' can't do for themselves. These early struggles, according to Morgan, provide our formative intellectual activity. It is in infancy that we really learn to think and to question. It explores not only the biological perspectives but the social ones: the change in women's role, over-population, birth control, fertility problems and the break-up of the nuclear family. The Descent of the Child should be read by parents (both new and soon-to-be) as well as anyone interested in child development or human evolution.