In this expansion of the ideas expressed in her work, "Children's Minds", the author presents a study of the development of the mind from birth to maturity. The author's argument brings into focus certain questions about the relations between thought and emotion: are our emotions bound to remain relatively primitive by comparison with our sophisticated forms of thought, as is often assumed? Or do we have open to us advanced forms of emotional development that are commonly unrealized? She questions the characteristics of the world's great religions, particularly Buddhism, which emerges as relevant in what it has to say about certain forms of personal growth. The author also wrote "A Study of Children's Thinking".
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In this densely written but often simplistic treatise, Donaldson ( Children's Minds ) maps a theory of how the mind develops and works. She posits four distinct yet interdependent modes of mental functioning: living in the here and now ("point mode"); acknowledging one's personal past and future ("line mode"); active concern with the wider world ("construct mode"); and the "transcendent mode" exemplified by logic, mathematics and certain types of spiritual experience. A developmental psychologist who holds an honorary chair at Edinburgh University, Donaldson attempts to trace the interplay of these four modes in the origins of religion and science, in artistic creativity, in psychoanalysis and cognitive therapy, and in specific historical epochs. She pays particular attention to Buddhism, which she views as a system for escaping undesirable modes at will. Donaldson calls for a "dual enlightenment"--a sustained effort to develop children's intellectual skills and the cultivation of transcendent experience which, she feels, modern society tends to suppress.
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