Critique of Infant Determinism

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Critique of Infant Determinism Do experiences during early years solely determine later development? In the second chapter of his book "Three Seductive Ideas" (1998), Kagan questions the overemphasis on the first two years of an individual's life. While not doubting its importance, Kagan suggests that perhaps more crucial to human development is the construction of experience, perception, and comparison of ourselves to others which begins during the fifth or sixth year of life. His argument is a valid one, regarding the fact that infant determinism overrates the importance of first two years in a person’s whole lifetime. As Kagan argues, infant determinism is rather a political theory that conceals the effect of social class on development (Kagan, 1998, p.89). People who advocate infant determinism says that interactive play and secure attachment between a mother and a baby during the very early years are what lead to well-being in adulthood (Waters and Cummings, 2000, p.164). By assuming that the first two years determine the rest of the development, infant determinism blocks the possibility of society being the major influence on human development. It puts less emphasis on the impact of social interactions that a person goes through for his or her lifetime. However, human is a social animal: how can the first two years, such a mere amount of time for any perceptive socialization, be accounted for the rest of the life? Kagan argues it is not until five to seven years old when a child starts to learn some social responsibilities (Kagan, 1998, p.109). Moreover, our brain and mind are not a closed system: Kagan says, “the brain is still growing for the first two years of life” (Kagan, 1998, p.115). It is influence... ... middle of paper ... ...no doubt that infants should get affectionate care from their parents. However, waiting for them ahead is the complex socialization and interaction between other social factors, which will greatly influence their development. This development also depends on which social class the children belong to. Because it is the continuity of events that shapes one’s perception, experiences that correspond to one’s social class, as well as how they are interpreted, will directly affect later development (Kagan, 1998, p.128). Considering the amount of time and various events that children will be going through for their lifetime, events in the first two years are rather insufficient to determine the whole course of later development. Bibliography: Kagan, J. "The Allure of Infant Determinism." Three Seductive Ideas. Cambridge, MA: Havard Univ Press (1998). 84-150

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