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The Child in the World

Embodiment, Time, and Language in Early Childhood

Eva M. Simms

Childhood Studies, Cultural Studies, Psychology

Landscapes of Childhood Series

Published: April 2008
ISBN: 9780814333754
Pages: 264 Size: 6x9 Illustrations: 9
Published: April 2008
ISBN: 9780814338407

Simms's book is a remarkable feat of corporeal empathy, guaranteed to provoke a steady upwelling of felt memories in the awareness of any adult reader. It enlivens our understanding.

— David Abram

The Child in the World builds a bridge between continental philosophers, who tend to overlook child existence, and developmental psychologists, who often fail to consider the philosophical assumptions underlying their work. In this volume, author Eva M. Simms draws on both psychological and phenomenological research to investigate child existence in its cultural and historical context and explore the ways children interact with the world around them.

Simms examines key experiences of childhood with special attention to the non-dualistic nature of the child’s consciousness and the understanding that there is more to the child’s experiences than cognitive processes. In chapters that proceed from infancy to early childhood, Simms considers how children live their embodiment, coexist with others, experience and the spaces and places of their neighborhoods, have deeply felt relations to things, grasp time intuitively and often in contradiction to adult clock-time, and are transformed by the mystery of the symbolic order of play and language.

Simms’s approach is particularly informed by the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, which allows for a descriptive and grounded understanding of child experience as well as sophisticated and critical philosophical thinking about human existence in general.

By respecting and celebrating the magical non-dualistic relationship child consciousness has to the world, The Child in the World offers readers a unique opportunity to expand their understanding of human existence. Students and teachers of psychology and philosophy, early childhood educators, psychotherapists, as well as general readers who are parents of young children will enjoy this fascinating volume.

Eva M. Simms is associate professor of psychology at Duquesne University.

The Child in the World is a seminal body of meticulous and articulate scholarship, making it highly recommended and welcome addition to the growing body of childhood development studies for professional and academic library reference collections and supplemental reading lists."

– Midwest Book Review

This book challenges the standard assumptions made in the scientific analysis of the educational and psychological institutions related to childhood. In exploring the universal aspects of everyday existence, in the experiences of both children and adults, Simms makes excellent use of the generative power of close phenomenological observation. She opens up an alternative, deeply embodied way of considering the most important questions about how we raise our children and the implications that has for our own lives.

– Shaun Gallagher, author of How the Body Shapes the Mind and professor of philosophy and cognitive science at the University of Central Florida

Here is a rich and many-faceted exploration into the lived experience of childhood, with its shuddering terrors and skin-rippling pleasures. We were all children once, yet how difficult it is even for parents to really feel our way back inside the wonder-strewn world of the child. Simms's book is a remarkable feat of corporeal empathy, guaranteed to provoke a steady upwelling of felt memories in the awareness of any adult reader. It enlivens our understanding.

– David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous and founder of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE)

If babies could speak they would all raise their rattles and their toys and salute Eva Simms. They would praise her for entering their world, for understanding that they live in a different space, a different time, with different things and qualities and a different body than we do as adults. They would in unison say, 'Thank you for giving us back our dignity as children.' And, as an adult, I similarly raise my glass to Eva Simms and say 'thank you' for showing us how profoundly children are our teachers, drawing us back into the sensuousness of the world, the deliciousness of open time, free play, sensory immediacy, unfolding wonder.

– Robert Sardello, PhD, author of Freeing the Soul from Fear, Silence, and Love and the Soul, and director of the School of Spiritual Psychology