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Darwin's Biographical Sketch of an Infant

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Darwin's Biographical Sketch of an Infant
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Charles Darwin, Darwin, Biographical Sketch of an Infant
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Paper Abstract

Association through Learning Versus Instinct

In “A Biographical Sketch of an Infant”, Charles Darwin details his infant son’s pattern of growth and development in an effort to attempt to determine which actions, on the part of the infant, were learned and which actions were instinct.  Darwin kept a well-written account of his infant son as he grew.  It wasn’t until Darwin read a book that gave an account of an infant’s mental development that he felt compelled to look back at his own notes as a source of comparison.

Darwin determined that a number of reflexes that he witnessed his infant perform in the first week of his life were indeed reflexes.  Darwin stated, “During the first seven days various reflex actions, namely sneezing, hiccupping, yawning, stretching, and of course sucking and screaming, were well performed by my infant.”  In a slightly comical way, Darwin then goes on to talk about the great lengths he went to in order to startle his child

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