In my opinion, although Montagu compels his readers to re-evaluate the manner in which we perceive human growth and development, across all the phases of life, I like to believe that the better part of the book is social prescription. This is so, based on the fact that Montagu emphasizes on a fine idealistic line about why the society needs schools that will preferably encourage interchange among successive grades in what is deemed as a cooperative, supportive setting. Based on this context, my reaction towards the book is that although Montagus points are clearly and ideally taken, I believe that there is still more that he would have written regarding agism. Instead, Montagu devoted too much attention on the section where he discusses the wrongness or rightness of pioneer neoteny philosophers and idealists such as Louis Bolk.
Discuss three ideas from the book that you found interesting, why, and how they may be valuable in your own life.
To begin with, the whole idea of neoteny has to be the most interesting one for me. According to Montagu, neoteny is defined as the process of growing young and also the process that a certain species, and especially the human species, has the potential to undergo rapid changes in its evolution due to the retention of what is deemed as juvenile or fetal traits in the sexually mature adults. The reason why this interests me the most is the fact that this ideology conflicts with the original human evolution process which puts more emphasis on growth and age, rather than behavior. I feel like this is of great value to my life right now since I am in a phase in life where I get to interact with numerous people especially in school. This being said, the idea that it is possible that people around me have instead, of growing old, retained their initial infant features throughout ontogeny and never displaying the adult behavior or even the physiology of the adult ancestor is quite thought-to provoke.
Another exciting idea in the book has to be the psychoneurosis idea. Here, Montagu challenges my belief in maturity after he introduces the concept of hardening of the psyche. In the book, Montagu contends that there is indeed substantial evidence that supports the idea that the human organism is by nature designed to retain the initial flexibility and experimentalism that it had during childhood. I believe that this idea is overly valuable in my life, especially as a college student who has a lot to learn and high anxiety due to the significant pressures of reaffirming and reviewing different things in my life.
Finally, the retardation of development as implied in the entire idea of neoteny is quite impressive. In my understanding, this ideology can be said to be an underlying factor of the broad plasticity in the development of human beings which hints at the story of human success. Besides, I am particularly drawn to the point where Montagu argues that we, as human beings, have been exposed to rigid cultural mores and very conservative school systems that primarily put too much pressure for children to grow up quickly. This premise particularly resonates best with me since my sociological experience has instilled in me the knowledge and the understanding of the dangers of a conservative society.
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