Salon has a good piece on the philosophical capabilities of babies. This excerpt is particularly interesting in exploring how we start thinking about the future from the earliest stage. So was Socrates really babbling? Or was his babbling merely socratic?
"Very young children readily imagine a variety of outcomes to any given situation. For example, 2-year-olds can tell you that if their imaginary teddy bear is drinking imaginary tea and spills it, the imaginary tea will have to be mopped up. Is this ability to imagine the what-ifs of life what most separates human from non-human thought?
I think so, though again animals are smarter than we thought. Still, humans have a special ability to think "counterfactually," to imagine what might have happened rather than remember what did happen, and animals certainly don't do that as much as we do. For better or worse, we live in possible worlds as much as actual ones. We are cursed by that characteristically human guilt and regret about what might have been in the past. But that may be the cost for our ability to hope and plan for what might be in the future."