I've recently come across the expression "celestial openness" used to refer to high receptiveness of a child's mind:

  • Dr. Kuhl talks about the ‘celestial openness’ of a child’s mind, and explores how we are ‘geniuses’ in language acquisition until age 7. The openness of an infant’s mind makes them a ‘citizen of the world’ (able to perceive sounds from all languages) vs. ‘culture bound listeners’ (only able to perceive sounds from their culture)—see http://www.wimp.com/linguisticgenius/. This openness to hearing all sounds is already diminishing by 12 months of age, and as we grow, we become ‘culture bound listeners’—we lose our ability to be open.

From: drphilipbennett.com

The are other other usage instances on the web about this expression which appears to be a quite recent one.


1) When and by whom was "celestial openness" coined.

2) What is the formal, scientific expression which corresponds to "celestial openness"?


1 Answer 1


Patricia Kuhl attributes the phrase to romantic writers and poets, but it's possible that she herself translated celestial openness from another language (perhaps from one of the papers collected in this book), as many of the occurrences of the phrase on the Web lead back to her. (Searching for the phrase on Google Ngrams or COCA doesn't turn up any results.)

The formal scientific term for the celestial openness exhibited by babies' minds is neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity. The extreme neuroplasticity typical of infants is attributed to synaptic proliferation, "the prenatal overproduction of synapses that gives a young brain its incredible adaptability."

  • Yes, it could be literally translated to "celestial openness", or it may be loosely/poetically translated to "celestial openness". The original text may have been "universal openness" or "limitless curiosity" or "boundless acceptance"... Without more of the back story, we will never know.
    – Tim Ward
    Jan 18, 2016 at 23:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.