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The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture

The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture [Kindle Edition]

Frank R. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

"A startling argument . . . provocative . . . absorbing." --The Boston Globe

"Ambitious . . . arresting . . . celebrates the importance of hands to our lives today as well as to the history of our species."
--The New York Times Book Review

The human hand is a miracle of biomechanics, one of the most remarkable adaptations in the history of evolution. The hands of a concert pianist can elicit glorious sound and stir emotion; those of a surgeon can perform the most delicate operations; those of a rock climber allow him to scale a vertical mountain wall. Neurologist Frank R. Wilson makes the striking claim that it is because of the unique structure of the hand and its evolution in cooperation with the brain that Homo sapiens became the most intelligent, preeminent animal on the earth.
        In this fascinating book, Wilson moves from a discussion of the hand's evolution--and how its intimate communication with the brain affects such areas as neurology, psychology, and  linguistics--to provocative new ideas about human creativity and how best to nurture it. Like Oliver Sacks and Stephen Jay Gould, Wilson handles a daunting range of scientific knowledge with a surprising deftness and a profound curiosity about human possibility. Provocative, illuminating, and delightful to read, The Hand encourages us to think in new ways about one of our most taken-for-granted assets.

"A mark of the book's excellence [is that] it makes the reader aware of the wonder in trivial, everyday acts, and reveals the complexity behind the simplest manipulation." --The Washington Post

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Quotes for The Hand
"The remarkable human hand has clearly played a fundamental role in our evolution, but it is rarely accorded the prominence it deserves in discussion of the human fossil record. In this lively and highly personal account Frank Wilson engagingly redresses the balance, restoring the hand and the structures that move it to the very center of the story, and relating them ingeniously to the cognitive uniqueness that we normally consider the hallmarks of humanity. A book for everyone curious about how we became what we are."--Ian Tattersall, author of Becoming Human

"This is a book to savor as one does a gourmet meal, not as one wolfs an oyster. It is about more than hand and brain and language and culture; it is about people, fascinating, remarkable, outstanding people, all of them individuals who have found their role in life and love it and are successful at it, and owe it all to their use of their hands and brains and bodies. Best of all, perhaps, is that Wilson sees this as able to change the world-simply by realizing that underlying language, intellect, and intelligence is the understanding that comes from hands-on experience. It is my candidate for best book of the decade." --William Stokoe, author of Simultaneous Communication, Asl, and Other Classroom Communication Modes

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2180 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (27 Oct 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00477479W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #267,759 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well argued and thoroughly absorbing... 18 Feb 2005
In this book, Frank R. Wilson presents his argument that it has been the evolution of the hand into a prehensile organ for manipulating and learning about the world, as much as greater language sophistication, which has driven and shaped the development of human culture and the brain.
Building upon the published works on the hand by the distinguished surgeon Sir Charles Bell and the anatomist Prof. Russell Napier, Wilson also draws upon the work of influential thinkers from other disciplines in support of his argument, such as Lev Vygotsky and Noam Chomsky. In doing so, he recounts a variety of anecdotal stories concerning people who rely on the skilful use of their hands for a living: a rock climber; a pupeteer; a restauranteur; magicians; a surgeon; a silversmith; a 'hot-rodding' car mechanic; a guitar player; and how, in many cases, these people overcame personal adversity and the inadequacy of traditional approaches to education to discover their own "intelligence", through having cultivated the expert use of their hands.
The book containing copious notes, personal observations and an excellent bibliography, and the author's passion for his subject is evident throughout.
I had decided to read this book, searching for a language to better articulate my own tacit knowledge about how I use my hands as a musician (I play a variety of percussion instruments which require deft use of the hands). Having now read it, I can say this book goes some way to helping do this, but that this is not its primary purpose. None-the-less, Frank R. Wilson's 'The Hand' has been an absorbing and stimulating read, which I would thoroughly recommend to others.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a neuroscientist, educator, and a Deaf person, I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Wilson's insights into how the hand shapes our lives and our brains. He raises a lot of questions yet to be investigated about how crucial the manipulation of the hands are to cognitive learning. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the questions he's raised both for normal people and those of us who use manual language over speech, and whether those choices in means of communication cause the brain to be mapped differently. Dr. Wilson writes with humor and gives fascinating insights into the worlds of people whose advocations depend upon their hands. This long neglected part of our body should now receive the attention it deserves in shaping our minds.
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5.0 out of 5 stars was a really good read 10 Dec 2014
By Dom
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought as present for a surgeon, was a really good read apparently
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5.0 out of 5 stars worth a look 25 Nov 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great, book that I can understand about an unusual topic.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre(re)view 3 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I haven't read this book yet, so this must be a pReview. I did see the PBS evening news interview with the author and was intrigued enough by that discussion to move The Hand to the top of my To Be Read List here at =Rick's Internet Cafe=.
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