on 18 February 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.
on 5 August 1999
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.