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The Hand: How it Shapes the Brain, Language and Human Culture Hardcover – 1 Sep 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 397 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books Inc; 1 edition (1 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679412492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679412496
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 3.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,126,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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

From the Author

Interested in readers' "hand stories."
Since the publication of this book, I have received e-mails from a number of people offering personal stories of experiences involving their hands. Some listeners to broadcasts in which I have participated seem to share my concerns about proposals to replace traditional learning experiences in school with computer and internet-based activities. I continue to be greatly interested in personal stories and in educational issues and will respond to all inquiries/comments on these subjects. I am puzzled that no substantive objections seem to have been raised to large-scale efforts to "wire" the classrooms of schools whose students are young children. What exactly are the results being sought by the advocates, how exactly will "virtual" experiences be integrated into other kinds of learning, and what is the research that supports such a radical (and expensive) strategy?

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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully written, bristling with scientific integrity - what a massive piece of work writing this must have been. Thanks to Frank Wilson for putting it out in the public domain.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought as present for a surgeon, was a really good read apparently
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