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

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9780679740476: The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture
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"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

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Review:

The hand is, among other things, a complex symbol, representing both the creative and the prosaic. This blending of the spiritual and the mundane is what makes the hand unique, as it in turn makes us unique among animals. Neurologist Frank R. Wilson has taken on a heroic task: to explain the hand on both of these levels and to show us how we use these marvelous instruments to find and create meaning in our lives.

Anthropology, neuroscience, music, and puppetry all figure prominently in The Hand, which effortlessly guides the reader through its million-year biography. Brains and thumbs growing and changing to accommodate each other, discovering tools and language together, kicked us out of the monkey house for good. While there is still controversy over whether we are the brainiest animals on the planet, it is abundantly clear that we are the handiest.

This manipulative ability is our greatest strength and our most terrible flaw. Without hands we would have no Louvre but also no nerve gas. But, Wilson says, our situation is more complex. Our access to far greater means to achieve our ends gives us a greater hunger for meaning. We long to use our hands to satisfy our needs--whether spiritual or down-to-earth. This creation of meaning from nothing may be our greatest achievement. In the end, The Hand is brightly optimistic, showing that our reach truly does exceed our grasp. --Rob Lightner

From the Back Cover:

"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

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679412496: The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture

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ISBN 10:  0679412492 ISBN 13:  9780679412496
Publisher: Pantheon, 1998
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9780679412380: The Hand: How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture

Random..., 1998
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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Vintage Books. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780679740476

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Vintage Books. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780679740476

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