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The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language par [Turner, Mark]
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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

An incredibly rich overview of Turner's newest ideas, offering scholars in both the humanities and cognitive sciences an excellent tutorial on the literary mind. (Raymond Gibbs, Jr., Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz)

Outstanding. This book will be a marvellous way for people to get into cognitive science. (Suzanne E. Kemmer, Professor of Linguistics, Rice University)

Turner's forceful book starts by showing how we use storying and metaphor to understand everything from pouring a cup of coffee to Proust. It ends with the splendidly bold claim that this storying, literary mind comes first, before all other kinds of thought, even language itself. Adventurous and convincing, Turner's work launches a new understanding, not only of literature, but of what it is to have a human brain. To read it is to think about thinking in a way you never have. (Norman N. Holland, Marston-Milbauer Professor of English, University of Florida)

A garden of many delights to be enjoyed by literary and scientific minds? An elegant bridge between two worlds? Other mixed (blended) metaphors apply to this book provided they tell the reader that this is an intelligent text, equally valuable to literary scholars and cognitive scientists. (Antonio R. Damasio, Professor of Neurology, University of Iowa, and author of "Descartes' Error")

Présentation de l'éditeur

We usually consider literary thinking to be peripheral and dispensable, an activity for specialists: poets, prophets, lunatics, and babysitters. Certainly we do not think it is the basis of the mind. We think of stories and parables from Aesop's Fables or The Thousand and One Nights, for example, as exotic tales set in strange lands, with spectacular images, talking animals, and fantastic plots--wonderful entertainments, often insightful, but well removed from logic and science, and entirely foreign to the world of everyday thought. But Mark Turner argues that this common wisdom is wrong. The literary mind--the mind of stories and parables--is not peripheral but basic to thought. Story is the central principle of our experience and knowledge. Parable--the projection of story to give meaning to new encounters--is the indispensable tool of everyday reason. Literary thought makes everyday thought possible. This book makes the revolutionary claim that the basic issue for cognitive science is the nature of literary thinking.

In The Literary Mind, Turner ranges from the tools of modern linguistics, to the recent work of neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Gerald Edelman, to literary masterpieces by Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Proust, as he explains how story and projection--and their powerful combination in parable--are fundamental to everyday thought. In simple and traditional English, he reveals how we use parable to understand space and time, to grasp what it means to be located in space and time, and to conceive of ourselves, other selves, other lives, and other viewpoints. He explains the role of parable in reasoning, in categorizing, and in solving problems. He develops a powerful model of conceptual construction and, in a far-reaching final chapter, extends it to a new conception of the origin of language that contradicts proposals by such thinkers as Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker. Turner argues that story, projection, and parable precede grammar, that language follows from these mental capacities as a consequence. Language, he concludes, is the child of the literary mind.

Offering major revisions to our understanding of thought, conceptual activity, and the origin and nature of language, The Literary Mind presents a unified theory of central problems in cognitive science, linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. It gives new and unexpected answers to classic questions about knowledge, creativity, understanding, reason, and invention.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1060 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 196 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 019512667X
  • Editeur : Oxford University Press; Édition : Revised ed. (17 décembre 1998)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004WN4WIC
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.3 étoiles sur 5 8 commentaires
32 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A startling and fresh view of cogntion 26 juin 2001
Par Mark Mills - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I'm giving this book a 5 star rating because of the first 3 chapters. You really don't have to read any more. After that, the author gradually seems to lose his direction and punch, but it really doesn't matter.
The book attempts a very difficult project, investigating the cognitive aspects of story telling. It seems simple enough on the surface, but quickly gets enmeshed in stories about stories. It gets very confusing.
Turner holds that stories are based on the combination of cognitive elements called 'schemas' and a cognitive process called 'projection'. An image schema might be a 'ball flying through the air' or 'a boy talking to his mother.' Schemas have their own intrisic value and emotional content. Via 'projection', schemas transfer their 'content' and 'emotion' onto entirely different schemas such as 'a baby horse talking to its mother.'
Turner's examples are excellent, particularly his parables. For a somewhat more complete study of cognitive aspects, look at Lakoff and Johnson's 'Philosophy in the Flesh'. Lakoff and Johnson avoid the technical term 'image schema' and use the more familiar term 'metaphor.'
Here is a quote from the introduction that gives a good outline of the book's project: "Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized as stories. The mental scope of story is magnified by projection - one story helps us make sense of another. The projection of one story onto another is parable, a basic cognitive principle that shows up everywhere, from simple actions like telling time to complex literaray creations like Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu.'...
35 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Documentary mind. 30 avril 2000
Par Jamie Alexander - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Eight pages before the close of his story Mr. Turner grants that his thesis is "trivially true" and characterizes his work as "a gesture toward documenting it." One wonders if he means to document its truth or its triviality. Nevertheless, this book is worth a read. I suggest you borrow a copy from the library, read the first two chapters and the last, and then decide if you want to own it. Once you get his idea of the small story projected through parable, you don't really need his 100 pages of examples, entertaining though they may be.
It's a shame, because I think he sells himself short. I think he has a plausible thesis that is potentially very significant; not at all trivial. But he plays to his own strength and glosses over the difficult. His theory of language origins is fascinating, but it needs further support and clarification. His anti-Chomskyan argument is quite likely correct, but he spends pages disposing of a Darwinian gradualism that is rapidly being displaced by complexity theory, with which he seems unfamiliar, or at least chooses not to address.
Can he really believe his own theory trivial? His exposition on tense belies the possibility. His book raises important questions; promises new understandings. His modesty does not serve. This modest contribution could have been much more.
Five stars for originality and potential significance of his ideas, minus two for the awkward and bulky attempt at induction and for what is left out.
35 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 O Occam - where is thy razor? 17 mars 2003
Par Karl - Publié sur
Format: Broché
As previous reviewers have observed, though this book is eight chapters long you really don't need to read the whole book to get the message - because however radical some readers may think it, the basic idea really doesn't amount to much.
To summarise the whole business:
1. Chomsky says that we can only explain grammar by assuming the existence of a mental organ which no-one has identified or located and wich, according to Chomsky, sprang into existence without the benefit of precursor or the influence of natural selection, just "appeared".
2. Pinker and Bloom have modified the gross unlikelihood of any such event by invoking natural selection as the "father" of grammar.
3. Both views of both incredibly unlikely (though not impossible), says Turner, and "trades Occam's razor for God's magic hat".
4. The mythical grammar organ is not needed because understanding how parable works can explain the rise of both language and grammar.
The rest of the book rambles on, and on, AND ON, about not much more than the idea that we can understand why parables are comprehensible by understanding that meaning does not transfer directly from the source (the parable) to the target ("real" life) but goes through an intermediate "blending" process.
This conflicts, somewhat, with the sweeping claims in the Preface:
"In this book, I investigate the mechanisms of parable. I explore technical details of the brain sciences and the mind sciences that cast light on our use of parable as we think, invent, plan, decide, reason, imagine and persuade. I analyze the activity of parable, inquire into its origin, speculate about its biological and developmental bases, and demonstrate its range. In the final chapter, I explore the possibility that language is not the source of parable but instead its complex product."
Well, I came to the book prepared to agree with Professor Turner's proposition, and I still do - but NOT on the basis of this thin volume.
Not surprisingly, despite the small font, in only 166 pages (plus notes), the book tends to skim its subject in all areas. And the fact that the author keeps going back to describe the source -> blending space -> target model - without a single diagram! (how "literary" can you get) - serves to minimise the space available for any other discussion.
It would also help if the writer had a better grasp of the English language. Numerous expressions which he seems to think are every day language read as though they were invented to fit the discussion, such as "he had almost arrived at the point of having the job in hand".
His translation of Proust produces the phrase "I must have overslept myself" - perfect Hercule Poirot, but not regular English, I think.
And he has begun to rewrite the English language so as to use phrases like "When we see someone startle as he looks in some direction ...". Now a person can BE startled, and a person can startle someone or something else, such as the proverbial horses; but I must confess that I was not aware that someone could startle.
My point, pedantic as these criticisms may appear, is that I got the *impression* that the book was written in a hurry and never properly edited by the author. Should that last quotation have actually read "When we see someone start as ..." for example?
In practise, the book itself, short though it is, might have benefitted considerably from the use of Occam's razor.
So, an interesting thesis, *some* good supporting material, but seriously undermined as a whole by poor presentation.
Definitely one for the academics.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting Thesis with Numbing Supporting Evidence 1 avril 2014
Par Richard B. Schwartz - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I will try to be as clear as I can with regard to a book that is both obvious in certain respects and endlessly convoluted in others. The book’s thesis is that the ‘literary mind’, the mind that thinks in terms of stories and parables, is The Mind, not an adjunct to it or a development from it. Fundamentally, we think in terms of stories and we should acknowledge that. This point is then used to undercut the notion of a Chomskyan universal grammar or a Pinkerian universal grammar via natural selection. That grammar, Turner argues, comes from storytelling. “With story, projection, and their powerful combination in parable, we have a cognitive basis from which language can originate” (p. 168).

The latter point, if true, is quite interesting. It is certainly plausible that storytelling is at the root of everything, particularly if you are willing to take simple statements and then demonstrate the storytelling elements implicit in them. Most of the book consists of elaboration of the original claim through the use of endless examples, examples that represent variations of the kinds of statements that one might make.

My initial response is that there are statements that are not, implicitly, stories and that one could construct a grand schema for human perception and intellection in which all is not reducible to stories but rather to something else, for example, mathematical calculations or sex. A clever person, however (and Turner is certainly clever) can turn mathematical statements or sexual urgings into stories, so we’re back where he wished to start. On the one hand this is quite attractive. I certainly want to believe that storytelling is central to human experience, intellection and communication, but that is so ‘basic’ in a sense as to be trivial. Once you convert everything into storytelling you have explained ‘everything’, but then, of course, you have not yet explained a great number of things—the etiology of certain diseases, the actual nature of consciousness, the ultimate nature of physical reality.

The book is complicated by the author’s use of nonce words (parabolic, e.g., in relation to parables rather than parabolas), or common words with specialized meanings (‘projection’, ‘parables’ themselves). In some ways this is like reading literary theory from the 1980’s heavily inflected by the thought of the French Nietzscheans. One feels that sentences have somehow been left out, arguments short-circuited, even though the text is filled with ‘definitive’ statements. Ultimately, this is very dry neuroscience, not in the sense of dull neuroscience but in the sense of non-wet neuroscience. The author is attempting to explain, in detail, how the brain works, except we never get into the brain (except for some echoes of the thought of Damasio and Edelman). We observe forms of speech and forms of stories and then attempt to infer what is really going on, confirming our claims through the adducing of hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of examples.

The text reads like this: “In the source action-story, there is a causal link between the actor who tears something down and the event of tearing down. This structure is image-schematic. In the target event-story, there is a causal link between the wind and the falling of the trees. This structure is image-schematic. Projecting one onto the other creates no clash in the target, since they match.” If you are prepared to read 168 pp. of such material, you will love this book. Alternatively, you can read a chapter or two and take it on faith that the author is capable of buttressing his fundamental claims with a plethora of examples.

I would like to read an extended account of Turner’s ideas by a John Searle or a Steven Pinker, with full contextualization of his insights within the debates of contemporary linguistics and neuroscience. I like Turner’s fundamental thesis, but I find his endless array of examples something that, in the end, I have to take on faith because ultimately they strike me as too clever by half. The reader is buried in verbiage rather than shown opposing ideas in full and fair detail.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Both Revolutionary and Intuitive 18 février 2012
Par InfinitelyImprobable - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Turner's book meets both of the gold standards for science writing - and don't mistake this book for anything other than science writing. He takes as his topic the meaning of language, and how it is we are able to use language and thoughts in meaningful ways, and both vividly and clearly portrays a major shift in scholars' thinking on the subject. But he is also interesting, not only easy to read but fascinating to read, precisely because his ideas are so intuitively correct and his framework for understanding human minds is, gratifyingly, actually about humans. This sets it at marked contrast to most of the cognitive science and neuroscience writing of the past forty years, which paints a picture of people as robots - as machines for processing information, absorbing sensory information as input and producing behavior as output. Turner not only turns that idea on its head by presenting a radically incompatible idea of how the mind works, but shows how inadequate the idea of 'information processing' is to describe the behavior of a human mind.

Centrally, the book is about story-telling. Turner describes three basic elements of the way we experience the world and interact with it by means of our minds: story, projection, and parable. Stories are how we describe (people are actors, places are stages or settings, and so on), how we remember, how we choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Projection is the ability to relate the structure of one story, encountered many times - perhaps that of 'pouring into a container' or of 'throwing a ball' and fill in the roles of actors, places, and objects. For this reason, when I throw a ball to you and you throw it back to me, we know the same thing is going on even though none of the individual things we see or hear is the same. Parable is the culmination of the two: parable is the telling of stories (to yourself, to someone else) to guide the way you think and act now or in the future. Parable lets us understand morality tales as about our lives, lets us imagine The ends of our current stories based on other stories we've heard or experienced, and so decide that maybe we should take the backroads home if the interstate is so crowded.

Turner also confronts the alternative views. He ends his book by presenting an account (a story!) of how language might have evolved in humans, and points out the failures and contradictions of more traditional accounts by Chomsky, Pinker, Blume, and others. For anyone interested in the human mind or language, this book is one of the most interesting, original works of mental artistry to be published in the last twenty years.
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