The Literary Mind

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byMark Turner

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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, forexample, 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 iswrong. 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 thoughtmakes 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 inparable--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 roleof 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 answersto classic questions about knowledge, creativity, understanding, reason, and invention.

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From Our Editors

In simple and traditional English, Turner ranges from the tools of modern linguistics, to the recent work of neuroscientists such as Antoio 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...

From the Publisher

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, forexample, as exotic tales set in strange lands, ...

From the Jacket

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 ...

Mark Turner is Professor of English and an affiliate of the Center for Neural and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Maryland. He has been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Humanities Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1996-97, he i...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9.49 × 6.46 × 0.87 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195104110

ISBN - 13:9780195104110

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From Our Editors

In simple and traditional English, Turner ranges from the tools of modern linguistics, to the recent work of neuroscientists such as Antoio 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

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"A lucid and engaging introduction to a complex field nobody can afford to ignore."--Discover Magazine