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Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures on Mind and Culture

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Overview

Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its current fixation on mind as 'information processor, ' has led psychology away from the deeper objective of understanding mind as a creator of meanings.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

[Bruner] argues that psychology should return to human concerns, especially the role of culture in shaping our thoughts and the language we use to express them... [He] seems to have read and assimilated everyone else's ideas on the topics he discusses. He can-and does-allude to them in context, so that we are constantly rubbing elbows with the giants on whose shoulders he stands. Erudite and recondite, the text glistens with Bruner's bold style.
— Dava Sobel

Washington Times

Bruner again demonstrates his impressive range of interest as he proposes nothing less than to set the essential agenda for psychology today...Bruner aims his manifesto not at the behaviorists—he considers that struggle long since won—but at those members of his own cognitive party who have sold their souls to the computer...[He] describes how psychology can rededicate itself to the study of meaning and its formation. Having spent an illustrious career ascending the mountain, he now takes an elder statesman's panoramic view...Those interested in the current debates in psychology will find [this] book provocative and stimulating.
— Paul Buttenwieser

Harvard Educational Review
Acts of Meaning, written by one of the most distinguished thinkers in human development, is an insightful summary of the past trends in the field, and is, perhaps, a prophetic glimpse into the future. Bruner's breadth of knowledge makes for thought-provoking and enjoyable reading for anyone interested in human culture.
Choice
[An] extended, contemplative essay on the role played by narrative in the construal of meaning. In [this] work, Bruner elaborates on the failure of cognitive science in abandoning 'meaning-making' for 'information processing,' and its attendant concentration on computational logic...Bruner, as one of the most influential psychologists of this century, makes an important statement well worth reading.
Contemporary Psychology

An engaging, provocative, and knowing book.
— William Kessen

New York Times Book Review - Dava Sobel
[Bruner] argues that psychology should return to human concerns, especially the role of culture in shaping our thoughts and the language we use to express them... [He] seems to have read and assimilated everyone else's ideas on the topics he discusses. He can--and does--allude to them in context, so that we are constantly rubbing elbows with the giants on whose shoulders he stands. Erudite and recondite, the text glistens with Bruner's bold style.
Washington Times - Paul Buttenwieser
Bruner again demonstrates his impressive range of interest as he proposes nothing less than to set the essential agenda for psychology today...Bruner aims his manifesto not at the behaviorists--he considers that struggle long since won--but at those members of his own cognitive party who have sold their souls to the computer...[He] describes how psychology can rededicate itself to the study of meaning and its formation. Having spent an illustrious career ascending the mountain, he now takes an elder statesman's panoramic view...Those interested in the current debates in psychology will find [this] book provocative and stimulating.
Contemporary Psychology - William Kessen
An engaging, provocative, and knowing book.
Library Journal
A psychologist and educator, and a pioneer in the field of cognition, Bruner provides an outline for a new synthesis of inquiry into mind and culture. The book consists of the 1989-90 Jerusalem-Harvard lectures divided into four chapters. The first, ``The Proper Study of Man,'' is a critique of the current antihistorical,anticultural bias of cognitive psychology, especially its information-processing model of the mind. ``Folk Psychology as an Instrument of Culture'' asserts that culturally shaped notions, stories, and narratives organize experience and manage expectations. ``Entry into Meaning'' views the beginnings of social understanding as a capacity to render experience in terms of narrative discourse (to be in a culture is to be in a set of connecting stories). Finally, ``Autobiography and Self'' illustrates the classic concept of Self from the perspective of cultural psychology--that ``selves are not isolated nuclei of consciousness locked in the head, but are `distributed' interpersonally.'' A challenging manifesto for a cultural psychology by a major figure in the field.-- William Abrams, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.
Booknews
Renowned psychologist Bruner (NYU) presents a critique of the fractionated state of psychology today and, at the same time, lays the theoretical foundations for a new synthesis of inquiry into mind and culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674003613
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/2007
  • Series: Jerusalem Lectures Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 974,536
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome Bruner is University Professor at New York University and the author of many books, including Acts of Meaning; On Knowing; The Process of Education; and Toward a Theory of Instruction (all published by Harvard).
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Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

One

The Proper Study of Man

Two

Folk Psychology as an Instrument of Culture

Three

Entry into Meaning

Four

Autobiography and Self

Notes

Subject Index

Name Index

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