The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language

Overview

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 ...
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The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Donna Seaman
Turner, a professor of English with a passion for cognitive studies, proposes new and intriguing interpretations of the workings of the mind and the evolution of language and grammar. "The literary mind is the fundamental mind," he states, then launches into a complex explanation of how thoughts take the form of stories, or parables, and how parables are the vehicle for comprehension and organization of experiences. Turner illustrates his definition of the parable--stories with an associative purpose--as the most basic habit of mind in discussions of the tales of Shahrazad and the novels of Proust, but he also dissects such subtle properties of parable as its illumination of space and time. He concludes by rejecting the notion of grammar's being inherent in the genetic code, as theorized by Noam Chomsky, and declares, instead, that parable is the wellspring of grammar. Recommended where literary theory has an audience.
From the Publisher

"By blending neuroscience and literary history in The Literary Mind, Turner has created a story of his own, certain to set billions of neurons firing....[An] audacious and remarkable book. "--Toronto Globe and Mail

"Turner argues his case with brilliance and tenacity. I for one am convinced."--Philosophy and Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195104110
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1260L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Turner is Institute Professor and Professor and Chair of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University.

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Table of Contents

1. Bedtime with Shahrazad
2. Human Meaning
3. Body Action
4. Figured Tales
5. Creative Blends
6. Many Spaces
7. Single Lives
8. Language
Notes
Further Reading on Image Schemas
Index

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