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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  15 reviews
"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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 14th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
A disappointment. The book promised to talk about the connection between the hand and the brain, and to reveal the hand' role in making us the brainy creatures we are today. But there is very little of neurology in here, and lots of "gee, isn't the hand an amazing bit of bioengineering!" As well as stories of people who can do remarkable things with their hands, like play the piano and juggle. OK, that's cool -- though it would be even cooler if we were talking both at once -- but not cool ...more
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Two and a half stars. This was very promising at the beginning: the story of how the evolution of the human hand led the development of the human brain. The first 4 chapters or so deliver on this promise, and are utterly fascinating. But then the book degrades into a collection of musings on human nature. I think the blame lies with the editor... this should have been a shorter and tighter book. I recommend the first half.
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The subject is fascinating, the author is a bit of a twit.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, anthropology
I liked the beginning chapters on the whole and their focus on anthropology, evolution of primate anatomy, and linguistics – particularly sign language (p.200) and apraxia (p. 205). I enjoyed Anat’s story about practicing Feldenkrais therapy (p. 247-57), but felt disappoint that Wilson’s point to telling her story was to demonstrate, “how the hands can bring an individual not into a distinctive kind of work but into transforming relationships with people and ideas” (256) –uninspired.

There was
Gary McCallister
Boring, opinionated, dry, and one-sided. Like a lot of science.
Clayton Grames
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
A very interesting premise with a fascinating main thesis but the book strays into tangents that can be hard to connect to anything meaningful. The first half was the most worth the time.
Soren Kerk
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You could not ask for more if you want to learn about the hand - and the brain.

My favorite lesson was about polypod and polylith creations. Proud to be a homo sapiens.
Jonathan Powers
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While _The Hand_ is far from being a perfect book, it never ceases to fascinate. Perhaps one third of the chapters are given over to an impressively compelling argument that the development of the human hand was the proximate stimulus for the development of the human brain. We could climb and throw and catch and manipulate before we could think or reason (in the most technical sense). Another third of the chapters discuss some the quite astonishingly varied feats of which the hand is ...more
Jim Omlid
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators, educational policy makers, parents
Recommended to Jim by: Nate Jones
The author builds a strong case for the value of incorporating hands in the learning process. He documents how the human hand evolved uniquely (the ulnar opposition) to give us special tool-making and tool-using skills; these skills gave us the ability to kill prey that added protein to our diet fueling our brain growth at a rate far beyond the brain growth of our chimpanzee cousins. We became human because of our new capacity to grasp, shape and point tools and weapons; no other creature has ...more
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-other
This book was so interesting. I didn't actually read much of it, only a few chapters and then it was due back at the library. I would like to pick it up again sometime. It was a little more techincal than I thought it would be and I wasn't completely sure I was understanding things correctly all the time, but it was interesting read.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have actually read this book all the way through! (Without understanding quite all of it.) Fascinating and worth while, in so many different directions. Just finished my paper on the hand, thank goodness.
Lindsay Evermore
Nov 19, 2010 marked it as to-read
milford orange stratford
Lilly Irani
I'm expecting this book to give me lots of scientific and athropological fodder for phenomenological theories of cognition like the kinds that Dourish and Winograd / Flores summarize.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating look at the relationship between the hand, the brain, language, and human beings, including specific implications for learning and education.
Dec 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Fascinating study of influences on the brain by actions of the hand. Good especially for pianists!
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