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Actual Minds, Possible Worlds

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Table of Contents

Preface PART 1: TWO NATURAL KINDS 1. Approaching the Literary 2. Two Modes of Thought 3. Possible Castles PART 2: LANGUAGE AND REALITY 4. The Transactional Self 5. The Inspiration of Vygotsky 6. Psychological Reality 7. Nelson Goodman's Worlds 8. Thought and Emotion PART 3: ACTING IN CONSTRUCTED WORLDS 9. The Language of Education 10. Developmental Theory as Culture Afterword Appendix: A Reader's Retelling of "Clay" by James Joyce Notes Credits Index

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A splendid book, one which should contribute to the important reorientation that is taking place between psychology and the literary arts. -- Howard Gardner Bruner is not only a psychologist of high distinction, but a destroyer of disciplinary fences; his philosophical inquiries are as persuasive as they are humane, arid he carries his great learning with a charming lack of pretentiousness. -- Frank Kermode

About 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).


A brilliant synthesis of contemporary anthropology, sociology, literary theory, and philosophy as well as psychology. -- Michael Stern San Francisco Chronicle This delightful volume invites the reader into dialogue with one of the most imaginative, articulate, and broadly sophisticated scholars of the present era. Bruner...draws on his wealth of knowledge in psychology, linguistics, literary theory, and other domains to weave a rich tapestry of interrelated themes. The essays treat such topics as narrative thought, transactional theory of child development, constructivism, education, and literary criticism. What will surely be the most controversial proposal of the volume is that the human mind is equipped with two modes of cognitive processing, the one paradigmatic (designed to develop propositions subject to empirical test) and the other narrative (designed to comprehend and develop stories). The essays themselves are finely honed narratives, engaging and personal. -- K. J. Gergen Choice It is perhaps possible to describe Bruner as being an intellectual by inclination, a cognitive psychologist eminent in his trade and an ardent academic who has spent his life questing for problems to solve and questions to pose. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds reflects all these interests and approaches as he debates how we create reality, possible worlds from actual minds. It is a book that raises many important problems and pertinent questions...[and] these essays will provide the reader with a stimulating journey...Bruner, as well as being an eclectic intellectual, is an indefatigable psychologist with many facets to his lifetime involvement in exploring the mind...[He] has a prose style that is elegant, professional and delightful...For those interested in liberal approaches to the development of mind and the mind's creative capacity for constructing imaginative acts it provides a provocative and stimulating discussion. -- Margaret Martlew British Journal of Psychology Remarkably ambitious...[Bruner] necessarily takes cognitive psychology into the realms of philosophy, narrative, and literary theory, and to the largest questions about knowledge and mind...Admirable and moving. -- Nancy Mergler and Ronald Schleifer, Modern Language Notes The human mind is everywhere at work, in daily life, in myth, in art, in science, in politics, showing a diversity and depth that cannot be reproduced in laboratory experiments. In order to get a comprehensive picture, the rigorous but narrow experimental approach must be supplemented by the breadth of the humanistic disciplines. This is what Bruner argues and what he exemplifies in Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. -- Dan Sperber Times Literary Supplement Bruner has combined his own academic gregariousness with a drive to fit his work into the canon of current Western thought... The mysteries of structuralism, deconstruction and pragmatism are unraveled here in the light of Bruner's lifelong efforts to make sense of the way we make sense of things...He makes culture here like a master. -- Christina Robb Boston Globe

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