The left hand has traditionally represented the powers of intuition, feeling, and spontaneity. In this classic book, Jerome Bruner inquires into the part these qualities play in determining how we know what we do know; how we can help others to know—that is, to teach; and how our conception of reality affects our actions and is modified by them.
The striking and subtle discussions contained in On Knowing take on the core issues concerning man’s sense of self: creativity, the search for identity, the nature of aesthetic knowledge, myth, the learning process, and modern-day attitudes toward social controls, Freud, and fate. In this revised, expanded edition, Bruner comments on his personal efforts to maintain an intuitively and rationally balanced understanding of human nature, taking into account the odd historical circumstances which have hindered academic psychology’s attempts in the past to know man.
Writing with wit, imagination, and deep sympathy for the human condition, Jerome Bruner speaks here to the part of man’s mind that can never be completely satisfied by the right-handed virtues of order, rationality, and discipline.
In this little book Jerome Bruner…has given us a thoroughly intelligent and, in the best sense, heterodox collection of essays on a number diverse topics… This book is exciting, not merely because of its method, but also because of the topics chosen for discussion. Bruner discusses education after Dewey, the teaching of mathematics, the human control of behavior, Freud—all right-hand subjects. He also discusses creativity, art as knowing, myth and identity in the modern novel—and, in passing, death… The book is stimulating because it is the product of a lively mind that gives freedom to the cunning of the left hand as well as that of the right.
Do we know what creativity is? …I think the best book on this I have yet read, a volume slender and without pretension, is Jerome S. Bruner’s On Knowing… Apart from its wisdom and wit, apart from its stimulation, it is the very model of that nearly lost art: the essay… It is a striding book, trespassing again and again on areas hitherto surveyed, restricted, marked by the claim of the specialists: language, science, art, literature. The very juxtaposition is a creative act.
This book had its beginning in what the author calls ‘occasional pieces done for the left hand’ which signifies the dreamer, the intuitor, the hunch-follower, the artist. There is a danger in this approach to the writing of a book… By some combination of skill and sense, Bruner has…managed a happy wedding of ideas and intent… We in this country have been especially fortunate in having the best of our psychologists devote their sharpest talents to the problems of education. Inevitably they address themselves to the largest issues and Bruner is firmly in that great tradition.
Excellent essays on how we know what we know, what happens in the creative and educative process. Penetrating, easy to read and harder to understand, but thoroughly exciting when the writer’s meaning comes clear.
[A] beautifully written and eloquent set of essays… Each essay ventures boldly yet sensitively into some realm of man’s experience, frequently a realm about which psychology has had, till now, little to say. The essays range widely from a consideration of the essential structure of a creative work to an appraisal of art as a source of knowledge; and from a concern with the importance of personal acts of discovery in the educational process to an analysis of the role of knowledge in commitment and action.
- 207 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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