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Vonèche, J.J. (1987). The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution, by Howard Gardner, New York: Basic Books, 1985, xv + 423 pages, £15.95. Free Associations, 1(8):137-144.
(1987). Free Associations, 1(8):137-144
The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution, by Howard Gardner, New York: Basic Books, 1985, xv + 423 pages, £15.95
Review by: J. Jacques Vonèche
Howard Gardner has the knack of making every one of his readers feel smart. Book after book, this prolific writer manages to give his readership the impression of being on top of the things he discusses, be it art, intelligence, structuralism or cognitivism, a series of topics considered difficult and abstruse.
Contrary to a widespread opinion in most scholarly circles, such a capacity to popularize abstract ideas is rare, precious and difficult to acquire. It requires a sense for simplification as well as one for empathizing with the ideas of two opposite others: the public at large and vanguard scientists. Gardner is superb in this not too easy task. As a master of ceremony for ‘advanced’ ideas, he manages to provide both excitement and clarity. No little achievement, of course.
But the main drawback of such a rare ability could be a tendency towards oversimplification of issues which are sometimes complex. This is the case with this book. However, Gardner should not be quarrelled with for this, considering the difficulty of the task.
More important, the subtitle is misleading. Although it is called A History of the Cognitive Revolution, never does Howard Gardner operate as a historian.
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