cover image Actual Minds, Possible Worlds: ,

Actual Minds, Possible Worlds: ,

Jerome Bruner. Harvard University Press, $29.95 (222pp) ISBN 978-0-674-00365-1

If gaining maturity means being adept at seeing the same set of events from multiple perspectives and contemplating alternative futures, then this concept of adulthood says something about the way our minds work. Bruner's ""constructivist'' approach holds that we create our own realities through our interaction with our social world and with symbols. This collection of challenging, often difficult essays takes us beyond his popular On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand, as he explores controversies in the theory of literature, linguistics, cognitive psychology and education. His argument that characters, setting and action are inseparable elements in fiction helps explain why great novels have emotional power. Literature is seen as a vehicle that opens us to dilemmas. Bruner's outlook illuminates sundry topics, from the way a teacher's stance toward the curriculum affects the learning process to the idea of culture as ``semiconnected knowledge of the world'' that enables people to arrive at acceptable ways of acting. (March)