What are the origins of human difference? The Hand, which is the first part of a bold philosophical inquiry into the nature of the difference between human beings and other animals, argues that it is the result of a complex sequence of events which began several million years ago with the evolution of the human hand.
Possession of a fully developed hand profoundly transformed the relationship of the human being to its own body, thus altering the relationship between humans and the natural world.
The interaction of the hand with the rest of the body brought about self-consciousness and laid the foundations for the unique sense of agency that is experienced by humans.
Crucially, the hand inspired the tool-use that has come to dominate human life and which has led to the emergence of the complex symbolic systems - most importantly language - that underpin civilisation.
The book also celebrates the hand in human life: the almost miraculous complexity of its manipulative, exploratory and communicative functions. Raymond Tallis combines philosophical reflection with a light-hearted look at gestures, the role of each finger, the origins of numbers - and the case for and against what he names 'handkind'.
The Hand is the first of three volumes. The other titles are I Am: A Philosophical Inquiry into First-Person Being and The Knowing Animal: A Philosophical Inquiry into Truth and Knowledge.