Skip to content

Your Cambridge account can now be used to log into other Cambridge products and services including Cambridge One, Cambridge LMS, Cambridge GO and Cambridge Dictionary Plus

Register Sign in Wishlist
Look Inside The Mind on Paper
eBook forthcoming

The Mind on Paper
Reading, Consciousness and Rationality

$50.99 (C)

  • Date Published: November 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107162891

$ 50.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Although the importance of literacy is widely acknowledged in society and remains at the top of the political agenda, writing has been slow to establish a place in the cognitive sciences. Olson argues that to understand the cognitive implications of literacy, it is necessary to see reading and writing as providing access to and consciousness of aspects of language, such as phonemes, words and sentences, that are implicit and unconscious in speech. Reading and writing create a system of metarepresentational concepts that bring those features of language into consciousness as a subject of discourse. This consciousness of language is essential not only to acquiring literacy but also to the formation of systematic thought and rationality. The Mind on Paper is a compelling exploration of what literacy does for our speech and hence for our thought, and will be of interest to readers in developmental psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, and education.

    • Presents a general theory of how reading and writing invite a new and distinctive consciousness of language
    • Finds a significant place for writing in the cognitive and educational sciences
    • Shows that the 'reading wars' can be resolved by a better understanding of the role of metarepresentational knowledge in reading and learning to read
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This is a highly original and compelling treatment of the effects of literacy on human consciousness, written by the world's leading expert on the cognitive consequences of literacy. The interdisciplinary approach will be of interest to scholars of cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, education, philosophy, and linguistics."
    Susan Gelman, University of Michigan

    "This substantial and original work makes a compelling argument in favour of the significance of metarepresentation for reading. It provides critical insights into the interconnections between reading, writing, and reasoning, and makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of mind. Olson's incisive argument should have important educational consequences."
    Jan Derry, UCL Institute of Education

    'In The Mind on Paper, Olson (emer., Univ. of Toronto) presents an extensively researched text that draws on myriad disciplines, including developmental psychology, education, philosophy, and the history of reading, writing, and linguistics. The author thoroughly examines the role that literacy has on human consciousness.' J. Bailey, Choice

    'This is a wonderful book … with fresh insights on every page. It should be of interest to school and university educators, to literacy scholars, to psychologists and to philosophers.' Ian Winchester, Interchange

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107162891
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction: Reading, Writing and the Mind
    1. Awakening: reading and consciousness
    Part II. Theories of the Relation between Writing and Mind:
    2. Inventing writing: the history of writing and the ontogeny of writing
    3. Dewey and the New Pragmatists: reading, writing and mind
    4. Vygotsky and the Vygotskians
    5. The cognitive science of metarepresentation
    Part III. Reading and the Invention of Language about Language:
    6. Phonemes and the alphabet
    7. The discovery of words and thinking about words
    8. Sentences and logic
    9. Prose and rational argument
    10. The testing of rationality and the rationality of testing
    Part IV. The Implications and Uses of Metarepresentational Language:
    11. The psychology and pedagogy of reading
    12. The psychology and pedagogy of rationality
    Part V. Conclusions:
    13. Reading, consciousness and rationality
    Author index
    Subject index.

  • Author

    David R. Olson, University of Toronto
    David R. Olson is University Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. He is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 300 articles on cognition, language and literacy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the National Academy of Education (US), and has been awarded honorary degrees by the University of Gothenburg, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Toronto.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.