Altering Fate

Why the Past Does Not Predict the Future

Michael Lewis

July 13, 1998
ISBN 9781572303713
Price: $32.00
238 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

“Altering Fate will rattle the fixtures—in psychology, public policy, and in daily life. Here is a provocative and compelling challenge to the popular presumption of fixed paths of development. With high style and scholarly integrity, Lewis not only demonstrates the problems inherent in the current constructions of our life trajectories, but opens us to the manifold potentials of a more contextual, fluid and protean view of human nature.”

—Kenneth Gergen, PhD, Mustin Professor of Psychology, Swarthmore College, author of Saturated Self

Altering Fate is a stunning book. It is daring and well-informed in its rejection and refutation of simple 'causal' models of human development, but the objective of the book is not just to establish an alternative 'contextualist' view. Michael Lewis's aim is much more humane than that. It is to argue for human meaning making, self-construction, and consciousness as central in human development. And he argues with skill, with detailed knowledge, and with a deep sense of moral responsibility. This book speaks not only to professional psychologists, but to anybody trying to understand how the theories of development we construct change not only our public policies, but our personal interaction with the young. Bravo!”

—Jerome Bruner, PhD, Research Professor of Psychology; Senior Research Fellow in Law, New York University, author of Acts of Meaning

“In a rich, rewarding, intellectual odyssey, Lewis challenges the orthodox paradigm of psychological development. Engaging in an exciting, but logical intellectual adventure, he exposes the myth of continuous development as little more than our need as selves to believe in continuity. Concepts of traditional development characterized by linearity, gradualism, causality and direction towards a goal, are shown to be sterile. Lewis substitutes a fertile, 'contextual' model, involving the dynamic interaction of individual and environment in an adaptive, ongoing process. His exciting formulation leads to a radical reorientation of programs for social action. This literary, aesthetically pleasing work will educate laymen and scientists alike.”

—Ira B. Black, MD, author of Information in the Brain: A Molecular Perspective