The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature

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Penguin, 2007 - Psychology - 499 pages
31 Reviews
New York Timesbestselling author Steven Pinker possesses that rare combination of scientific aptitude and verbal eloquence that enables him to provide lucid explanations of deep and powerful ideas. His previous books—including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blank Slate—have catapulted him into the limelight as one of today’s most important and popular science writers.

Now, in The Stuff of Thought, Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best: language and human nature. The result is a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. What does swearing reveal about our emotions? Why does innuendo disclose something about relationships? Pinker reveals how our use of prepositions and tenses taps into peculiarly human concepts of space and time, and how our nouns and verbs speak to our notions of matter. Even the names we give our babies have important things to say about our relations to our children and to society.

With his signature wit and style, Pinker takes on scientific questions like whether language affects thought, as well as forays into everyday life—why is bulk e-mail called spam and how do romantic comedies get such mileage out of the ambiguities of dating? The Stuff of Thoughtis a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of readers of everything from The Selfish Geneand Blinkto Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jimocracy - LibraryThing

This book really made me think about thought and about human language. I especially enjoyed the chapter on profanity. Admittedly, some parts of the book were dry for my tastes but in a lot of places, the author made some very good analyses and seemed to show some real insight. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JenneB - LibraryThing

My favorite chapter was "Games People Play" which is all about how people save face by asking for things in indirect ways. "If you know that I've asked you for sex and have been turned down, and I ... Read full review

Contents

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1
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25
III
89
IV
153
V
235
VI
279
VII
323
VIII
373
IX
427
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About the author (2007)

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching and scientific research, Pinker is Peter de Florez professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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