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

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Penguin, Sep 11, 2007 - Psychology - 512 pages
16 Reviews
This New York Times bestseller is an exciting and fearless investigation of language from the author of Better Angels of Our Nature and The Sense of Style and the forthcoming Enlightenment Now

"Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty."
-New York Times Book Review

Bestselling 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 popular science writers. In The Stuff of Thought, Pinker presents a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. Considering scientific questions with examples from everyday life, The Stuff of Thought is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of everything from The Selfish Gene and Blink to 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

METAPHORS AND MINDS
IN THE WORLD OR IN THE HEAD?
WHERE DO NEW WORDS COME FROM?
MYSTERIES OF THE UNNAMED AND THE UNNAMEABLE
PROJECT STEVE REVISITED
POTTYMOUTHS
THE BLASPHEMING BRAIN
THOUGHTS ABOUT GODS DISEASE FILTH AND SEX

THOUGHTS ABOUT MOVING AND CHANGING
THOUGHTS ABOUT HAVING KNOWING AND HELPING
THOUGHTS ABOUT ACTING INTENDING AND CAUSING
SMART SPEAKERS OR SMART LANGUAGE?
A LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT?
OUR COGNITIVE QUIRKS
EXTREME NATIVISM
RADICAL PRAGMATICS
LINGUISTIC DETERMINISM
THOUGHTS ABOUT SUBSTANCE
THOUGHTS ABOUT SPACE
THOUGHTS ABOUT TIME
THOUGHTS ABOUT CAUSALITY
PURE AND APPLIED
KILLJOYS AND MESSIAHS
METAPHOR MATTERS
THE MESSIAH OF METAPHOR
BENEATH THE METAPHOR
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
FIVE WAYS TO CUSS
SWEARING CON AND PRO
TÊTE À TÊTE
THE LOGIC OF POLITENESS
VAGUENESS DENIABILITY AND OTHER STRATEGIES OF CONFLICT
THOUGHTS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
THE LOGIC OF NOTSOPLAUSIBLE DENIAL
THE PARADOX OF RATIONAL IGNORANCE
1 WORDS AND WORLDS
2 DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
3 FIFTY THOUSAND INNATE CONCEPTS AND OTHER RADICAL THEORIES OF LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT
4 CLEAVING THE AIR
5 THE METAPHOR METAPHOR
6 WHATS IN A NAME?
7 THE SEVEN WORDS YOU CANT SAY ON TELEVISION
8 GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
9 ESCAPING THE CAVE
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About the author (2007)

Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.

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