The Stuff of Thought

The Stuff of Thought

Language as a Window into Human Nature

By Steven Pinker

Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670063277, 512pp.

Publication Date: September 11, 2007


New York Times 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 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 Thought is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of readers of everything from The Selfish Gene and Blink to Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

About the Author

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.