The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 176 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0670063277
ISBN-10: 0670063274
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Frequently bought together

  • The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
  • +
  • How the Mind Works by STEVEN PINKER (1998-01-01) Hardcover
  • +
  • Words And Rules: The Ingredients Of Language (Science Masters Series)
Total price: $69.89
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling Harvard psychology professor Pinker (The Blank Slate) investigates what the words we use tell us about the way we think. Language, he concludes, reflects our brain structure, which itself is innate. Similarly, the way we talk about things is rooted in, but not identical to, physical reality: human beings take the analogue flow of sensation the world presents to them and package their experience into objects and events. Examining how we do this, the author summarizes and rejects such linguistic theories as extreme nativism and radical pragmatism as he tosses around terms like content-locative and semantic reconstrual that may seem daunting to general readers. But Pinker, a masterful popularizer, illuminates this specialized material with homely illustrations. The difference between drinking from a glass of beer and drinking a glass of beer, for example, shows that the mind has the power to frame a single situation in very different ways. Separate chapters explore concepts of causality, naming, swearing and politeness as the tools with which we organize the flow of raw information. Metaphor in particular, he asserts, helps us entertain new ideas and new ways of managing our affairs. His vivid prose and down-to-earth attitude will once again attract an enthusiastic audience outside academia. (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

By examining our words, we can learn a lot about who we are. So argues Harvard academic and popular science writer Steven Pinker in The Stuff of Thought, a logical extension of his previous books. Pinker once again caters to a popular (though scientifically literate) audience, using accessible examples from jokes, Shakespeare, pop songs, and films to understand the science. One fascinating chapter explores the value of metaphors; another covers swearing (did you know that "gee whiz" is derived from "Jesus"?). A few critics tired of the myriad examples and pointed out a lack of unifying threads; others wanted more concrete answers; a couple challenged Pinker’s entire thesis that language is an accurate guide to our mind. According to them, it is as if Pinker was determined to combine his broad-based, popular science acumen with his in-depth linguistics expertiseâ€""the perfect storm" of his work. But if this book is not food for thought, then no other book of its kind is.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
176 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2013
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Reviewed in the United States on December 11, 2013
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Top international reviews

William Jordan
3.0 out of 5 stars not as gripping as The Better Angels of Our Nature...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2013
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Mr. D. James
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought's Clothing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2012
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Dana S
2.0 out of 5 stars Try Guy Claxton's Intelligence in the flesh instead
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2017
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RR Waller
4.0 out of 5 stars The Language Window - clear, opaque and translucent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2011
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Roger Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars The human mind. Not a computer.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2019
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Oor Boaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2019
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R. J. Brooker
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint-hearted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 13, 2013
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Mr. T. J. Staffell
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating stuff
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2014
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Judy Tipple
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 5, 2016
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Mike Pelton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 5, 2015
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guy holland
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2014
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Ogundayo O.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 4, 2014
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Saranya M
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas about human thought.
Reviewed in India on November 14, 2014
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Dr. Peter Schnupp
5.0 out of 5 stars Wie können Künstliche Intelligenzen uns verstehen ...?
Reviewed in Germany on October 9, 2019
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ArvindK.
4.0 out of 5 stars A disciplinary book, not for general readers
Reviewed in India on July 22, 2019
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