October 26, 2007
Steven Pinker, a renowned cognitive neuroscientist, a research psychologist, and is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research on cognition and language won the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences and two prizes from the American Psychological Association. He has also received several honorary doctorates and many awards for graduate and undergraduate teaching, general achievement, and his critically acclaimed books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is also a Humanist Laureate of CFI’s International Academy of Humanism. His newest book is The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.
In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Pinker explores what our use of language can tell us about human nature. He discusses our use of metaphors, and what concepts may be innate, how the “language of thought” may be hard-wired in our brains. He also explains how to avoid the pitfalls of such hard-wiring, using the methods of science as the model.