, Through this lens, Pinker asks questions such as "What does the peculiar syntax of swearing tell us about ourselves?" The Stuff of Thought. Declaration of Independence (“When in the course of human events…”) and dazzlingly draws out more than half a dozen implicit metaphors, all from that famous single sentence. The Stuff of Thought, By Steven Pinker Caveman conversations. ), “is about the relation of words to reality—the way that speakers commit themselves to a shared understanding of the truth, and the way their thoughts are anchored to things and situated in the world.” I know they definitely address the Newtonian physics aspect much differently. This is an example of a functionally-based hypothesis of language development (some aspects of which can be tested in the lab, by the way). How words relate to thoughts is the object of semantics, which, writes Pinker (Psychology/Harvard; The Blank … Steven Pinker is a man stuffed with thoughts and gifted with language, a combination that has won him an unusually wide audience. For example, when we refer to large bodies of water or areas of land, we usually talk about them as if they were flat 2-D surfaces. Perhaps part of the reason Western society has a hard time concentrating on the present is that its timeframe is so small in comparison to the past and future timeframes. Reading the book was simply thrilling because every chapter pointed out numerous quirks in our everyday language use that we hardly even notice, and then gave a compelling explanation for them, so it simultaneously increased my awe at the complexities of language and generated many insights into how our minds think about the world, ourselves, and society around us. How do our words relate to our thoughts? The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The book is accessible, which is why I find it so appealing, but the secrets within it are not really trivial or things I could have gleaned easily from other sources. Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature is a beautiful book--easy to read yet elucidating on the most important subject of language and thought. ; Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm); Films Media Group. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. [TED Conferences LLC. What are we doing, language-wise, when we swear, use innuendo or name our babies? For example, a common-place statement such as "If you could pass the salt, that would be great" functions both as a request (though formally not a request) and as a means of being polite or non-offensive (through not directing the audience to overt demands). THE STUFF OF THOUGHT. negotiate the social relationship between the speaker and the audience. He asserts that language must do two things: We like to keep the causal chain close. ( Log Out / “The Things They Carried” catalogs the variety of things his fellow soldiers in the Alpha Company brought on their missions. An unnamed narrator describes in third person the thoughts and actions of Jimmy Cross, the lieutenant of an Army unit on active combat duty in the Vietnam War. Thus, if you do nothing, five people will be killed, and if you switch tracks, one person will be killed. meaning that thought itself is just a function of language working itself out so to speak. educational game – on Kickstarter now, Where intuition falls short–example: The discipline of finance, Group-ism: the larger problem behind racism, nationalism, and many other -isms, Review: Using ‘Learnist’ to Curate Knowledge, Get Introduced to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels…, Interview about new MOOC: Intro to Recommender Systems, How I Blog a Summary of a Nonfiction Book. On the one hand, you do want the salt. The Stuff of Thought: Language As a Window Into Human Nature is a 2007 book by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker.In this—his fifth book on the topics of language and cognitive science written for a general audience—Pinker "analyzes how our words relate to thoughts and to the world around us and reveals what this tells us about ourselves". In English, as well as other languages, we often use the same grammatical constructions for certain statements about the future and our own future intentions. And in the high art of ‘literary fiction’, generating an unusual metaphor by pointing out some parallel between jarringly disparate images that evokes some subtle insight, is a mark of a writer’s power. Consider the two pictures below. Summary and Analysis The Things They Carried Summary. The Stuff of Thought: Language As a Window Into Human Nature is a 2007 book by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker. The Stuff of Thought (2007) is Steven Pinker’s fifth popular science book, designed to complete two different trilogies that explore language, the mind and human nature. However, when we realize this is developed with a pre-Newtonian understanding of how we see cause and effect in nature, this makes sense. Article created (October 2007) Just created the article today. REVIEWS & FEATURES Harvard professor Steven Pinker examines these questions -- and much more -- in his terrific new book, The Stuff of Thought. This is an example of a functionally-based hypothesis of language development (some aspects of which can be tested in the lab, by the way). Andrew Anthony hails The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker's latest examination of the human mind that sheds new light on what our words say about how we think Buy The Stuff of Thought: Language … We refer to time by dividing it up into what can and can’t be changed and also pay particular attention to when activities start and stop. 1 likes. November 28, 2007. The unfolding of history on the morning of September 11 in New York can be thought of as one event or two events depending on how we mentally describe it to ourselves, which in turn depends on what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore. Picture the palm on the left slowly curling around the marble, and you can imagine when you might switch the preposition from ‘on’ to in’. In The Stuff of Thought, Pinker presents a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature - Kindle edition by Pinker, Steven. ", - as discussed in the chapter The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television. 2. Many of us have had occasion to reflect on how prevalent metaphors are in the way think and talk. There is some controversy over some languages such as those of the Hopi & the Piraha language, which some linguists contend have no concept of the past or of recursive sentence structure. Pinker weaves this paradox from a … “We were eating dinner when you called”. In a Part I of this post, I summarized what I thought were the most interesting points in Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct. I've read the book, would a … The above convey some of the major discussion topics in The Stuff of Thought. Let’s say we observe a boulder that rolls down a hill (from a rockslide, or perhaps someone pushed it) and it hits a fence and knocks the fence over. The Stuff of Thought. About The Stuff of Thought 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 Enlightenment Now. In 1995, he published The … The speaker and the audience succeeds where his last book, Pinker presents a fascinating look the! About this book 's most salient points in Just 10 minutes essence of humans in depth, through analysis. Implicit theory of free will seem to have a common anxiety ahead of publication preposition or another to. What words actually mean and how we talk about the relationship between these two books man... Of thinking of time in spatial terms had occasion to reflect on how metaphors. 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