Steven Pinker - The Stuff Of Thought
Posted: 13 June 2012 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22

I just picked up this book from Barnes And Noble, and after reading through the first two chapters, I have to say that I love the book. I have a whole new appreciation for linguistics thanks to how he describes using verbs to ferret out details about how the human mind works. It’s a book that I definitely will have to read more than once to really grasp, though - it’s not light reading, to say the least.

I am a bit surprised to see that it apparently had a brief time on the New York Times Bestseller List, because I would not expect that a book as challenging as this would be palatable by enough people for it to sell well enough to get on that list.

But then again, maybe I’m just a bit slow?

Anyway, here’s a TED talk in which Pinker gives a brief overview of the book:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjQM8PzCEY0

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14

Yeah, all of Pinker’s stuff is great.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2291
Joined  2007-07-05

Is “God” a verb.

Does that word affect thinking?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2343374.Tyranny_Of_Words#other_reviews

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29

Never read that one. And I don’t think I am ever going to, as I found Pinker’s last book a huge disappointment. I am still upset for wasting all that time reading The Better Angels.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22
George - 13 June 2012 12:09 PM

Never read that one. And I don’t think I am ever going to, as I found Pinker’s last book a huge disappointment. I am still upset for wasting all that time reading The Better Angels.

This is the first Pinker book that I’ve read. What about The Better Angels do you remember not liking?

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14
TromboneAndrew - 13 June 2012 12:25 PM

This is the first Pinker book that I’ve read. What about The Better Angels do you remember not liking?

There’s a thread on that book HERE if you’re interested. Though probably my favorite Pinker book is his Language Instinct, which is where his true expertise lies.

EDIT TO ADD: and Blank Slate, where he gets into some real academic controversies.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29

Agreed with Doug, The Blank Slate and The Language Instinct are probably his best books. The Better Angels is, IMO, a big mess.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22

Okay, thanks for the statements on Pinker’s other books. When I finish this one, if I like it still, I may go check out his other stuff that you guys recommended here.

I suspect that the chapter that I just finished, No. 2, may be the densest part of the book, due to the emphasis on analyzing linguistic puzzles. I’ll give my impressions on the rest of it as I get there.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2588
Joined  2011-04-24

I read The Blank Slate a while ago, and thought it was pretty good.

So far, it’s the only Pinker book I’ve read; for some reason, I can’t bring myself to buy The Stuff of Thought.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2012 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2291
Joined  2007-07-05

Steven Pinker is no more right about Benjamin Lee Whorf than was Chomsky. They both misrepresented the man’s views and then knocked over their own straw men, adding argumentum ad hominem when their reasoning was too weak. In this paper, I’ll focus first on responding to some of what Pinker said about Whorf in the third chapter of The Language Instinct (55-82). Then, I’ll submit my own views on language and thinking.

http://www.solopassion.com/node/2783

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2012 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22

Okay, I have recently finished the book and I found it to be a great read as long as I didn’t try to fly through it without actually thinking about what was written. I would definitely recommend it for someone who likes to think very analytically.

As for the criticism that psik mentioned, I don’t think that Pinker meant for his examples of wrong studies to be denigrating dismissals of other works; rather, he uses them respectfully to present a fairly common but wrong way of thinking about an aspect of linguistics and thought (which nevertheless had to be tested out so we can find out that they’re wrong) and contrasts them with his solutions. And, just as often, he praises other studies, too, for getting things right.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile