How the mind works: Steven Pinker


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How the mind works: Steven Pinker PDF

Autor: Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, a native of Montreal, studied experimental psychology at McGill University and Harvard University. After serving on the faculties of Harvard and Stanford universities he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Professor of
Psychology and Director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience. Pinker has studied many aspects of language and of visual cognition, with a focus on language acquisition in children. He is a fellow of several scientific societies, and has been awarded research prizes from the the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, a teaching prize from MIT, and book prizes from the American Psychological Association, the Linguistics Society of America and the
Los Angeles Times. His classic The Language Instinct is also available in Penguin.

Why the audacious title? The linguist Noam Chomsky once suggested that our ignorance can be divided into problems and mysteries. When we face aproblem, we may not know its solution, but we have insight, increasing knowledge, and an inkling of what we are looking for. When we face a mystery, however, we can only stare in wonder and bewilderment, not knowing what an explanation would even look like. I wrote this book because dozens of mysteries of the mind, from mental images to romantic love, have recently been upgraded to problems (though there are still some mysteries, too!). Every idea in the book may turn out to be wrong,
but that would be progress, because our old ideas were too vapid to be wrong.

The opening chapter presents the big picture: that the mind is a system of organs of computation designed by natural selection to solve the problems faced by our evolutionary ancestors in their foraging way of life. Each of the two big ideas—computation and evolution—then gets a chapter. I dissect the major faculties of the mind in chapters on perception, reasoning, emotion, and social relations (family, lovers, rivals, friends, acquaintances, allies, enemies). A final chapter discusses our higher callings: art, music, literature, humor, religion, and philosophy. There is no chapter on language; my previous book The Language Instinct covers the topic in a complementary way.

How the mind works: Steven Pinker


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