For our March meeting we will be discussing the book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker.
Experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist Pinker is fascinated by the symbiosis between language and thought. In this stimulating volume…he argues for the "real-world importance" of "the relation of language to our inner and outer worlds." Anchoring his discussion of why semantics matter to 9/11 and other momentous public events, Pinker teases apart the gap between the literal meanings of words and their elaborate connotations, which leads to fresh explanations of humor, the importance of metaphors, and the significance of swearing. Some of the most mind-expanding chapters involve the subtlest, most taken-for-granted aspects of mind, namely our sense of time, space, and causality. Drawing on philosophy, evolutionary psychology, physics, neurology, anthropology, and jokes, Pinker presents a convincing theory of conceptual semantics, itemizing the "fundamental ideas" that form the "language of thought." Seaman, Donna
Our tentative future reading list is:
April: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
May: The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin
June: Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer
July: The Liar in Your Life by Robert Feldman