How the Mind Works

Front Cover
Norton, Jan 1, 1997 - Science - 660 pages
20 Reviews
A fascinating, provocative book exploring the mysteries of human thought and behavior, by the author of the acclaimed bestseller The Language Instinct.

The human mind is fantastically complex -- we often take its abilities for granted, yet few would argue that any amount of technology will ever duplicate human intelligence. How does the human mind work? How do we see in three dimensions? Why do we fall in love? How do we remember names and faces? How is it, indeed, that we ponder the nature of our own consciousness?

In this bold, extraordinary book, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists and author of the widely praised bestseller The Language Instinct, tackles the intricacies of the human mind to decipher how we think, feel, and act. Using "reverse-engineering" -- determining what natural selection designed the mind to accomplish in a hunting-and-gathering environment -- Pinker explains how the mind stores and uses information, a process that allowed our ancestors to understand and outsmart objects, animals, plants, and each other.

How the Mind Works makes sense of some of the more bewildering aspects of everyday life, such as: why is beauty important to us? How is it that we are moved to tears or laughter? Why do we feel that a run of heads makes the coin more likely to land tails? Why is self-restraint so difficult? This is a witty and compelling work, synthesizing the best of cognitive science and evolutionary biology.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SpaceyAcey - LibraryThing

Pinker explains the computational theory of the mind in easy to understand prose for the layman. It's not all literature summarizing, he also inserts some of his own ideas on all sorts of topics ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - raschneid - LibraryThing

Very interesting, well-written, and comprehensive. I appreciated the overview of both computational and evolutionary psychology in one tome of a book; computational psychology is pretty much awesome ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born U.S. experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker is the author of several non-fiction bestsellers including: The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005 and 2008; in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, and the University of Tromsų, Norway. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.

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