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Download The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature Audiobook, by Steven Pinker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,504 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steven Pinker Narrator: Dean Olsher Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9781429589512
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New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker possesses that rare combination of scientific aptitude and verbal eloquence that enables him to provide lucid explanations of deep and powerful ideas. His previous books—including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blank Slate—have catapulted him into the limelight as one of today’s most important and popular science writers.

Now, in The Stuff of Thought, Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best: language and human nature. The result is a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. What does swearing reveal about our emotions? Why does innuendo disclose something about relationships? Pinker reveals how our use of prepositions and tenses taps into peculiarly human concepts of space and time, and how our nouns and verbs speak to our notions of matter. Even the names we give our babies have important things to say about our relations to our children and to society.

With his signature wit and style, Pinker takes on scientific questions like whether language affects thought, as well as forays into everyday life—why is bulk e-mail called spam and how do romantic comedies get such mileage out of the ambiguities of dating—The Stuff of Thought is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of readers of everything from The Selfish Gene and Blink to Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The majesty of Pinker’s theories is only one side of the story. The other side is the modesty of how he built them. It all makes sense, when you look at it the right way.”

    New York Times

  • “Pinker is not only wonderfully clear; he is also blessedly witty.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Engaging and provocative…filled with humor and fun.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “The Harvard professor’s theories of language and mind have far-reaching implications for scientist and philosophers, but his discussions here about semantic wars and metaphor battles can fascinate all of us. A major book by one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “A person with some knowledge of linguistic theory will enjoy this audio enormously; a person without it will be enriched and delighted by the book.”

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • “Dean Olsher does a great job narrating… He is confident and moderately paced when introducing new concepts and seems as tickled as Pinker when recounting linguistic silliness.”

    AudioFile

  • “Pinker’s fluency in the nuances of words and syntax serves as proof of his faith in language as ‘a window into human nature.’”

    Booklist

  • “Pinker writes clearly and has an eye for meaningful real-world examples…Call it continuing education for brain owners, an instruction manual on how thought works—and how to think better.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Артём Багинский | 2/16/2014

    " this one was really special. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nilagia | 2/2/2014

    " Interesting look at language from a cognitive-psychology view-point; after reading it, you can never say "it's just semantics" again, because there are major implications behind our every day words. I do have to warn though, that this book is quite dense, and I think being somewhat versed in semantics helped me through it; for example there are entire chapters devoted to subjects like verbs, which I think, if you weren't interested in that kind of thing, might seem excruciatingly nit-picky at times. But, it's totally worth it, especially since it sets the background for some really intriguing analysis of stuff like profanity and even the inherent sexism found in the structures of verbs describing sex acts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marcus Lira | 1/26/2014

    " Although I'm not fond of Pinker's mentalese approach, it's a very interesting book (and often quite funny as well) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dawn | 1/12/2014

    " Although Pinker's linguistic theories are slightly outdated (in my humble opinion), this book is a very interesting look into semantics, or how meaning is transmitted through language, and perhaps more importantly, how meaning is contained and carried in thought. Pinker's affinity for verbs is perhaps a little overstated, he dwells on the subject for quite some time, but nonetheless it is a very neat window into the cognitive processes behind Meaning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jac | 1/3/2014

    " Insightful analysis of language as an imperfect window into how human beings, from New Zealand to New York, see, analyze, and digest the world. Interesting tidbits on world languages and how the brain itself processes thought into language. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Rea | 12/13/2013

    " Very typical Pinker. Extremely interesting to those who find his general world view amenable; others may find it harder to digest. Me, as one of the former, I enjoyed almost every word. My only "improvement" comment is that he gives a little too much page space to jokes, humorous examples and comic strips. It would be easier to stay focused on his theses if he did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 12/7/2013

    " Listening to this on my iPod in between podcasts and other distractions. Loving the analysis of how we use language and how it's related to how we think. Still in the first quarter of the book at this point... holds true for the rest of the book as well. Definitely worth reading! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wallace | 12/5/2013

    " An entertaining, accessible view of psycholinguistics and our perception of language generally "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Pappas | 12/3/2013

    " A bit too critical of Radical Pragmatics and Linguistic Determinism for my taste, and even the work of Geroge Lakoff, but Pinker offers interesting chapters on metaphor, naming and taboo words. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marissa | 11/30/2013

    " I adored this book. Seriously, so well written and just so much fun. It was one of the first psychology books and books about how we think that truly made me start to love cognitive psychology. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 10/27/2013

    " I wish literary critics and other fans of Derrida would read more books about linguistics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Reid Siljestrom | 9/22/2013

    " A fascinating book on thinking "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Windanseabengals | 8/22/2013

    " I really like this book. It is a good discussion of beginner linguistics. Some may find it a bit long-winded, and the title is a bit of a mischaracterization, but if you like linguistics, you'll like this book "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margie | 8/2/2013

    " Too many words, but some very enjoyable jokes "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lianne | 4/27/2013

    " The ideas Pinker presents in this book blew my mind. Though it was a very heavy, intense read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before I read this, I didn't even know psycho-linguistics existed, but now that is exactly what I am interested in learning more about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan | 4/9/2013

    " In classic Pinker style, another pleasant reading experience. Though, but accessible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MarkMcgwire | 12/11/2012

    " is there a smarter human? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kinga | 1/4/2012

    " Fascinating if you interested in the language like me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Travis | 12/10/2011

    " pithy and erudite without being overly elaborate. highly recommended if your into that sort of thing.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 9/4/2011

    " Found this in the bargain bin tonight at Books-A-Million. Score! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heather | 7/25/2011

    " This was WAY over my head. Had I read this back in grad school when I was studying Russian grammar in depth, I might have had a better chance of absorbing this. I got about 100 pages in and had no idea of what I'd read... Uncle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Teresa | 2/26/2011

    " His writing style makes a fascinating topic seem dull. Didn't feel like slugging through this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaworu | 1/20/2011

    " A bit tough, but still interesting look at the relation between language and the mind as well as language's role in society. Covers a wide field of topics, with some success in pragmatics, and becomes a bit tough over analysis of verb types. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marissa | 1/5/2011

    " I adored this book. Seriously, so well written and just so much fun. It was one of the first psychology books and books about how we think that truly made me start to love cognitive psychology. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 11/21/2010

    " I really dig linguistics books, and this one lives up to everything I've come to love about good pop linguistics writers: they're very witty, clever, and informative. This book talks a lot about language as a window into the way the mind works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen | 11/4/2010

    " A "look" behind the curtain at how language/thought are intertwined. "

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About the Author
Author Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching, books, and scientific research, he is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He also writes frequently for the New York Times, Time, the New Republic, and other magazines.

About the Narrator
Dean Olsher is the author of From Square One.