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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $42.50

304 pp.
23 b/w illustrations, 6.125" x 9.25"


Publication date:
October 2013

Imprint: OUP US

Language, Cognition, and Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Language, Cognition, and Human Nature collects together for the first time Steven Pinker's most influential scholarly work on language and cognition. Pinker is a highly eminent cognitive scientist, and his research emphasizes the importance of language and its connections to cognition, social relationships, child development, human evolution, and theories of human nature.

The thirteen essays in this eclectic collection span Pinker's thirty-year career, ranging over topics such as language acquisitions, visual cognition, the meaning and syntax of verbs, regular and irregular phenomena in language and their implications for the mechanisms of cognition, and the social psychology of direct and indirect speech. Each outlines a major theory - such as evolution, or nature vs. nurture - or takes up an argument with other prominent scholars such as Stephen Jay Gould, Noam Chomsky, or Richard Dawkins. Featuring a new introduction by Pinker that discusses his books and scholarly work, this book represents a major contribution to the field of cognitive science, by one of the field's leading thinkers.

Readership : A wide range of readers in the cognitive sciences and of his popular work.

1. Formal models of language learning
2. A computational theory of the mental imagery medium
3. Rules and connections in human language
4. When does human object recognition use a viewer-centered reference frame?
5. Natural language and natural selection
6. The acquisition of argument structure
7. The nature of human concepts: evidence from an unusual source
8. Why nature and nurture won't go away
9. The faculty of language: What's special about it?
10. So how does the mind work?
11. Deep commonalities between life and mind
12. Rationales for indirect speech: The theory of the strategic speaker
13. The cognitive niche: Coevolution of intelligence, sociality, and language
Author Biography

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Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, an eminent cognitive scientist, and the author of many popular books that synthesize large bodies of knowledge of cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and behavioral genetics into a comprehensive picture of how the mind works, how it evolved, and how we ought to bring these ideas to bear on theories of politics and morality. His scholarly work has won many prizes, including the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the George Miller Prize from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the Early Career Award and McCandless Prize from the American Psychological Association. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and also writes frequently in the popular press, including The New York Times, Prospect, Slate, and The New Republic.

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Special Features

  • The only book-length collection of Steven Pinker's scholarly work.
  • Essays focus on language and its connections to cognition, social relationships, child development, human evolution, and theories of human nature.