While we’ve been waiting for The Writing Machine, aka Dr. Steven Pinker, to issue his forthcoming book on how to write science for public consumption, he’s come out with an anthology, Language, Cognition, and Human Nature. It’s out on Kindle now and you can get the dead-tree version on October 25.
The Amazon description is below:
This eclectic collection spans Pinker’s thirty-year career, exploring his favorite themes in greater depth and scientific detail. It includes thirteen of Pinker’s classic articles, ranging over topics such as language development in children, mental imagery, the recognition of shapes, the computational architecture of the mind, the meaning and uses of verbs, the evolution of language and cognition, the nature-nurture debate, and the logic of innuendo and euphemism. Each outlines a major theory or takes up an argument with another prominent scholar, such as Stephen Jay Gould, Noam Chomsky, or Richard Dawkins. Featuring a new introduction by Pinker that discusses his books and scholarly work, this collection reflects essential contributions to cognitive science by one of our leading thinkers and public intellectuals.
And I asked Steve to let my readers know what parts they might find most interesting. His response (published with permission):
What your readers would be most interested in are articles where I argue with some of the people you’ve taken on in WEIT–Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini (20 years before he wrote the book with Fodor that they could have called Why Evolution is False), Fodor himself (who wrote a book called The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way, “that way” being the way that I said the mind does work in How the Mind Works), and Chomsky, Hauser, & Fitch. The collection also includes my contribution to the festschrift for Richard Dawkins in which I explore deep commonalities between life and mind (the Times ran an excerpt and called it, “Yes, Genes Really Can Be Selfish”), and my PNAS article on “The Cognitive Niche” which you incisively critiqued when it came out. There’s also a piece called “Why Nature and Nurture Won’t Go Away.”