Friday, April 11, 2008

'The Stuff of Thought' - Steven Pinker

Just finished Steven Pinker's mammoth "The Stuff of Thought" which was a Christmas present. At 512 pages, I don't have the energy to review it properly - there are plenty of good reviews on the Amazon site - follow the link.

Let me just say that you probably have to have an interest in linguistics to read it - as general science or even evolutionary psychology, it lacks that page-turning magic. I liked the many occasions when he observes that authority figures use self-deprecatory language to increase a sense of communalism with their audience - and then the many other occasions when self-deprecatory stories about Steven Pinker are aired. He knows that you know that he knows why he is doing this.

He calls his position "conceptual semantics" and it seems hard for reasonable people to disagree with him. I guess my bottom line view would be that the book as a whole seems eclectic. In the end, there is going to be a coherent story founded on sociobiology and rooted in evolution: we're not there yet.

I'm still in the UK writing up the work I was doing with the client in Dubai. This seems likely to take up most of April. Having contracted a rather nasty respiratory bug out in Dubai, I can report that I'm still a bit deaf and my voice is not back to normal. However, it's a lot better than it was ... I was capable of work again from Tuesday of this week.