Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain

In this lecture, Steven Pinker, renowned linguist and Harvard Psychology Professor, discusses linguistics as a window to understanding the human brain.

How is it that human beings have come to acquire language? Steven Pinker's introduction to the field includes thoughts on the evolution of spoken language and the debate over the existence of an innate universal grammar, as well as an exploration of why language is such a fundamental part of social relationships, human biology, and human evolution. Finally, Pinker touches on the wide variety of applications for linguistics, from improving how we teach reading and writing to how we interpret law, politics, and literature.

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.