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MIT Communications Forum

Pinker's Farewell
Steven Pinker

September 25, 2003

Bartos Theater

Pinker's Farewell

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Steven Pinker
Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology
Harvard University

In this personal and reflective event, Pinker looks back at twenty plus years at MIT and shares his deep appreciation for the place where "ideas and content always come first."

Recalling his earliest work at the MIT Center for Cognitive Science, he describes the maddening problem of how children learn to use verbs correctly. You can splash the wall with paint and can splash paint on the wall; you can spill water on the floor but you can't spill the floor with water. Pinker theorized that children unconsciously divide the world of actions into categories like geometry and force, and that humans have evolved a grammar based on this intuitive physics. Pinker discusses Noam Chomsky's "enormous" impact on him, as well as his profound differences with Chomsky concerning the evolution of humans' innate ability to acquire language. In spite of jibes from outsiders (often journalists), Pinker says he reveled in teaching MIT's introductory psychology course. Finally, he describes many sleepless nights while pondering the "most agonizing choice of my career"is decision to leave MIT for Harvard.

This discussion is moderated by Professor Samuel Jay Keyser--Peter de Florez Emeritus Professor at MIT and an emeritus member of the Linguistics and Philosophy faculty. He is currently special assistant to the Chancellor at MIT.

Keyser's most recent book is The Pond God published by Front Street Books.

Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He returned to Harvard in September 2003 after 21 years at MIT, where he was most recently the Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. A native of Montreal, he received his B.A. from McGill University in 1976 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard in 1979. His scholarship has brought him awards and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Many more awards and worldwide recognition have come from several popular science books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and most recently, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

Pinker at Harvard
Department of Psychology Faculty Bio
Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists

关于影片(影片时间索引):影片长度为 2:13:00
The event is introduced by David Thorburn
Professor of Literature and Director, MIT Communications Forum

Moderated by Samuel Jay Keyser
Keyser prefaces the forum with some personal remarks at 5:41, and then discusses the following topics with Pinker:

Recollections of Pinker's early years at the Center for Cognitive Science

The Lexicon Project

Verb lists

The influence of Donald O. Hebb, David Marr, and Marvin Minksy

Noam Chomsky, Linguist

Pinker's MIT teaching experience and MIT's reaction to his role as popularizer

Dedicated Q&A time with the audience

 The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
The Blank Slate

以上资料为本影片上传至 MITWORLD 网站上当时所获知的资讯。此影片上传日为: 2003-11-15.


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