Books

Enlightenment Now

Steven Pinker

'My new favourite book of all time' Bill Gates
TOP TEN SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Is modernity really failing? Or have we failed to appreciate progress and the ideals that make it possible?

If you follow the headlines, the world in the 21st century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred, and irrationality. Yet Steven Pinker shows that this is an illusion - a symptom of historical amnesia and statistical fallacies. If you follow the trendlines rather than the headlines, you discover that our lives have become longer, healthier, safer, happier, more peaceful, more stimulating and more prosperous - not just in the West, but worldwide. Such progress is no accident: it's the gift of a coherent and inspiring value system that many of us embrace without even realizing it. These are the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress.

The challenges we face today are formidable, including inequality, climate change, Artificial Intelligence and nuclear weapons. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it's to treat them as problems we can solve, as we have solved other problems in the past. In making the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century, Pinker shows how we can use our faculties of reason and sympathy to solve the problems that inevitably come with being products of evolution in an indifferent universe. We will never have a perfect world, but - defying the chorus of fatalism and reaction - we can continue to make it a better one.

The Sense of Style

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, the bestselling author of The Language Instinct, deploys his gift for explaining big ideas in The Sense of Style - an entertaining writing guide for the 21st century

What is the secret of good prose? Does writing well even matter in an age of instant communication? Should we care? In this funny, thoughtful book about the modern art of writing, Steven Pinker shows us why we all need a sense of style.

More than ever before, the currency of our social and cultural lives is the written word, from Twitter and texting to blogs, e-readers and old-fashioned books. But most style guides fail to prepare people for the challenges of writing in the 21st century, portraying it as a minefield of grievous errors rather than a form of pleasurable mastery. They fail to deal with an inescapable fact about language: it changes over time, adapted by millions of writers and speakers to their needs. Confusing changes in the world with moral decline, every generation believes the kids today are degrading society and taking language with it. A guide for the new millennium, writes Steven Pinker, has to be different.

Drawing on the latest research in linguistics and cognitive science, Steven Pinker replaces the recycled dogma of previous style guides with reason and evidence. This thinking person's guide to good writing shows why style still matters: in communicating effectively, in enhancing the spread of ideas, in earning a reader's trust and, not least, in adding beauty to the world. Eye-opening, mind-expanding and cheerful, The Sense of Style shows that good style is part of what it means to be human.

How the Mind Works

Steven Pinker

Why do we laugh?
What makes memories fade?
Why do people believe in ghosts?

How the Mind Works explores every aspect of mental life, showing that our minds are not a mystery, but a system of organs of computation designed by natural selection.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Steven Pinker

'The most inspiring book I've ever read' Bill Gates, 2017

'A brilliant, mind-altering book ... Everyone should read this astonishing book' Guardian

'Will change the way you see the world' Daily Mail

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012

Wasn't the twentieth century the most violent in history? In his extraordinary, epic book Steven Pinker shows us that this is wrong, telling the story of humanity in a completely new and unfamiliar way. From why cities make us safer to how books bring about peace, Pinker weaves together history, philosophy and science to examine why we are less likely to die at another's hand than ever before, how it happened and what it tells us about our very natures.

'May prove to be one of the great books of our time ... he writes like an angel' Economist

'Masterly, a supremely important book ... For anyone interested in human nature, it is engrossing' The New York Times

'Marvellous ... riveting and myth-destroying' New Statesman

'A marvellous synthesis of science, history and storytelling, written in Pinker's distinctively entertaining and clear personal style ... I was astonished by the extent to which violence has declined in every shape, form and scale' Financial Times

'An outstandingly fruitful read, with fascinating nuggets on almost every page' Sunday Times, Books of the Year

The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television

Steven Pinker

Why do so many swear words involve sex, bodily functions and religion? Why are some words rude and others aren't? Why can launching into expletives be so shocking - and sometimes so amusing?

Steven Pinker takes us on a fascinating and funny journey through the world of profanities, taken from his bestselling The Stuff of Thought, to show us why we swear (whatever our language or culture), how taboos change and how we use obscenities in different ways. You'll discover that in Québecois French the expression 'Tabernacle' is outrageous, that the Middle Ages were littered with four-letter words, that 'scumbag' has a very unsavoury origin and that in a certain Aboriginal language every word is filthy when spoken in front of your mother-in-law.

Covering everything from free speech to Tourette's, from pottymouthed celebrities to poetry, this book reveals what swearing tells us about how our minds work. (It's also a bloody good read).

The Stuff of Thought

Steven Pinker

In The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, Steven Pinker looks at how the relationship between words and thoughts can help us understand who we are.

Why do so many swear words involve topics like sex, bodily functions or the divine? Why do some children's names thrive while others fall out of favour? Why do we threaten and bribe and seduce in such elaborate, often comical ways? How can a choice of metaphor damn a politician or start a war? And why do we rarely say what we actually mean?

Language, as Steven Pinker shows, is at the heart of our lives, and through the way we use it - whether to inform, persuade, entertain or manipulate - we can glimpse the very essence of what makes us human.

'Awesome'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Daily Mail

'Highly entertaining ... funny and thought-provoking'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;The Times

'Anyone interested in language should read The Stuff of Thought ... moments of genuine revelation and some very good jokes'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Mark Haddon, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year

'No one writes about language as clearly as Steven Pinker, and this is his best book yet'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;David Crystal, Financial Times

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as The New York Times, Time and Slate, and is the author of six books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate.

The Blank Slate

Steven Pinker

From bestselling author Stephen Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature shatters the myths surrounding human behaviour and 'nature versus nurture'.

Recently many people have assumed that we are shaped by our environment: a blank slate waiting to be inscribed by upbringing and culture, with innate abilities playing little part.

The Blank Slate shows that this view denies the heart of our being: human nature. Violence is not just a product of society; male and female minds are different; the genes we give our children shape the more than our parenting practices. To acknowledge our nature, Pinker shows, is not to condone inequality, but to understand the very foundations of humanity.

'Magnificent and timely'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Sunday Telegraph

'A passionate defence of the enduring power of human nature ... both life-affirming and deeply satisfying'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Tim Lott, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year

'Brilliant ... enjoyable, informative, clear, humane'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;New Scientist

Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. Pinker has been awarded research prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, graduate and undergraduate teaching prizes from MIT, and book prizes from the American Psychological Association, the Linguistics Society of America and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Language Instinct.

The Language Instinct

Steven Pinker

'Dazzling...Pinker's big idea is that language is an instinct...as innate to us as flying is to geese...Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations'
- Independent

'A marvellously readable book...illuminates every facet of human language: its biological origin, its uniqueness to humanity, it acquisition by children, its grammatical structure, the production and perception of speech, the pathology of language disorders and the unstoppable evolution of languages and dialects' - Nature

Biography

Steven Pinker is one of the world's most influential thinkers and writers on the human condition. His popular and highly praised books include The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching, books, and scientific research, Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He also writes frequently for The New York Times, the Guardian and other publications. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine's "The World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today."