Reddit Reddit reviews The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

We found 7 Reddit comments about The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
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7 Reddit comments about The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature:

u/meowmixalots · 5135 pointsr/cringepics

OK, first I would like to say that I have not downvoted you at all. I have read most of what you wrote and would like to try to explain why I believe you are wrong, in the spirit of friendly discussion. I get that you are not defending him, and just trying to argue semantics. So here is my linguistic argument.

First, the quote: he says he is sorry "if she feels hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview."

The problem with accepting this as an apology is that you are taking it too literally. You are saying, I believe, that he is sorry "in the case that she is hurt or shocked." Then, since she obviously is, that means he IS sorry. And he has apologized. I hope I have captured your reading of his statement here.

The problem is that there are multiple ways to interpret what he's said, and you are choosing a very literal one without reading between the lines.

First, why would he even bring up "if she is hurt or shocked"? When you've done something very wrong, OF COURSE the person is hurt or shocked. He's mentioned that very deliberately. What he is trying to do is take the focus OFF of his his actions, and onto her reaction. It also brings doubt into whether she is, and should be, hurt or shocked ("if she is" -- he's not sure).

Another thing that is happening is that there is almost an implied "but" after his statement. I'm sorry if you were hurt, but.... And then you are meant to consider his explanation (his actions were awkward).

He chose to say that his actions were awkward to do two things. First, the problem was his "actions," not him -- putting linguistic space between himself and the problem. Second, he used the word "awkward," which has connotations of harmlessness. I mean, we've all been awkward before!! How can you blame someone whose actions were a little awkward? When in reality, no, what he did was very offensive and aggressive.

So to recap, he is sorry IF your reaction is that you were hurt (was it? he's not sure), but his actions were awkward. Do you see how different this is from saying, I've done something very wrong, and I would like to apologize for it? He's shifted the focus to her reaction, blamed awkwardness which downplays the seriousness, and brought doubt into whether she is even offended.

So what I am saying is, it is important to read between the lines and not just take a certain literal meaning to what people say. You can do A LOT more with language than just get literal statements across. Little things like the order of your words, and word choices of course, all come with slight connotations and flavors that affect what you are saying. In his case, he puts emphasis on her reaction, questions it, and downplays his role.

EDIT: Wow thank you for the gold! That is very kind. I wanted to suggest this book by Steven Pinker if you are interested in the topic of language. I'm sure there are many other good books about language I don't know of though.... I'd be happy to hear suggestions from others too!

u/-Lemma- · 31 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

The list of categories isn’t limited to those two. Others include disease/disability as in “a pox on you” or “four eyed”, animals such as “bitch” or even species such as “Neanderthal”, ethnic slurs such as “nigger”, etc. Steven Pinker goes into some detail linguistics and neuroscience in his book The Stuff of Thought. He discusses swearing in chapter 7.

Here a couple of nice clips from a talk he did on the book (~10 minutes each) that address swearing: Part 1 and Part 2. Since they are short, easy to understand, Pinker is a greater speaker and available on youtube so I won’t summarize them any further.

u/byrd_nick · 26 pointsr/NeutralPolitics

Your reading of the testimony (and opening statement) seems to disregard indirect speech.

  1. Comey said that he took Trump's request about "I hope you can see to ...letting Flynn go" was an attempt to "change the investigation". That's how indirect speech works. You make commands and threats indirectly. (E.g., "I hope you will be not be late to work again tomorrow.")

  2. "I need loyalty. l expect loyalty." Is a classic loyalty pledge. And it's pretty direct. I don't see how that's open to dispute. If it's indirect, it's barely indirect.

    For more on this kind of indirect speech, see chapter 8 of Stephen Pinker's The Stuff Of Thought.
u/christgoldman · 3 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

> The idea that the mind is in some way non-physical.

The mind is a product and an element of the physical brain. It may not be concretely tangible (i.e., you can't hold a mind), but that does not mean it is not a part of the physical universe. Physics explains the mind quite well, actually. The neurons in our brain are developed in compliance to the laws of physics and biology, the neurochemicals in our brain are physical substances, and the electric currents in our brains that communicate signals between neurons operate in compliance to the laws of physics.

Evolution also provides insight into the development of consciousness. While, sure, humans are the only terrestrial species with advanced enough consciousness to develop religious and philosophical ideas, we know now that many animals have forms of consciousness and proto-consciousness like what we would expect if humans evolved consciousness from simple origins. The mind is perfectly explainable through naturalistic sciences, and our naturalistic model of human consciousness makes predictions that are falsifiable.

I'd suggest reading Steven Pinker's How The Mind Works. Here's a talk he gave on the book. I'd also suggest his The Stuff of Thought, The Language Instinct, and The Blank Slate.

I'd also suggest Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape. While it's main thrust is to show how science can inform morality, it offers some pretty decent layperson explanation of consciousness, and it is written by an accomplished neuroscientist (whatever your opinion on his religious works may be). His pamphlet-esque Free Will also covers some good ground here.

> All able-bodied humans are born with the ability to learn language.

Not at all true. You can be able-bodied and learning disabled. There was a nonverbal autistic student at my middle school years ago who ran track. Trivial point, but still incorrect.

> I would argue humans also have a Spiritual Acquisition Device.

I would argue that this argument is SAD. (pun; sorry.)

You're positing a massively complex hypothetical neurological infrastructure to link human brains to a divine alternate universe or dimension that has never been shown to exist. Not only has this neural uplink never been observed, but it is entirely unnecessary, as neuroscientists and psychologists have a perfectly functional, testable model of consciousness without it. You're adding a new element to that model that is functionally redundant and untestable. Occam's Razor would trim away your entire posited element out of extraneousness and convolution.

u/AfroElitist · 3 pointsr/linguistics

I would read some more "casual" or pop linguistics books to really cement your interest in linguistics before any of the more heady pieces of literature scare you off. As a side note, I'd learn the English IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart before you pursue further literature. Not knowing would be like performing math calculations without knowing what any of the operator signs were. As a high schooler, this is your time to read. God knows you won't have as much time to do it in college. Only after you get a general feel for what linguists actually do and study, would I recommend making a choice, it's certainly not for everyone :)

Great story demonstrating just how different certain languages can be.

If you want a great pop introduction that'll really help you tap your toe on the vast ocean surface known as linguistics, I'd give this a try too

If you like what you read, and think it would be admirable to contribute to the swiftly growing pool of knowledge we currently have in this wonderful field, then pursue more academically oriented sources, and as others said, maybe narrow your interests further by contacting a certain professor or researcher. Hope this helped :)

u/josiahstevenson · 3 pointsr/Jokes

Interesting, I don't think I've ever seen "cussing" written in any but extremely informal contexts in the wild, and the chapter on vulgar words in Stephen pinker's Stuff of Thought definitely uses "swearing" throughout to describe the entire broad set of things you call "cussing" here, which is consistent with the usage I'm most used to otherwise

u/WatchOutRadioactiveM · 0 pointsr/iamverysmart

I'm currently reading The Stuff of Thought, which has been very interesting so far, explaining how we learn language and the impact words have on thought in general. I would also recommend The Blank Slate, which argues against the idea of tabula rasa (that people are born as blank slates.) The latter is fairly controversial, in terms of the science and findings, but I think it's a very good read. I also found it fairly difficult, mostly because I wasn't familiar with many philosophers, but he also uses challenging language (a lot of big words, basically.)