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Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

A Canadian, Steven Arthur Pinker was born on September 18, 1954 in Montreal, Canada to a middle class Jewish family. His father was a lawyer who initially worked as a manafacturer’s representative and his mother was a homemaker, a guidance counsellor and then a high school vice principal. Pinker has two younger siblings too. His sister Susan Pinker is a psychologist by profession and author of the book The Sexual Paradox whereas his brother designs policies and analyzes them for the Canadian government. Known to be a popular psychologist, linguist, scientist and author, Pinker is a professor of Harvard University having completed his BA degree in Psychology at McGill University and then earned his PhD degree in experimental Psychology from Harvard University. He is the one who advocated the computational theory of mind and evolutionary psychology. Steven has six books to his credit; Work and rules, the blank slate, the stuff of thought, the better Angels of our nature, how the mind works and the language instinct. His latter book has been criticized by Jeffrey Elman’s in his book, Rethinking innateness where he defended the connectionist approach. The other books are a combination of cognitive science, evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics. Steven Pinker has many researches related to language and cognition. Famous for his work on the theory of language acquisition, he says that the human mind is not complex and comprises of various adaptive mental facilities. Another important element of his theory is the human cognition that works not only among sensory features but also combinatorial symbol manipulation. In the language instinct written by Noam Chomsky, he modified his work by saying that evolution was due to natural selection.  Pinker has had many influences in his life namely Thomas Sowell, Noam Chomsky, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Richard Dawkins and Thomas Schelling.  Pinker has written various other books such as Language Learnability and Language Development, Connections and Symbols, Visual Cognition, Lexical and Conceptual Semantics and Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language.

Pinker has also received many awards for his contribution such as Troland Award, Henry Dale Prize, Walter P Kistler Book Award, Humanist of the Year award and George Miller Prize. He got married in 1980 to Nancy Etcoff and they divorced in 1992. He married again in 1995 to Ilavenil Subbiah and they divorced too. He got married again to Rebecca Goldstein who is a philosopher and novelist and has two stepdaughters.

In 2004, Steven Pinker was listed in the Time Magazine of the 100 most influential scientists in the world. He has won the Early Career Award for his research in Cognitive Psychology and the Troland Research Award from the National academy of Sciences.

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