Campus News

Scholar, Author to Speak at Bowdoin on How the Mind Works

Story posted April 15, 1999


April 23, 1999, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Steven Pinker, whose books have delighted both scientists and general readers, will give this year's Santagata Lecture in the Social Sciences at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 26, in Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center at Bowdoin College. The lecture, "How the Mind Works," is free and open to the public.

Why do people fall in love? Why is the thought of eating worms disgusting? What makes us laugh? Pinker, who is the Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tackles questions as diverse as these in his writing and lectures. The answers, he says, lie in natural selection.

In his best-selling book "How the Mind Works" Pinker asserts that humans are born equipped with a "tool box" in the brain that is filled with intuitive theories about the world. These theories help forge our behavior and emotions.

"No other science writer makes me laugh so much," wrote Mark Ridley in his New York Times Book Review article on "How the Mind Works." He calls Pinker's work "witty popular science that you enjoy reading for the writing as well as for the science."

Pinker, who was born to English-speaking, Jewish parents in Quebec, Canada, earned his undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal. He then took just three years to earn a doctorate at Harvard. He was named among Newsweek's "100 Americans for the Next Century" and is included in "Esquire's" "Register of Outstanding Men and Women." He is also author of the best seller "The Language Instinct."

The Kenneth V. Santagata Memorial Fund was established in 1982 by friends of Bowdoin graduate Santagata. The fund provides at least one lecture each year, rotating, in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The lecturers come to Bowdoin to present "new, novel or nonconventional approaches" to their topics.

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