Steven Pinker

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Department of Psychology
Harvard University

Teaching

PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE  |  Science of Living Systems 20
Undergraduate General Education course
No prerequisites
Spring semester
Lectures: Tuesday & Thursday 2:30-4, Science Center C
Discussion section: various times
Web site
Click here to download the course syllabus.
An introduction to the workings of the human psyche as illuminated by experimental psychology, neuroscience, genetics, evolution, artificial intelligence, and the social sciences. The course will introduce major approaches to the study of the mind such as psychoanalysis, behaviorism, cognitive neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology; controversies such as nature-nurture, consciousness, and free will; and specific topics such as perception, reasoning, language, emotion, psychopathology, sexuality, violence, morality, and the self.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE: TALKING POINTS  |  Psychology 3500
Graduate course
Enrollment is limited to teaching fellows for "The Human Mind" and graduate students who have obtained the permission of the instructor
Spring semester
Thursday 3:30-5:30
A graduate companion course to "The Human Mind," which explores the theories and controversies in greater depth. Topics include nature and nurture, reductionism, determinism, religion and science, consciousness, violence, politics, sex differences, and rationality.

COGNITION, BRAIN, AND BEHAVIOR: PROSEMINAR | Psychology 2020ab
Graduate course
Spring Semester
Advanced survey of research topics in cognition, brain, and behavior.
To be given in 2011–12. Limited to first-year doctoral students in Psychology.

LANGUAGE AND HUMAN NATURE  |  Psychology 2280
Not offered 2010-2011
Primarily for graduate students and advanced undergraduates
Enrollment limited to about a dozen students
Spring semester
Lectures: Tuesday 6-8PM, William James Hall 950
Web site
Click here to download the course syllabus.
Language as a window onto human conceptions of space, time, causation, number, agency, sex, and status. The focus is on words and grammatical constructions, but also diverse phenomena like swearing, baby naming, and legal language.

MORALITY & TABOO - ADVANCED TOPICS  |  Psychology 2002
NOT OFFERED IN 2010-2011
Primarily for Graduates
No prerequisites
Enrollment limited to about a dozen students.
Spring semester
Lectures: Tuesday 10:00-11:30
Discussion section: various times
Web site
Click here to download the course syllabus.
Advanced seminar on the science of taboo for graduate students enrolled in PSY 1002. Cognitive, neural, social, and linguistic research on the desire not to think about specific topics, and its relevance to psychology. Note: Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor.

MORALITY & TABOO  |  Psychology 1002
NOT OFFERED IN 2010-2011
Undergraduate core course
No prerequisites
Enrollment may be limited [This will be determined by the number of TFs available]
Spring semester
Lectures: Monday 4:45-6:45, Science Center A
Discussion section: various times
Web site
Click here to download the course syllabus.
Psychological and legal aspects of morality, the moral sense, taboo, dangerous ideas, and related topics. Does morality come from social conventions, innate intuitions, divine decree, platonic reality, or some combination? Can it ever be immoral to evaluate controversial ideas, such as ones about torture, innate group differences, the environment, infanticide, or the legalization of distasteful but victimless practices? When is it rational, or moral, to choose to be ignorant?

HUMAN NATURE  |  Psychology 1001, Law School 38220-31/38220-32
NOT OFFERED IN 2010-2011

Steven Pinker and Roberto Mangabeira Unger
Undergraduate and graduate course
No prerequisites
No enrollment limit
Spring semester
Lectures: Tuesday 6-8 PM, Langdell South (Law School)
Discussion section: Optional discussion sections will be organized by the students with the help of the course administrator.
Web site
Click here to download the course syllabus.
Theories of human nature and their implications. Is there a human nature? If so, what is it? What competing images of humanity are found in religion, art forms, social and political theories, and psychology, biology, and neuroscience? Can we change what we are? Is law a lever of behavior modification with a theory of human nature as its fulcrum? How might new approaches to human nature affect the organization of the university?

COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL GENETICS |  MIT 2001
MIT Open Courseware Web Site

INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY  |  MIT 1996-2001
MIT Open Courseware Web Site

EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY |  MIT 1994-2000
MIT Open Courseware Web Site