Let’s Talk About Love, Baby (with Pinker’s Wife)

As Valentine's Day approaches, you might be thinking about how you can get that cute girl from your psych class to go on a date with you. If you're looking for a solution, just ask Professor Steven Pinker.

Pinker is happily married to philosopher and author Rebecca N. Goldstein. And in a video interview with Big Think, a Web site dedicated to spotlighting experts’ thoughts on an array of topics, Goldstein answers questions such as, “What is love?” and “What is it like when two prominent intellectuals attempt a marriage together?”

In the clip, Goldstein explains that “we all want…our lives to go well and to flourish and when you love somebody you feel that as keenly for them as for yourself and often more keenly, and that’s what...I think the feeling of love is.”

Goldstein smiles as she relates the story of how she and Pinker met. As one might expect of a Harvard professor and his wife, the two read each other's works long before meeting in person. Pinker even quoted Goldstein in his book “Words and Rules” before the two were introduced.  When she stumbled upon the quote, Goldstein says, “I thought, oh my Lord, Steven Pinker knows who I am.”

The couple formally met when a magazine wanted to arrange a conversation between a scientist and a writer. The magazine asked Pinker which author he wanted to speak with, and he chose Goldstein. The rest, as they say, is history.

When asked if thinking about love ever gets in the way of being in love itself, Goldstein says that one of the things she loves most about her husband is that in his life, love and thinking are wedded together.

Though Pinker mentions Goldstein as his wife only in the “long bio” section of his Web site, he proudly advertises Goldstein's new book, “36 Arguments for the Existence of God,” on his welcome page.

So, to those of you still fretting over your sorry love lives, take heart (and start writing some New York Times best-sellers). This marriage of the minds should show you that love and intellect do mix, and that all you need to find that someone special is some crazy hair and your own Wikipedia page. Easy, right?

Social Sciences Division

Harvard Today

The latest in your inbox.

Sign Up

Follow Flyby online.