Steven Pinker and Rebecca Goldstein: Proud Atheists

Steve Paulson interviews the couple at Salon:

Story“I’ve always been obsessed with the mind-body problem,” says philosopher Renee Feuer Himmel. “It’s the essential problem of metaphysics, about both the world out there and the world in here.”

Renee is the fictional alter ego of novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. In her 1983 novel, “The Mind-Body Problem,” Goldstein laid out her own metaphysical concerns, which include the mystery of consciousness and the struggle between reason and emotion. As a novelist, she’s drawn to the quirky lives of scientists and philosophers. She’s also fascinated by history’s great rationalist thinkers. She’s written nonfiction accounts of the 17th-century Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza and the 20th-century mathematician-philosopher Kurt Gödel.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Goldstein would end up living with Steven Pinker, a leading theorist of the mind. He’s a cognitive psychologist at Harvard; she’s a philosopher who’s taught at several colleges. Although they come out of different disciplines, they mine much of the same territory: language, consciousness, and the tension between science and religion. If Boston is ground zero for intellectuals, then Pinker and Goldstein must rank as one of America’s brainiest power couples.

More here.