#67: Rebecca Saxe on the Beauty of the Mind
Cognitive Revolution | How Rebecca maintains the same joy now as a leader of her field as she did as an undergraduate
This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
I have been a big fan of Rebecca and her work for a long time. She is the John W. Jarve (1978) Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She is a co-author on a handful of my all-time favorite papers in my own area of research interest, called "theory of mind" — the process by which we come to understand the minds of others. There's so much that I enjoyed about this conversation, but the overall theme that stands out to me has to do with the pure joy Rebecca takes (and, by extension, spreads) in her appreciation of the mind. She loves digging deep in the recesses of her own thoughts and feelings, as well as trying to inhabit the thoughts and feelings of others. Whether in formal theory of mind research or in a good novel, she seems constantly to be sensitive to the beauty of the mind in all its facets. It is one of the features of her scholarly career which has made her work so influential among her colleagues and her mentorship so impactful among her students.
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