The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

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Viking, 2002 - Psychology - 509 pages
315 Reviews
Our conceptions of human nature affect everything aspect of our lives, from child-rearing to politics to morality to the arts. Yet many fear that scientific discoveries about innate patterns of thinking and feeling may be used to justify inequality, to subvert social change, and to dissolve personal responsibility.

In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. He shows how many intellectuals have denied the existence of human nature and instead have embraced three dogmas: The Blank Slate (the mind has no innate traits), The Noble Savage (people are born good and corrupted by society), and The Ghost in the Machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology). Each dogma carries a moral burden, so their defenders have engaged in desperate tactics to discredit the scientists who are now challenging them.

Pinker provides calm in the stormy debate by disentangling the political and moral issues from the scientific ones. He shows that equality, compassion, responsibility, and purpose have nothing to fear from discoveries about an innately organized psyche. Pinker shows that the new sciences of mind, brain, genes, and evolution, far from being dangerous, are complementing observations about the human condition made by millennia of artists and philosophers. All this is done in the style that earned his previous books many prizes and worldwide acclaim: irreverent wit, lucid exposition, and startling insight on matters great and small.

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Fantastic. Great subject and writing. - Goodreads
Impressively thorough and well-researched. - Goodreads
I love Steven Pinker's writing style. - Goodreads
Pinker is a great writer and very engaging. - Goodreads
I fell in love with the style of writing too. - Goodreads
Plus, he's an excellent writer. - Goodreads

Review: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

User Review  - James McKenzie - Goodreads

Here's a tough one, easy to read and often interesting, at least as far as the hard science stuff goes, but whenever he starts talking about art, feminism, critical theory, &c, it's hard to see his ... Read full review

Review: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

User Review  - Paul Downs - Goodreads

I'm lying. I'm only maybe a quarter of the way through, and don't feel the need to read every word. My own experience with my twin sons leads me to agree with Pinker's thesis, that the brain is born ... Read full review

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The Blank Slate the Noble Savage
Fear and Loathing
Human Nature with a Human Face

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About the author (2002)

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching and scientific research, Pinker is Peter de Florez professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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