The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature Read Online Free - 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 by embracing three linked 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 injects calm and rationality into these debates by showing that equality, progress, responsibility, and purpose have nothing to fear from discoveries about a rich human nature. He disarms even the most menacing threats with clear thinking, common sense, and pertinent facts from science and history. Despite its popularity among intellectuals during much of the twentieth century, he argues, the doctrine of the Blank Slate may have done more harm than good. It denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces hardheaded analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of government, violence, parenting, and the arts.

Pinker shows that an acknowledgement of human nature that is grounded in science and common sense, far from being dangerous, can complement insights 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: wit, lucidity, and insight into matters great and small.

Title : The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0142003344
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 528 pages


Jenn rated it ★★★★★

June 05, 2008

I'm an atheist. I've always been and always will be (god willing). When I was a kid, I used to envy the religious folks who seemed to be having such deep meaningful fun all the time. It's not that I hate religion, or the idea of god, it's just that I can't really get my mind around it after a chi...

Nebuchadnezzar rated it ★★☆☆☆

March 16, 2012

I contend that there are two Steven Pinkers. Pinker 1 is an eloquent, witty, and insightful writer on the issues of cognitive psychology and linguistics who has the rare talent of making his subjects accessible and appealing to academic and lay audiences. Pinker 2 retains the writing ability, but...

Manny rated it ★★★★☆

September 09, 2009

Steven Pinker takes on the old nature/nurture question, and does an excellent job of it. Are we the products of our genes or our upbringing? Pinker tells you in the first few pages what the new consensus is: both, but genes are probably more important. He has some wonderful stories to back up the...

Ian19 rated it ★★★★★

July 05, 2013

This book grew on me as I read it. At first, I suspected Pinker of cherry-picking targets from the extreme fringe of cultural constructivism. However, after I spent some time in a Sociology of Gender class at college, I discovered that the total denial of innate psychological programming is indee...

Lena rated it ★★★★☆

November 20, 2008

The Blank Slate is Steven Pinker's ambitious attempt to close the gap between the conventionally accepted dogma that human beings come into this world free of innate characteristics, ready to be molded and shaped by society, and what science has begun to reveal about genetic predisposition. Prior...

Tristan rated it ★★★★☆

July 25, 2017

"I'm only human Of flesh and blood I'm made Human Born to make mistakes" --The Human League, Human Most of us instinctively feel the acquisition of scientific knowledge follows a linear path, first operating from a solid factual base, and then modifying itself as it goes along in an objective fashion....

Daniel rated it ★★☆☆☆

August 03, 2008

Louis Menand has written a typically excellent piece on Pinker's arrogance: I found this book simultaneously interesting and exasperating, because the author is obviously a highly educated, well-read man who thinks he knows everything about every subject. T...

Daniel rated it ★★★★★

January 19, 2018

In some ways, this book is both a tragedy and an inspiration. How is it a tragedy? It's a tragedy because the book is responding to very ideologically-based, simple arguments for the Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine that I think don't really need to be addressed. Many o...

David rated it ★★★★★

July 17, 2010

What an impressive book! I have been reading a number of Steven Pinker's books, and they are all excellent. I was particularly interested in how politics and social activists have worked to slow down the progress of science. The concept of a "blank slate", though socially attractive, has held bac...

L.E. rated it ★★☆☆☆

April 18, 2013

So here's a case where you have a book about how much of our personalities and, well, nature is innate, rather than nurtured into us by our parents or our environment. If The Blank Slate were two hundred pages and focused just on brain science, it'd be one thing. The trouble is that it ends up re...

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