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Blank Slate : The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Blank Slate : The Modern Denial of Human Nature - 02 edition

ISBN13: 978-0670031511

Cover of Blank Slate : The Modern Denial of Human Nature 02 (ISBN 978-0670031511)
ISBN13: 978-0670031511
ISBN10: 0670031518
Cover type: Hardback
Edition/Copyright: 02
Publisher: Viking
Published: 2002
International: No

List price: $27.95

Blank Slate : The Modern Denial of Human Nature - 02 edition

ISBN13: 978-0670031511

Steven Pinker

ISBN13: 978-0670031511
ISBN10: 0670031518
Cover type: Hardback
Edition/Copyright: 02
Publisher: Viking

Published: 2002
International: No
Summary

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.

Author Bio

Pinker, Steven :

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.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine

Chapter 1: The Official Theory
Chapter 2: Silly Putty
Chapter 3: The Last Wall to Fall
Chapter 4: Culture Vultures
Chapter 5: The Slate's Last Stand

Part II: Fear and Loathing

Chapter 6: Political Scientists
Chapter 7: The Holy Trinity

Part III: Human Nature with a Human Face

Chapter 8: The Fear of Inequality
Chapter 9: The Fear on Imperfectibility
Chapter 10: The Fear of Determinism
Chapter 11: The Fear of Nihilism

Part IV: Know Thyself

Chapter 12: In Touch with Reality
Chapter 13: Out of Our Depths
Chapter 14: The Many Roots of Our Suffering
Chapter 15: The Sanctimonious Animal

Part V: Hot Buttons

Chapter 16: Politics
Chapter 17: Violence
Chapter 18: Gender
Chapter 19: Children
Chapter 20: The Arts

Part VI: The Voice of the Species

Appendix: Donald E. Brown's List of Human Universals
Notes
References
Index