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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature By Steven Pinker The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature 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 embra

  • Title: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
  • Author: Steven Pinker
  • ISBN: 9780142003343
  • Page: 201
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature By Steven Pinker 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 eacIn 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 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 mill
    The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature By Steven Pinker

    The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature Pinker In other words, humans are born a blank slate, only nurture, not nature, will make them what they are This is the mentality of a cult, writes Pinker, in which fantastical beliefs are flaunted as proof of one s piety This mentality cannot exist with an esteem for truth and is responsible for unfortunate trends The Blank Slate The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature by 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. The Blank Slate Summary eNotes The blank slate is the idea that at birth the human brain is a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper waiting to be written on, with no innate knowledge or personality The entire section is ,

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    One thought on “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

    1. Jenn Pellerin on said:

      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 childhood devoid of spirituality Newsflash if you don t take a lot for granted, religious theory makes NO SENSE The only place I ve ever found deeper meaning is in biology and physics and neurology SOading this [...]

    2. Nebuchadnezzar on said:

      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 instead uses it for pushing his pet theories, usually political in nature cf his most recent Better Angels of Our Nature This book comes straight from the pen of Pinker 2.There are really two main compone [...]

    3. Manny on said:

      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 important.He has some wonderful stories to back up the general points Here s one that particularly appealed to me During the 60s and 70s, you often heard that boys and girls are indoctrinated from an early age so as to conform to conventional gender roles Without t [...]

    4. Ian19 on said:

      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 indeed as pervasive among the social sciences as Pinker suggests His characterization of post modernist philosophy, cultural anthropology, and some factions within psychology are very consistent with the ideas [...]

    5. Lena on said:

      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 to reading this book, I had no idea that the origin of human nature was such a contentious topic amongst modern intellectuals Seems that a lot of people think acknowledging that something like violence m [...]

    6. Tristan on said:

      I m only humanOf flesh and blood I m madeHumanBorn to make mistakes The Human League, HumanMost 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 Ultimately, a common agreeance on a certain topic will be reached, and the findings will translate into well considered policy Ideally, that is how it should work, with scientists serving as neutral observe [...]

    7. Daniel on said:

      Louis Menand has written a typically excellent piece on Pinker s arrogance newyorker archive 2002I 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 There is a whole class of these public intellectuals the late Carl Sagan, Richard Dawins, et al who play this game they use the public authority they have gained by virtue of at least modest academic accomplishment in one fi [...]

    8. Daniel Clausen on said:

      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 of the points in the book I was thoroughly convinced of before reading the book I knew that genetics played some role in determining personality and aptitude I was convinced of the probabilistic approach to [...]

    9. David on said:

      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 back science and our understanding of human nature.The chapter on children was especially interesting Pinker rightly gives much credit to Judith Harris excellent book The Nurture Assumption Why Children Turn Ou [...]

    10. L.E. Duncan on said:

      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 reading as if Pinker gathered every single study that seemed to support his position and threw it into a blender, and then threw in a number of screeds against groups he has a bone to pick with The result is [...]

    11. Owlseyes on said:

      Steven Pinker in Oporto, on the 11th of November 2017 my photo Nature, Mr Allnut , is what we are put in this world to rise above Katherine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen Hillary Clinton may have advanced the dumbest explanation in the history of psychobabble, but she does not deserve the charge of trying to excuse the president s husband behavior Pinker makes the case against a man who gets his formation make up only from the outer forces of parenting, education, etc He seems t [...]

    12. Ezra on said:

      so steven pinker got a lot of press out of this thing it is essentially a sustained and detailed case for the predominance of genetic factors in determing human behavior mr pinker is if i recall mainly a developmental neuroscientist if that s a legitimate description he provides a tremendous and very enjoyable welath of case studies and background for the various psychological, philosophical, sociological and biological problems which he subjects to the peculiar dialectical lens of nature nurtur [...]

    13. Sundus HameedUllah Khan on said:

      Wow What an interesting and exquisitely written book This is my first read by this author Steven Pinker He is a psychologist and author of several books and articles on cognition and linguistics In The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature he refuted the widely held belief that the human mind at birth is a tabula rasa blank slate to which the environment nurture gives form and substance He further explained that neither genetics nor environmental conditions are solely responsible for det [...]

    14. Gendou on said:

      Pinker argues cleanly and decisively against the theory of the Blank Slate and its corollary, the Noble Savage You might say he wipes the Blank Slate clean Or that he breaks it over his knee.He examines how motivations for wanting to believe in a Blank Slate come from four fears of human nature 1 The Fear of Inequality if people are innately different, oppression and discrimination like sexism and racism would be justified But people are, in fact, different Ignoring this fact doesn t help addres [...]

    15. David Redden on said:

      The Blank Slate was an informative, thought provoking and polemic book designed to refute ordinary conceptions and intellectual arguments which cut against a sociobiological understanding of humans and human society I detected a couple instances in which the author, Stephen Pinker, overstated scientific conclusions, leading me to doubt the accuracy of his other scientific evidence I also have reservations about the rational actor lens through which he interprets human nature On the other hand, t [...]

    16. Chuck McCabe on said:

      Pinker examines the concept of the mind as a blank slate capable of taking any impressions that arose in England and France in the mid 18th century and became the basis for liberal democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries The blank slate underlies the nurture pole of the nature nurture debate and looms huge in political and social policies Drawing on an immense body of research in psychology and other social sciences, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Pinker makes the case for the nature po [...]

    17. Farha Crystal on said:

      Man will become better when you show him what he is like Anthon ChekovWon t he Maybe, the arguments in this book can t be put any eloquently than the quote of Anton Chekov.The book was both fun and terrible to encounter how supposed liberals experience the cognitive dissonance by having their assumptions and dogmas challenged The author goes over controversies , a number of hot buttons, hot zones, Chernobyls, third rails, and so on including the arts I disagree with him particularly , cloning, [...]

    18. Book on said:

      The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven PinkerThe Blank Slate is an ambitious book that goes after the blank slate fallacy that is the idea that the human mind has no inherent structure and can be inscribed at will by society or ourselves It s a social biological study of nature versus nature This excellent 528 page book is composed of the following six parts Part I The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine, Part II Fear and Loathing, Part III Human Natu [...]

    19. César on said:

      4,5Estar a bien que, pasados ya 15 a os desde su aparici n, Pinker publicase una puesta al d a y ampliaci n Puerta de entrada para aquellos interesados en la psicolog a basada en la biolog a y la teor a de la evoluci n y laselecci n natural.

    20. رحمان on said:

      This is a good introductory book to the nature vs nurture debate if you keep in mind that Pinker is very biased He suffers, sadly like many scientists do, from selection bias he picks studies that support his views while ignoring those that don t Still, if you can spot and ignore his ideology driven arguments, you can get a good deal out of this book.The biggest problem with Pinker is his over reliance on Evolutionary Psychology a relatively new discipline that tries to explain our behavior by u [...]

    21. ThomasJackson on said:

      This book was amazing, One of those books when you come out on the other side of it you can see some changes in your life and in your perceptionSteven Pinker you are a badass great book And thank you Morgan for the recommendation.

    22. Fadi on said:

      Innate Temperament A Terrifying Idea We are not, as many people assume, blank slates shaped by our environment In his book The Blank Slate The modern denial of Human Nature , Steven Pinker argues that modern science evolutionary psychology and neuroscience in particular has challenged three linked dogmas that constitute the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life 1 The Blank Slate aka Tabula Rasa adopted by the empiricists the mind has no innate traits, and therefore all knowledge com [...]

    23. Steven Peterson on said:

      Pinker takes on a perspective regarding human nature that tended to dominate the social sciences in the 20th century with many adherents of the position still active now , namely that humans are blank slates and their life course is highly malleable He says Pages 2 3 That theory of human nature namely that it barely exists is the topic of this book.Challenges to the doctrine from skeptics and scientists have pushed some believers into a crisis of faith and have led others to mount the kinds of b [...]

    24. Brett Hilton on said:

      Steven Pinker is an excellent writer, but I have major problems with this book For starters, his main argument that the blank slate hypothesis is untenable is something of a straw man argument How many people today actually believe that genes don t shape our brains, and thus our minds I m friends with many anthropology students who have read about the blank slate hypothesis, and their criticism of sociobiology is often directed at writers in the 19th century and EO Wilson, who himself is prone t [...]

    25. Nick Davies on said:

      Though this took me a fortnight to read, this is in no way a reflection of the book being hard going this is a dense and well researched exploration of a number of interlinked aspects of sociology, biology, genetics and politics and it was absorbing and rich and full of interesting points.Difficult to review, however, because it feels like a buffet of information that I have been snacking on for a couple of weeks I ve turned over the corner of ten or twelve pages of particular interest wanting t [...]

    26. Kunal Sen on said:

      Not that I was convinced by all the arguments presented in this book, but it is an incredible joy to discover a single book that echoes so many thoughts that have been percolating in my mind, and to hear the same things I have been trying to say, argued and articulated so well With age I have come to dislike the idea of an ideology, any ideology Anything that compels us to think that something is correct or good because it ought to be correct Reality does not care how any of us feel about it Als [...]

    27. Ana Rînceanu on said:

      Interesting, especially the last third, but I wish I had read this book earlier.

    28. Paul on said:

      I can t finish this The first third or so of the book is interesting and important, mostly because of the discussion about cognitive neuroscience I think it s extremely important that any educated person in the modern or future world get a solid basic understanding of what we know and don t know about how the human brain works Obviously that will govern our whole understanding of psychology, sociology, and human life in general Anyone who wants his or her worldview to actually reflect reality ha [...]

    29. Juan on said:

      Poderos simo libro que rompe todas las concepciones sociopol ticas previas que se pudieran tener, usando la Psicolog a, la Estad stica y las ciencias de la evoluci n biol gica y los estudios sociales Terminas de leerlo y, si has dejado que pase por ti, no sales siendo la misma persona Esto, aplicable de manera rom ntica a cualquier libro, es una certeza con este tras asimilar lo que expone, es obligatorio que no sea el mismo que era antes de leerlo Lo bueno es que soy, inevitablemente, m s libre [...]

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