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Blank Slate The Denial of Human Nature and Modern Intellectual Life

ISBN-10: 0670031518
ISBN-13: 9780670031511
Edition: 2002
Authors: Steven Pinker
List price: $27.95
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Description: 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,  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 9/30/2002
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 528
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.75" tall
Weight: 2.2
Language: English

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.

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born U.S. experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker is the author of several non-fiction bestsellers including: The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005 and 2008; in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, and the University of Troms�, Norway. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.

Preface
The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine
The Official Theory
Silly Putty
The Last Wall to Fall
Culture Vultures
The Slate's Last Stand
Fear and Loathing
Political Scientists
The Holy Trinity
Human Nature with a Human Face
The Fear of Inequality
The Fear of Imperfectibility
The Fear of Determinism
The Fear of Nihilism
Know Thyself
In Touch with Reality
Out of Our Depths
The Many Roots of Our Suffering
The Sanctimonious Animal
Hot Buttons
Politics
Violence
Gender
Children
The Arts
The Voice of the Species
Donald E. Brown's List of Human Universals
Notes
References
Index

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