Jason Straight, August 23, 2010 (view all comments by Jason Straight)
Stephen Pinker chalks up the blank slate. Drawing on a broad array of disciplines (psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy) Pinker subtly and persuasively argues that humans come prepackaged with a broad array of mental faculties and traits. This, however, is not another tired nature/nurture book, but turns the whole argument on its head by appealing constantly to the best current scientific evidence. One of the seminal books of our time.
Drumbo, January 25, 2010 (view all comments by Drumbo)
With lively, unpretentious wit, Pinker unveils the folly of the blank slate, the noble savage, and the ghost in the machine. What he offers in their stead is a feast for the intellect and a morally uplifting view of our species.
In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on language and the workings of the mind, Pulitzer Prize finalist Pinker has undertaken the most ambitious and controversial work of his career--a brilliant reexamination of the concept of human nature.
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