The Blank Slate

The Blank Slate : The Modern Denial of Human Nature

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A brilliant inquiry into the origins of human nature from the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now. "Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read..also highly persuasive." --Time

Now updated with a new afterword

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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 528 pages
  • 152.4 x 233.68 x 30.48mm | 544.31g
  • Penguin Books
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0142003344
  • 9780142003343
  • 33,567

Review quote

"Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read. It's also highly persuasive." ("Time")
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About Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature, is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.
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Review Text

"An extremely good book-clear, well argued, fair, learned, tough, witty, humane, stimulating." (The Washington Post)

"Pinker makes his main argument persuasively and with great verve...ought to be read by anybody who feels they hav had enough of the nature-nurture rows." (The Economist)

"Stylish...what a superb thinker and writer he is." (Richard Dawkins, TLS)

"Required unanswerable case for accepting that man can be, as he is, both wired and free." (Frederick Raphael, Los Angeles Times)
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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



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Rating details

16,904 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 41% (6,897)
4 35% (5,948)
3 17% (2,820)
2 5% (832)
1 2% (407)
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