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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature Paperback – August 26, 2003
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"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 reading...an unanswerable case for accepting that man can be, as he is, both wired and free." (Frederick Raphael, Los Angeles Times)
About the Author
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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Top customer reviews
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Like the definitions of human freedom, human nature does not lead to simple definitions. It is a matter of understanding and education with no absolute boundaries. Steven Pinker makes this point clear but some of the reviewers assumes this book presents the argument that a person's nature is all predetermined - it does not and in fact refutes that premise. It also rejects with facts the premise that a person's environment determines their nature.
This magnificent book can be upsetting but if read in context, it will lead the reader to a better understanding of human nature and our world. Thank you Steven Pinker for a true gift.
Pinker casts very wide net in his attempt to discredit the blank slate theory, and indeed points out that its assumptions are present in many aspects of our lives. This is good part of the book. Another good part is that he cites research for his thesis, and for such a layman as myself, he makes a point. HIs argument certainly left me thinking.
However, there are many parts when this book becomes tiresome. His original point often gets lost or muddied in his numerous digressions, and he spends a lot of time on describing injustices done to for example proponents of sociobiology or authors of "Natural History of Rape", wich sometimes seem almost like an appeal to pity. By picking the most extreme examples from the other side Pinker builds a kind of strawman - very subtle one, but still. He even admits in the ending passages of his book, that no one really acts as if they believed in the absolute blank slate that he spend 600+ pages deconstructing.
After all this he leaves the reader with little to hang on to, having spend most of his time on criticism, and almost none on proposing an alternative - which he candidly admits, he does not have. Some bits and pieces can be picked out from the text, but it is hardly inspirational, and the vision is very incomplete.
I wish this book were more concise, more to the point, and more constructive. Then I would recommend it heartily. But as it is, it does not make a good (not even mentioning easy) read, and often tests reader's patience.
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Pinker, a consummate Humanist, provides much backing to his thesis...Read more