Steven Pinker The Blank Slate

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Is the mind a blank slate? Are we molded by our environment: a blank tablet simply inscribed by our culture and upbringing? Not according to Steven Pinker. In his book entitled ‘The Blank Slate’ he provides a gripping argument against the tabula rasa models in social science. Pinker embarks upon the difficult task of demolishing the myths surrounding human behavior through the exploration of its history, and examining the moral, emotional and political factors of human nature in modern life. Throughout the text he employs historical findings and scientific studies to portray his theory; however whether his argument is satisfactory is disputable. Pinker distinctly structures his book, firstly providing the reader with the core knowledge of…show more content…
These three doctrines: the blank slate (empiricism), the noble savage (romanticism) and the ghost in the machine (dualism) construct the principal view of human nature. Pinker delves deep into the history and origins of these doctrines, enriching the reader with the foundations of the doctrines before attacking their very existence. Such vast and in depth information enables this book to by accessible by many as it lays the foundations before delving into argument. The very first doctrine, the blank slate is the idea that the human mind at birth is indeed blank; it is a slate that is waiting to be inscribed. The mind has no innate knowledge and is simply created out of the environment and experiences of the individual. Pinker traces this model back to philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) who highlights the importance of experiences in shaping oneself. Locke proposes any child has the potential to be intelligent, artistic or aggressive, if only they had been brought up in that way. Thus an alteration in experience leads to a causal effect, which alters the person. Accompanying the blank slate is a second doctrine, the noble savage, this term originates from a poem written by John Dryden (1631-1700). This notion supports the idea of an innate universal nature, which is entirely good and pure, and that violence and anger have been inflicted upon individuals due to…show more content…
Nor does it help that Pinker portrayed an extremist version of feminism as the norm, and laid his argument of neurological differences between the sexes on this basis. What proves to be highly irritating is Pinker’s complete failure to provide explanations to studies, that are intended to support his thesis. We are told ‘A variety of sexual motives, including taste in men, vary with the menstrual cycle’ with a lack of supporting data. However in comparison to my next point, this comment seems tedious. Pinker provides an argument in favor of the common sense approach in terms of rape. Stating women should dress like provocatively in order to not attract the attention of men, whose evolutionary-evolved sexual attitude at times consumes them. Thus this chapter may not sit well the feminists in the

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