This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human…

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Steven Pinker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,569422,142 (4.08)66
Title:The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
Authors:Steven Pinker
Info:Penguin Books (2003), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (Author) (2002)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 66 mentions

English (40)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Steven Pinker explores what was the latest research in evolutionary psychology and human nature in 2002 and how it puts to rest what he portrays as three hoary myths of the Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine.

I don't have the background and technical knowledge to assess whether Pinker is right about what advances in the scientific study of human pyschology are showing us, but it sounds plausible. Certainly, his accounts of the pitchfork-and-torch waving mob reaction to those whose research and conclusions are deemed to transgress against what some want to be true of human psychology on ideological grounds ring even more true in the days of increased social media. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Aug 5, 2018 |
Thought provoking and insightful. A heavy read full of discussion topics and theories for years to come. ( )
  CherieKephart | Aug 3, 2017 |
Excellent book about how we got to this idea that everyone is malleable and "fixable". Overly detailed so it was a bit tedious but well worth the listen ( )
  ShadowBarbara | Jan 27, 2017 |
This is a must-read. Pinker argues against the notion that humans are born with a blank slate of personality, etc. Instead, he asserts that we are animals just like every other animal that has certain genetic tendencies and instincts from birth. He does not deny that the environment or our culture has an impact on how we behave, though. I cannot give this book enough praise. ( )
  fliesbath | Oct 26, 2015 |
In The Blank Slate, Pinker outlines three dogmas that he says are the prevailing views of human nature in modern philosophy:

1) The blank slate, in which the mind has no innate (genetic) properties and, as John Watson boasted, through conditioning you could train a child to become anybody you want her to become.

2) The noble savage, in which people are born good, and society forms them into deviants. Pinker suggested that Rousseau was a strong proponent of this theory, but according to Wikipedia (which is always accurate), Rousseau never used this term.

3) The ghost in the machine, in which people's choices are solely dependent upon their soul.

Pinker provides evidence that these three dogmas are false, and that there is a strong genetic drive in human behavior. He covers diverse topics including racism, violence, rape, and feminism (among many others).

Overall, I found this book fascinating. I didn't think I was going to agree with Pinker...especially when I first started the book. But he presented some pretty good arguments that convinced me to waffle, if not to change my mind. I was a bit put off by Pinker's arrogance (like when he says that he's "proven" something when he's only provided evidence), but I guess that's to be expected in many well-respected intellectuals.

To see my full review: http://hibernatorslibrary.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-blank-slate-by-stephen-pinker... ( )
  The_Hibernator | Sep 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
It is breathtaking, rabid stuff. In particular, Pinker's monstering of Marxists and feminists is likely to reduce most university common-rooms to states of gibbering apoplexy. So be it, Pinker will doubtless respond: my only concern is to tell the truth about human nature. The question is: does he actually land any telling punches in the process?
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Don, Judy, Leda, and John
First words
"Not another book on nature and nurture! Are there really people out there who still believe that the mind is a blank slate?"


Everyone has a theory of human nature.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003344, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:57 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"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 by embracing three linked 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 injects calm and rationality into these debates by showing that equality, progress, responsibility, and purpose have nothing to fear from discoveries about a rich human nature. He disarms even the most menacing threats with clear thinking, common sense, and pertinent facts from science and history. Despite its popularity among intellectuals during much of the twentieth century, he argues, the doctrine of the Blank Slate may have done more harm than good. It denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces hardheaded analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of government, violence, parenting, and the arts." "Pinker shows that an acknowledgement of human nature that is grounded in science and common sense, far from being dangerous, can complement insights 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: wit, lucidity, and insight into matters great and small."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.08)
1 7
1.5 1
2 20
2.5 7
3 86
3.5 27
4 203
4.5 24
5 211

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 130,727,610 books! | Top bar: Always visible