Pinker, Steven, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

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Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking, 2002. Also available in pb.

Important addition to the philosophical debate on "the ghost in the machine," summarizing the debate and extending in light of late 20th-c. science. Explicit on the politics of the preference on the Left for "The Blank Slate" and "The Noble Savage" as alternatives to theories of a partly or largely innate human nature, with ignoble potentials. See in this Category citation for R. Descartes[[1]] and works cross-listed there. CAUTION: See references in backmatter of TBS for absence of citations to the works of some people whose theories SP critiques, and to at least one early worker in behavior genetic analysis (Jerry Hirsch). Note that utopists in the tradition of Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia (1516) do assume a human nature and ask how to get the best behavior possible out of flawed human beings (e.g., for More and other Christians, subject, most centrally, to Pride and Greed).