The Blank Slate
This book is focused on the idea that all of our mental functions are a product of our brain. There is no ghost in the machine, for example, no separate entity that occupies the body. “Savages” are not noble; civilized societies are more “noble” than uncivilized societies, according to Pinker. Pinker also suggests that we have many innate behaviors, we are not a blank slate that can be programmed by society.
The blank slate, noble savage and ghost in the machine hypotheses are probably the most commonly held views today. Tell me how Pinker says these concepts evolved (ie what social factors and events lead to the development and widespread acceptance of these views). How does Pinker challenge these views (what evidence does he present to challenge them?). These are issues where we are undergoing a paradigm shift in some areas. Many people do not want to let go of the blank slate especially because they want to believe that people can be socially programmed and that societies are the product of things like social policy as opposed to being products of inborn human behaviors. The idea that men and women are different psychologically is a major issue. What do you think of that?
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