The Blank Slate

  • by Steven Pinker
  • Narrated by Victor Bevine
  • 22 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.
NOTE: Some changes to the original text have been made with the author's approval.

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What the Critics Say

"[P]ersuasive and illuminating." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Instant classic

The intellectual vigour demonstrated by Pinker is amazing. He spans a field so wide that most other would have problems keeping any depth, but not here.

Pinker deals with many of the most fundamental philosophical and political issues both with attention to detail and a constant reference to the whole.

It is a tough listen, and I found myself repeatedly rewind and listen to chapters again, to make sure I got it all. I have also bought the paper version, as it is easier to use for quick referencing.

Possibly the book could have been shorter. A version 1/3 of the length would catch most of the argument but with fewer examples, and that would probably suffice for most readers.

As an academic, Pinker is a true inspiration for me to get out of bed earlier, work harder, and examine my subjects more carefully. He truly sets a standard of his own in this field.

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- C. J. Hamilton

Great book from an amazing polymath author

The scope of this book is extremely wide but centered on how the Blank Slate (i.e., the concept that babies have no innate traits and are totally shaped by environment, especially homelife) has permeated our views of many issues, despite being thoroughly discredited by scientific research.

Dr. Pinker examines such varied phenomena as pay disparities between men and women, the decline of popular interest in art, the effect of parenting styles on childhood development, why violence is related to the concept of honor for inner city youth and the Mafia, and many other topics. In each case, he approaches each issue logically but often in a way that is at first counter-intuitive.

His main point is that we need to reject the dogma of the Blank Slate to get at truth. He also examines how those who reject this dogma can be excoriated by the narrow-minded intellectual elite who wish to promote a scientifically unfounded utopian political agenda.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in this subject. I cannot remember being more influenced by a book I have read.
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- Frank

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-01-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios