The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002)


Steven Pinker (writer).


An expansion upon the last chapter of The Language Instinct (1994), on the idea of human minds as empty containers at birth.


This was my first experience with Pinker. Though he has since made some poorly founded political comments, this was eye-opening. The concept of the blank slate remains influential. Pinker could have been even more careful charting the spectrum of actual beliefs to avoid accusations of straw-manning, but you need to recognize at least the basic form of the concept to understand Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), most parenting advice, and—in my own experience—a whole lot of academic writing in the humanities.

non-fiction text