Steven Pinker's book criticises the "Blank
Slate" doctrine that human behaviour results
entirely from "nurture" (environmental/social
factors). He gives examples of "innate"
behaviours ("human nature") which
refute the Blank Slate. He claims that the denial
of human nature .
Throughout the book, Pinker criticises psychology,
social science, modernism and postmodernism,
based on the generalisation that these fields
subscribe to the Blank Slate doctrine. Pinker
often writes about "psychology" and
"social science" as if they were homogenous,
single-viewpoint fields: (p24).
Occasionally, Pinker singles out a branch of
psychology (or social science) for closer analysis
eg behaviorism. But, mostly, he generalises:
Anybody who has read more than a handful of
books on psychology or social science should
be able to detect a degree of overstatement
in the above quotes from Pinker.
The chapter on "The Arts" also contains
overstatements, mainly about modernism and postmodernism,
which, he claims,
Pinker offers his services: (p412)..
Apart from the corruption of art by the Blank
Slate, he points out some broader problems: (p401)
Pinker makes it clear that "Blank Slate"
refers to an extreme denial of human "nature"
rather than a mere leaning towards "nurture".
(He refers to the . He writes as if he believes that
almost everyone in the fields of psychology,
social science, modernism and postmodernism
subscribes to this extreme viewpoint. Until
page 422, that is. Then he says: )
If he suspects that few people "really
believe" in the Blank Slate, then why does
he claim it has . Is Pinker engaged in some kind of
"straw man" put-on? Why does he claim
that the Blank Slate doctrine threatens us with
Pinker associates the Blank Slate with totalitarianism
on several occasions, but doesn't provide any
evidence of correlation, never mind causation.
The closest he gets is in claiming that some
behaviorists, modernist architects and Marxists
had ideas with totalitarian implications. Regardless
of whether this claim is valid, it doesn't demonstrate
a correlation between the Blank Slate and totalitarianism.