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FROM THE VAULTS: BLANK SLATES AND STRAW DOGS

Pandaemonium

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Continuing my series of old essays and talks about human nature that I have not previously published on Pandaemonium, this is a review of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate and John Gray’s Straw Dogs. It was first published in Prospect, October 2002.


Review of The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker and
Straw Dogs by John Gray, Prospect, October 2002

The psychologist Geoff Miller has called it a ‘paradigm shift’: the restoration of human nature into discussions of human behaviour, political policy and social organisation. Where once the idea of human nature was treated with suspicion and ridicule, today there is barely a human activity for which someone does not have an evolutionary account.

A key figure in bringing about this change in the intellectual climate has been the psychologist Steven Pinker. Books such as The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works have established…

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