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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

10/31/2002 6:30 PM 10-250
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology; Harvard University;

Description: From the book jacket: Our conceptions of human nature affect every aspect of our lives, from the way we raise our children to the political movements we embrace. Yet just as science is bringing us into a golden age of understanding human nature, many people are hostile to the very idea. They fear that a biological understanding of the mind will be used to justify inequality, subvert social change, and dissolve personal responsibility and strip life of meaning and purpose. In The Blank Slate Pinker retraces the history that led people to view human nature as dangerous, and unsnarls the moral and political debates that have entangled the idea along the way.

Steven Pinker is introduced by Samuel Jay Keyser, Peter de Florez Emeritus Professor at MIT, Linguistics and Philosophy faculty. http://web.mit.edu/keyser/www/

In his introduction, Keyser describes Pinker as the "new age guru for the machinery of thought".

About the Speaker(s): Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He returned to Harvard in September 2003 after 21 years at MIT, where he was most recently the Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. A native of Montreal, he received his B.A. from McGill University in 1976 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard in 1979. His scholarship has brought him awards and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Many more awards and worldwide recognition have come from several popular science books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and most recently, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

Host(s): Office of the Provost, MIT Libraries

Tape #: T14044.

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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