Wednesday, 8 October 2008
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Allen Lane Science) by Steven Pinker
A wonderful book. Just a smidgen shy of the almost impossible five stars for me.
Here we are given a detailed and yet enjoyable tour of the various theories of the human mind. Are we born a blank slate, do noble savages exist and is there a ghost in your machine.
We are also given a history of the various explanations and how they have been used and abused over the centuries. Just how much this question has been the subject of religious and political intrigue, flag waving and prejudice is pretty mind boggling.
Pinker takes us through the traditional objections to the apparent facts, why people don't like them and why. Not understanding the theories of the mind seems to lead to many unfounded fears which in turn leads many genuine people to nail their colours to irrational masts.
Ultimately we are also given an uplifting view of the scientific thinking and of how it can be life affirming and supportive of moves to widen equality and a caring society.
Clearly written for the lay person. If you have a brain then read this book, it will help you to you yourself a little bit better - and you can't really get a better recommendation for a book than that.
Four and a half out of five stars.