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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Steven Pinker
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Kurzbeschreibung

26. August 2003
In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.


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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 528 Seiten
  • Verlag: Penguin Books; Auflage: Reprint (26. August 2003)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0142003344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003343
  • Vom Hersteller empfohlenes Alter: Ab 18 Jahren
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,6 x 15,4 x 2,9 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (3 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 57.406 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Produktbeschreibungen

Amazon.de

In The Blank Slate, the bestselling author Steven Pinker produces his most polemical and convincing attack upon the nurture side of the nature versus nurture debate. Pinker's previous books The Language Instinctand How the Mind Works have already attracted huge praise and controversy in arguing that language and cognition are natural rather than cultural. In The Blank Slate he refines and extends his arguments.

The book is aimed at "people who wonder where the taboo against human nature came from", and promises to explain "the moral, emotional and political colorings of the concept of human nature in modern life". For Pinker, the belief that we are all born as "blank slates" upon which culture places its decisive imprint is not only wrong but dangerous. He persuasively argues that "the conviction that humanity could be reshaped by massive social engineering projects led to some of the greatest atrocities in history". This is all very well, but at over 500 pages it can also be daunting for the general reader, as Pinker takes on all-comers, from biologists and sociologists to a dizzying array of classical thinkers from Calvin and Hobbes to Marx and Dawkins. The sections on gender will undoubtedly inflame many feminist writers (the most persuasive of which Pinker sadly neglects to discuss), and the criticisms of modern art are flimsy, but The Blank Slate is an impressive and sustained broadside that cannot be ignored. -–Jerry Brotton -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Pressestimmen

"Steven Pinker has written an extremely good book-clear, well argued, fair, learned, tough, witty, humane, stimulating." (The Washington Post)

"Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read. It's also highly persuasive." (Time)


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Einleitungssatz
"BLANK SLATE" IS a loose translation of the medieval Latin term tabula rasa-literally, "scraped tablet." Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ein Meisterwerk 25. November 2008
Format:Taschenbuch
Steven Pinker wird von manchen Leuten, vor allem in Deutschland, als "Schreiberling" oder "Popularisator" abqualifiziert. Dieses Urteil ist sehr, sehr deutsch und es wird ihm überhaupt nicht gerecht. Pinker ist nämlich ein sehr kluger Mann, der sehr viel weiß und sehr viel kann: Er kann lesen, er kann denken, er kann schreiben. Die Harvard University wird schon gewusst haben, warum sie ihn (wahrscheinlích nicht nur mit Geld!) vom MIT abgeworben hat.

Manche Kapitel dieses Buches habe ich zwei oder gar drei mal gelesen. Die Materie ist nicht simpel, sie erfordert schon Gründlichkeit bei der Lektüre.

Das Buch räumt sehr gründlich, aber ohne Fanatismus mit einer Ideologie auf, die schon sehr viel Schaden angerichtet hat, nämlich mit der Ideologie, dass der Mensch eine tabula rasa ist, die beliebig beschrieben werden kann.

Wenn der Mensch eine solche tabula rasa wäre, könnte es kein Unrecht sein, auf ihr nach Belieben herumzukratzen. Dementsprechend haben Diktatoren und Massenmörder wie Lenin, Stalin, Mao und Pol Pot keinerlei Skrupel gehabt, Menschen terroristisch umzuerziehen und sie bei Erziehungsresistenz verhungern zu lassen oder sie direkt abzuschlachten. Die Ideologie der tabula rasa, des unbeschriebenen Blattes, lädt geradezu dazu ein. Kommt der Mensch dagegen als kleines Buch auf die Welt, mit seiner eigenen Würde, seiner eigenen Story, seiner eigenen Epik, wäre es ein Sakrileg, zumindest aber eine grobe Fälschung, den Text umzuschreiben.

Das ist eine der wichtigen moralischen und ideologiekritischen Botschaften dieses Buches.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen großartig. punkt. 13. Oktober 2013
Von Klaus
Format:Kindle Edition
Auch, wenn ich 10 Jahre gebraucht habe, es zu finden: danke für dieses Buch. Und schön zu wissen, dass immer noch Leute veröffentlichen dürfen, die selbst denken können.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ausgewogener als man denken würde 26. September 2011
Von Anna Lena
Format:Taschenbuch
Pinker ist kein radikaler Biologist, obgleich ihm das häufig nachgesagt wird. Das Buch ist ein guter Einstieg in die Vorbedingtheit, mit der wir zu leben haben.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Because we're all relatives, it's not all relative 20. Oktober 2002
Von Royce E. Buehler - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Cultural relativism, the intellectual underpinnings of which rest on a faith (whether acknowledged or not) in the supremacy of nurture over nature, has had a long run. But has its boiler run out of steam at last?
In his latest and by far his most ambitious work, Steven Pinker tells us, in a lively but dispassionate voice of sweet reason, that the answer is yes. His demolition of cultural relativism may well make him a lot of enemies. He's touched on many of these same ideas before, but now he is spelling out the consequences - and the incompatibility of those consequences with the received wisdom of most of the last century.
His fundamental message is: Yes, Virginia, there is a human nature. People of all cultures are born with a host of inborn predispositions - to acquire language and music, to favor kin over strangers, to desire sex and to be ashamed of it, to value even trades and to punish cheaters, and dozens more. Our common nature springs from our common biology; it is not very malleable, and it is not "socially constructed." Cultural diversity is marvelous, but it is all a variation on an immutable theme; and there have never been any human cultures free of war, of greed, or of prescribed gender roles. (Any more than there have ever been any free of conflict resolution techniques, altruism, and shared parenting.)
His secondary theme is that the differences between people, so much smaller than what we have in common, are also primarily biologically determined. A juggernaut of data has finally put the nature/nurture controversy to rest, at least from a scientific standpoint, and the final score is pretty much nature one, nurture zero. Fifty to seventy percent of the variation between individuals - in intelligence, in personality, in political leanings, or just about any other mental character you care to name - derives from the genes; zero to ten percent derives from the home environment; and the mysterious remainder is due to chance or to non-parental environment.
We have been conditioned in recent decades to think of both these contentions as shocking. They violate two precepts Pinker designates the "sacred doctrines in modern intellectual life." He calls them The Blank Slate (with a nod to Locke), and The Noble Savage (with a nod to Rousseau.) The first holds that ideas, likes, dislikes, and personalities are all the result of what Locke called "sense impressions", that is, they are all imprinted on us by our environments. The second is a little more modest, but forms the seductive core of the first, because we'd all like it to be true. It holds that all our unpleasant ideas, likes, dislikes, and neurotic tics are forced by a wicked society upon an infant slate which is, if not blank, devoid of all blemish.
Pinker spends the first hundred pages tracing the lineage of these sacred doctrines (and of a third, neither so carefully examined nor so carefully defined, which he calls The Ghost in the Machine. The philosophers who originated the phrase were trying to deny the reality of consciousness, but what Pinker is trying to deny turns out to be narrower - essentially, the doctrine that whatever biological nature we may have can be overriden by a soul or self with a free will independent of biology.) He explores what has made the three doctrines attractive to all of us, but especially to the academic left, and the deep fears which have made it taboo, as E.O. Wilson found to his cost, to contradict them.
He then explains, carefully and (at least with respect to the first two) convincingly, why the fears in question are groundless - and why we should rather fear the ill effects of suppressing this new knowledge about human nature.
Finally, he takes up in a series of individual chapters several of the hot-button political and social issues that are affected by the existence of an objective human nature, and by the largely genetic basis of most human differences: the source of the left/right divide in politics, the root causes of violence, what objective gender differences (and the biological influences bearing on rape) do and do not mean for public policy, the coming irrelevance of the child-rearing advice industry, and a rather curmudgeonly take on what he sees as the well-deserved unpopularity of avant-garde art.
The child-rearing chapter is particularly eye-opening, while the violence chapter offers some fairly fresh ideas, not so much on its origins, which are the same for us as for chimpanzees, but on the variables affecting its expression. Also notable is Pinker's calm, complete demolition, on strictly biological grounds, of the notion that an embryo is "ensouled" at the moment of conception. (Perhaps still more notable, and indicative of the book's even tenor for all its polemics, is his refusal to draw any pro-choice conclusion from that.)
It's a joy to see some of Pinker's more irrational targets, from die-hard Marxism to the rejection of science itself by "critical theory" to the bromide that rape isn't "about" sexual desire, skewered with such swift and classical neatness. The longer lasting pleasures will come from a leisurely unpacking and sifting of all his positive conjectures, conclusions, and insights. It's a book you can zip through in a couple of nights, or return to for thought-fodder for years.
65 von 74 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Nature vs. nurture case closed--with reservations 25. Dezember 2002
Von M. Spiller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Sociobiology is a controversial, yet important and growing field of scientific exploration. No other field of science elicits as much condemnation from academics and intellectuals, yet no other scientific endeavor has ever cast as much light on the truth about the evolution of human nature. The reason for the distain shown by academic intellectuals is sociobiology's crushing refutation of the concept known as the "blank slate" theory of human nature, which has become the cornerstone of postmodernist ideals of political correctness. The entire edifice of the postmodern human engineering project carried on at many universities and in the popular media is based upon the concept that "everything is political", and that the attribute we call "human nature" is nothing more than cultural propaganda instilled into children by their parents and reinforced throughout their lives by a rigid, chauvinistic propaganda machine that has become known as "Western Civilization". Evidence is fast mounting that human nature is anything but nonexistent, sociobiology is the area of science where this evidence is researched and proven, and Steven Pinker has done a good job of organizing and, with some reservations, elucidating the evidence. In short, boys and girls are no more identical above the neck than they are below, and every personal psychological attribute is nearly as genetically heritable as every physical attribute. This book proves to my satisfaction that human nature is a factor in the human condition, and that the blank slate theory of personality is a politically correct joke.
This is a long book, a bit tedious in places, but well written, interesting and even humorous overall. The inference that genetic influences are the all-important factor in life outcome is, I think, patently false and contradicted by experience and common sense. The best possible proof of this is contained in a short, fascinating book written by Theodore Dalrymple called "Life at the bottom", which I would strongly recommend as a reality-check by which to measure some of the tenants of sociobiology presented in Pinker's book. This is especially useful when evaluating chapter 19 on the debate about nature/nurture as it concerns children. Dalrymple's book is a collection of anecdotes gleaned from the experiences of a physician who has spent his life ministering to the British underclass. He does not discredit sociobiology, a subject which is never mentioned in his book. He illuminates the subject in the light of harsh reality.
In spite of its deficiencies, however, sociobiology goes a long way toward explaining how genetic tendencies coalesce into the characteristics known as "human nature". It also casts light upon the reasons that 20th century attempts to engineer utopian societies culminated in failure (and in the case of Marxist projects, the deaths of as many as a hundred million people). Sociobiology is, however explicitly silent upon the subject of how best to contain these human impulses in order to establish and maintain an orderly, yet progressive and free civilization. The "fact" of Human Nature presents us with a slew of "natural" behaviors. On the other hand, just because a behavior may be natural does not necessarily mean that its uninhibited expression is appropriate for the maintenance of an orderly civilization and a happy life.
While evidence from sociobiology seems to refute some of the cherished beliefs of modern conservatism as well as liberalism, the case against liberalism is much stronger. Pinker works very hard to establish his credentials as a modern liberal throughout the book, and in some areas I believe that his desire to be seen as a liberal has colored the conclusions he draws from his evidence. This is definitely a worthwhile book. Take the evidence seriously, but be wary when navigating the shoals of the author's opinions.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting, but not particularly well researched 31. Oktober 2004
Von debeehr - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Pinker constructs an elaborate and well-thought out argument, and his overall thesis is one whose outlines I largely agree with--that as biological creatures, humans are influenced by biology in many ways, often so subtly that we are unaware of it. Humans are animals, after all, and subject to the same instinctual drives and influences as other animals are; it's only human arrogance that would ever lead us to think otherwise. His assertion that humans are inherently *both* peaceable, kind, and generous *and* violent, savage and cruel, is one that I also agree with; see my point above about humans being animals.

However, I have doubts about the validity of some of the information Pinker presents here. One reviewer called Pinker a "polymath;" another and less favorable way to state that might be to say "jack of all trades, master of none." Pinker presents scores upon scores of statistics, facts, factoids and examples to buttress his claims, and at first glance it does all appear to be very impressive. However, on closer inspection, I found that claims pertaining to fields of which I had knowledge were all somewhat dubious. For example, his contrast on page 45 of common chimps and bonobos, in which he characterizes common chimps as "among the most aggressive mammals known to zoology" and bonobos as "among the most peaceful," "in common chimps, males dominate the females while among bonobos the females have the upper hand, common chimps have sex for procreation, bonobos for recreation" is a gross oversimplification of the differences between these two species, to the point of caricature if not outright distortion. His attribution of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs to the superior technology of the Spaniards is a popular Western fantasy that has been strongly challenged in recent years. In particular one very persuasive alternate explanation that has been put forth argues that the defeat of the Aztecs was largely a Native American phenomenon: the Aztecs had succeeded in angering a very large proportion of the surrounding civilizations, so that when Cortes showed up, he served as a rallying point for large numbers of these disaffected peoples. These nations were willing to contribute large numbers of troops to fight alongside him, and it was largely thanks to these indigenous troops that Cortes was able to succeed. Certainly it can be argued that this is a more persuasive hypothesis than that a small band of Europeans, in unfamiliar territory with limited supplies and ammuntion, were able to all on their own throw down one of the largest empires of the New World, no matter *what* technological advantages they may have possessed. Pinker also does not often cite the primary literature; a large number of his factoids are drawn from books. This is a problem, as often the peer review process for books is not as stringent as that applied to articles published in journals.

In addition, I found Pinker's analysis of sexual assault to be severely flawed. While I agree with Pinker that the concept that "rape is not about sex, it is about power" has in some circles ascended to the status of dogma and is a concept that deserves some thorough scrutiny (the idea that all sexual assault everywhere across all cultures is only about one thing?), again, he doesn't seem to have a good understanding of the cultural and social dynamics surrounding sex roles and sexual assault. For example, he argues that feminists assert that "fear of rape has to be pounded into women by ... social influence." This is a distortion of an assertion by feminist thinkers that fear of rape--in particular, fear of "stranger rape," the least common form of rape--is often deployed as a tactic to limit women's behavior, freedom, and freedom of choice. For example, traditional societies that place heavy restrictions on women's dress, appearance and behavior often claim they are doing so in order to "protect" them.

His assertion that countries with far more rigid gender roles demonstrate far fewer rates of rape overlooks the fact that societies with rigid gender roles and norms will often very severely penalize rape victims who come forward. Therefore the seemingly low rate of sexual assault in these societies cannot *by any means* be taken at face value. Furthermore, many incidents which are considered rape in modern Western society are often not so considered in more traditional societies (or indeed, in our own, until very recently). So for example in the case of marital rape, though the woman knows she did not consent to sex, and though she experiences great distress over the event, she will not consider it rape because according to the norms of her society she does not have the right to refuse sex with her husband, so therefore she "cannot" be raped by him. This also affects rape statistics. Finally, in seeking to demonstrate that rape is about sex, he overlooks many situations where it is *also* about power. For example, he asserts that rapists tend to be males with marginal status in society. Perhaps many of them are, but how about those who are not? For example, the captain of industry who is accustomed to getting his way in every situation and will not take no for an answer from his lowly secretary?

Pinker does do a very good job laying out the history behind the "blank slate" approach and explaining some of the ideological reasons why people are so committed to this position--and he does indicate that this position is often adopted for irreproachable moral reasons; his main issue is that this adoption often leads to distortions of the evidence being presented as fact. He is plain about how and why he thinks the ideological use of bioloical data is wrongheaded and harmful. His reasoning is often well-thought-out and comprehensive, based on the information he presents. However, in his drive to bring the "nature" side into prominence, I feel he overly rejects the influence of culture. As previously stated, I also have qualms about the accuracy of much of the information he tosses in; based on the matters of which I have knowledge, Pinker does not always adequately grasp the nuances of the examples he's using. However whether you agree or disagree with him, there's plenty of food for thought here. The bottom line is, as an anthropologist, Pinker's a great biologist. If he grasped the culture better, this would be a five-star book.
52 von 59 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Because we're all relatives, it's not all relative 7. Oktober 2002
Von Royce E. Buehler - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In his latest, and by far his most ambitious, work, Steven Pinker speaks in a wide-ranging, lively but dispassionate voice of sweet reason. It may well make him a lot of enemies. He's touched on many of these same ideas before, but now he is spelling out the consequences - and the incompatibility of those consequences with the received wisdom of most of the last century.
His fundamental message is: Yes, Virginia, there is a human nature. People of all cultures are born with a host of inborn predispositions - to acquire language and music, to favor kin over strangers, to want sex and to be ashamed of it, to value even trades and to punish cheaters, and dozens more. Our common nature springs from our common biology; it is not very malleable, and it is not "socially constructed." Cultural diversity is marvelous, but it is all a variation on an immutable theme; and there have never been any human cultures free of war, of greed, or of prescribed gender roles. (Nor any free of conflict resolution techniques, altruism, and shared parenting.)
His secondary theme is that the differences between people, so much smaller than what we have in common, are also primarily biologically determined. A juggernaut of data has finally put the nature/nurture controversy to rest, at least from a scientific standpoint, and the final score is pretty much nature one, nurture zero. Fifty to seventy percent of the variation between individuals - in intelligence, in personality, in political leanings, or just about any other mental character you care to name - derives from the genes; zero to ten percent derives from the home environment; and the mysterious remainder is due to chance or to non-parental environment.
We have been conditioned in recent decades to think of both these contentions as shocking. They violate two precepts Pinker designates the "sacred doctrines in modern intellectual life." He calls them The Blank Slate (with a nod to Locke), and The Noble Savage (with a nod to Rousseau.) The first holds that ideas, likes, dislikes, and personalities are all the result of what Locke called "sense impressions", that is, they are all imprinted on us by our environments. The second is a little more modest, but forms the seductive core of the first, because we'd all like it to be true. It holds that all our unpleasant ideas, likes, dislikes, and neurotic tics are forced by a wicked society upon an infant slate which is, if not blank, devoid of all blemish.
Pinker spends the first hundred pages tracing the lineage of these sacred doctrines (and of a third, less carefully examined, which he calls The Ghost in the Machine - essentially, the doctrine that whatever biological nature we may have can be overriden by a soul or self with a free will independent of biology.) He explores what has made them attractive to all of us, but especially to the academic left, and the deep fears which have made it taboo, as E.O. Wilson found to his cost, to contradict them.
He then explains, carefully and (at least with respect to the first two) convincingly, why the fears in question are groundless - and why we should rather fear the ill effects of suppressing this new knowledge about human nature.
Finally, he takes up in a series of individual chapters several of the hot-button political and social issues that are affected by the existence of an objective human nature, and by the largely genetic basis of most human differences: the basis for the left/right divide in politics, the root causes of violence, what objective gender differences (and the biological influences bearing on rape) do and do not mean for public policy, the coming irrelevance of the child-rearing advice industry, and a rather curmudgeonly take on what he sees as the well-deserved unpopularity of avant-garde art.
The child-rearing chapter is particularly eye-opening, and the violence chapter offers some very fresh ideas, not so much on its origins, which are the same for us as for chimpanzees, but on the variables affecting its expression. Also notable is Pinker's calm, complete demolition, on strictly biological grounds, of the notion that an embryo is "ensouled" at the moment of conception. (Perhaps still more notable, and indicative of the book's even tenor for all its polemics, is his refusal to draw any pro-choice conclusion from that.)
It's a joy to see some of Pinker's more irrational targets, from die-hard Marxism to the rejection of science itself by "critical theory" to the bromide that rape isn't "about" sexual desire, skewered with such swift and classical neatness. The longer lasting pleasures will come from a leisurely unpacking and sifting of all his positive conjectures, conclusions, and insights. It's a book you can zip through in a couple of nights, or return to for thought-fodder for years.
80 von 93 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Human Nature Makes a Comeback 9. April 2003
Von Paul R. Thomas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The Blank Slate deserves all the praise it has received. Steven Pinker presents an extremely eloquent, well reasoned, comprehensive and entertaining renunciation of the holy trinity of social science - the blank slate, noble savage, and ghost in the machine; ideologies that have created serious obstacles to the application of modern scientific research in genetics, biology and psychology to a better understanding of who we really are.
The more widely this book is read, the sooner we can increase the effectiveness with which we understand and tackle real personal and social problems from a fact-based and positive perspective of human nature.
The book is academically very strong and the arguments are well presented and convincing, so much so that this book will doubtless receive future credit for putting the study of human nature back onto the social science agenda. Steven Pinker may surprise you, perhaps provoke you but he will definitely educate you, entertain you and leave you thinking about human nature in a very new way.
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