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Description de l’éditeur
'A passionate defence of the enduring power of human nature ... both life-affirming and deeply satisfying' Daily Telegraph
Recently many people have assumed that we are blank slates shaped by our environment. But this denies the heart of our being: human nature. Violence is not just a product of society; male and female minds are different; the genes we give our children shape them more than our parenting practices. To acknowledge our innate abilities, Pinker shows, is not to condone inequality, but to understand the very foundations of humanity.
'Brilliant ... enjoyable, informative, clear, humane' New Scientist
'If you think the nature-nurture debate has been resolved, you are wrong ... this book is required reading' Literary Review
'An original and vital contribution to science and also a rattling good read' Matt Ridley, Sunday Telegraph
'Startling ... This is a breath of air for a topic that has been politicized for too long' Economist
In his last outing, How the Mind Works, the author of the well-received The Language Instinct made a case for evolutionary psychology or the view that human beings have a hard-wired nature that evolved over time. This book returns to that still-controversial territory in order to shore it up in the public sphere. Drawing on decades of research in the "sciences of human nature," Pinker, a chaired professor of psychology at MIT, attacks the notion that an infant's mind is a blank slate, arguing instead that human beings have an inherited universal structure shaped by the demands made upon the species for survival, albeit with plenty of room for cultural and individual variation. For those who have been following the sciences in question including cognitive science, neuroscience, behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology much of the evidence will be familiar, yet Pinker's clear and witty presentation, complete with comic strips and allusions to writers from Woody Allen to Emily Dickinson, keeps the material fresh. What might amaze is the persistent, often vitriolic resistance to these findings Pinker presents and systematically takes apart, decrying the hold of the "blank slate" and other orthodoxies on intellectual life. He goes on to tour what science currently claims to know about human nature, including its cognitive, intuitive and emotional faculties, and shows what light this research can shed on such thorny topics as gender inequality, child-rearing and modern art. Pinker's synthesizing of many fields is impressive but uneven, especially when he ventures into moral philosophy and religion; examples like "Even Hitler thought he was carrying out the will of God" violate Pinker's own principle that one should not exploit Nazism "for rhetorical clout." For the most part, however, the book is persuasive and illuminating; extensive review coverage and a 10-city author tour should bring it into E.O. Wilson and Stephen Jay Gould territory in terms of sales.