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Steven Pinker Quotes

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Steven Pinker
September 18, 1954 -
Nationality: Canadian
Category: Scientist
Subcategory: Canadian Scientist

But in most cases even the possibility that the correlations reflect shared genes is taboo.


Personality and socialization aren't the same thing.


My opinions about human nature are shared by many psychologists, linguists, and biologists, not to mention philosophers and scholars going back centuries.


People today sometimes get uncomfortable with empirical claims that seem to clash with their political assumptions, often because they haven't given much thought to the connections.


The great appeal of the doctrine that the mind is a blank slate is the simple mathematical fact that zero equals zero.


Art works because it appeals to certain faculties of the mind. Music depends on details of the auditory system, painting and sculpture on the visual system. Poetry and literature depend on language.


Why do people believe that there are dangerous implications of the idea that the mind is a product of the brain, that the brain is organized in part by the genome, and that the genome was shaped by natural selection?


Why are empirical questions about how the mind works so weighted down with political and moral and emotional baggage?


I don't consider myself to be that radical a thinker.


The connections I draw between human nature and political systems in my new book, for example, were prefigured in the debates during the Enlightenment and during the framing of the American Constitution.


But the newest research is showing that many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don't depend on information coming in from the senses.


Many artists and scholars have pointed out that ultimately art depends on human nature.


As many political writers have pointed out, commitment to political equality is not an empirical claim that people are clones.


Evolutionary psychology is one of four sciences that are bringing human nature back into the picture.


There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization.


Parents provide their children with genes as well as an environment, so the fact that talkative parents have kids with good language skills could simply mean that and that the same genes that make parents talkative make children articulate.


So no, it's not all in the genes, but what isn't in the genes isn't in the family environment either. It can't be explained in terms of the overall personalities or the child-rearing practices of parents.


I think this confusion leads intellectuals and artists themselves to believe that the elite arts and humanities are a kind of higher, exalted form of human endeavor.


Most intellectuals today have a phobia of any explanation of the mind that invokes genetics.


By exploring the political and moral colorings of discoveries about what makes us tick, we can have a more honest science and a less fearful intellectual milieu.


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