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Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003

blank stairs

"Pinker takes aim at three targets in his book. He calls them the Blank Slate (the notion that the mind has no inherent structure), the Noble Savage (the notion that man is born innocent and is corrupted by society), and the Ghost in the Machine (the notion that mind differs from matter). These correspond, at least loosely, to the philosophical traditions of empiricism, Romanticism, and dualism, respectively. Pinker considers all three traditions because he believes they are typically found together. While this seems doubtful (Marxists subscribe to the Blank Slate and the Noble Savage but reject the Ghost in the Machine, while Catholics do the opposite), it doesn't much matter. Pinker ends up attacking what he takes to be the errors of the Blank Slate almost exclusively and the other two targets mostly disappear. "