Steven Pinker

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Steven Pinker is a Canadian linguist, psychologist, notable atheist, and author of both academic and popular books on these subjects. He is currently a Johnstone Family Professor of psychology at Harvard University. He is known for his advocacy for evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

His book The Language Instinct popularized Noam Chomsky's theory that language is an innate faculty of mind, and to that he added that this faculty was evolved by natural selection to improve human abilities to communicate[1][2]. The Blank Slate is a polemic against human exceptionalism, arguing against the "blank slate" hypothesis that the entire human personality is acquired through socialization and environmental conditioning, the "noble savage" belief that all human capacity for vice, violence, and crime is similarly learned from a morally corrupt environment, and that there is a "ghost in the machine", a mind or soul that is separate from the brain. His most recent book The Better Angels Of Our Nature argues that violence has decreased as humans have adopted more complex social organizations, improved communications, and built networks of trade, and that the perception that we live in an unusually violent time rather than a remarkably peaceful one is an example of confirmation bias (shit happens, we’re just noticing it more with so much media coverage).

Pinker received the 2013 Richard Dawkins Award from the Atheist Alliance of America, with Dawkins calling him a "personal hero".[3]

[edit] Bibliography

Some of his books:

[edit] Further Reading

  • Vyvyan Evans (2014). The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Michael Tomasello (1995). Language is Not an Instinct, review of The Language Instinct in Cognitive Development 10, pages 131-156. Elsevier. 

[edit] References

  1. For an opposite view, see Evans' book.
  2. A short critique of The Language Instinct is found in Tomasello.
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