Quotes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 458

Note: Any time one asks for important quotes from a text, the chosen quotes tend to be those the reader (himself or herself) finds important and symbolic.

There are many important quotes in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature . The book opens with the...

(The entire section contains 458 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Note: Any time one asks for important quotes from a text, the chosen quotes tend to be those the reader (himself or herself) finds important and symbolic.

There are many important quotes in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. The book opens with the following quote:

Everyone has a theory of human nature.

This quote is important because it illustrates that Pinker is realistic regarding the different ideologies of human nature. This helps readers in two ways. First, Pinker gives readers the right to disagree with his perspective. Second, Pinker illustrates how complex and dynamic the theory of human nature is. Both of these points are important because they allow the reader some "room" to move through the text and the ideas presented.

The actual writings of philosophers are always more complex than the theories they come to symbolize in the textbooks.

This quote is important because it, once again, offers some relief to readers. Pinker readily admits that many of the philosophers who have tackled complex topics, like human nature, do so with complicated language. Pinker goes on to state that the symbolism of the theory tends to become more important. This quote, therefore, again calms the reader. For some readers, a difficult text may dissuade them from actually finishing a text. The challenge of the reading itself proves to be so difficult that the reader gives up. This quote, then, tends to make readers feel more comfortable with challenging texts.

Today no respectable public figure in the United States, Britain, or Western Europe can casually insult women or sling around invidious stereotypes of other races or ethnic groups.

Pinker wrote the text in 2002. This quote's importance lies in the fact that it is no longer true today, if it was actually true even then. Today, the world is riddled with public insults, sexist statements, and rampant racism. This quote's importance, then, lies in how, only seventeen years later, the world is not what Pinker declares it to be.

To appreciate what goes on in our minds when we effortlessly learn from other people, we have to imagine what it would be like to have some other kind of mind.

This quote offers a different point of view about understanding others, one which differs from the common idiom "walk a mile in someone else's shoes." Here, instead of doing something someone else does to understand them, Pinker asks readers to think differently—to imagine having a different mind. This idea proves to be more enlightening. It is far easier to do something someone else has done than to think like another person. Therefore, the importance of this quote lies in the idea of changing how one thinks about others' lives and cultures.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Blank Slate Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Analysis