Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 277

There are a few different themes in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. Themes help readers focus on the subject of a piece.

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The most obvious themes in Pinker's text are human nature and predestination (all events are the will of God). Pinker opens his text by stating that "everyone has a theory of human nature." In the second paragraph, he goes on to say that "our theory of human nature is the wellspring of much in our lives." Through Pinker's focus upon human nature in the opening of the text, it is no wonder that human nature is one of the most prominent themes.

In regards to predestination, Pinker brings up ideas presented in the Bible regarding creation, men and women, and God's ruling over mankind. He discusses how the Bible cannot be believed by "a scientifically literate person." Given the Biblical roots which exist within society, both historically and presently, Pinker must discuss the idea of predestination (because it aligns with the idea of blank slate ideologies) in order to discuss the idea of human nature.

Another theme present in the text is the idea of nature versus nurture. Pinker argues that it is one's own mind which makes a person who they are. He argues that genetics and environment play parts, yet the parts for which each are responsible are not absolute.

One could also argue that history is an important theme. Pinker looks to philosophers and scientists alike to either prove his own point or disprove previous points made on human nature. By bringing history forward, Pinker places focus on the importance of looking to the past to explain the present and the future.

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