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Lecture 3

Week 3 - The Blank Slate

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York University
PSYC 4010
Scott Adler

Pinker – The Blank Slate Human Nature - Our perspective on human nature changes over time, and as a consequence, education/policies/politics change too - Thinking o How others think Is driven by how you think - Learning and education o Using more computer-based learning (learning to read - Policies on economics o Based on what motivates people to spend money - Law and crime o Your view of human nature affects how you view law/crime and what should be done o Environmental view: put him a new environment so he can be rehabilitated o Genetic view: can he be rehabilitated since it is part of his genetics/human nature so it will always be there? o What punishment should be like? - Political systems and philosophies o View individual as mindless beings that have to be controlled o Masses are not smart enough to take care of themselves (police state stage) Blank Slate - Human mind has no inherent structure - Can be inscribed at will by society or ourselves - Through experiences/environment, that the structure of the mind gets sorted out - Experiences o In terms of memory for that experience o Nobody’s memory is veridical (exact match to the actual event that they experienced) o Infantile Amnesia – cant remember things before age 3 o You incorporate the telling of the story into your memory as if you remember the event - Against innate theories and God o Church have persuades on how society is done o Royalties claimed they were innately disposed with authority by God - Against heredity and royalty - Against slavery - Differences in individuals’ thinking and opinions are due to differences in experiences - Therefore, individuals’ thoughts and opinions are neither right or wrong o They are just different because of the different experiences they had as they mature / develop - Therefore, all thought and opinions should be tolerated - Led to whole set of concepts that are socially constructed: gender roles and races o The way men and women behave is different because we give them difference experience, not because they are inherent o Races are different because they are geographically separated so they have separate experience Noble Savage - Selfless, peaceful, and stress-free - Age of exploration - Hardly any battles between tribes - Free of bad traits - A lot of communal aspects in their society: share food, raise kids together, work together to defend village - Inherently good - Development o If born noble and gentle, then childrearing is a matter of just an opportunity to develop o Education allows them to just grow (just like Montessori – child develops based on their skills/needs, no direct instruction, develop naturally at their own pace) o Evil is a product of society o If born evil, then childrearing is controlling that through discipline Ghost in the Machine - Sometimes called the mind/body problem - Argument against the mind being physical and part of the body o That it is mechanical o Body itself is a blank slate,
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