I've recently finished reading some commentaries on John Locke and David Hume. Locke promoted and perhaps introduced that the human mind is a bland slate (tabula rasa
) upon which experience and introspection are the sole inscriptors. Hume, critiquing this doctrine, argued that experience alone constitute the entirety of all human knowledge. For both of these philosophers, the tabula rasa
predicated their thinking and as such determined the course and nature of their conclusions. Locke ended in an empirically known, but rationally knowable reality, while Hume, pressing Locke's arguments to their natural conclusions found himself in total skepticism. For Hume, cause and effect exist only in the natural inclination of our minds to associate 'conjoined' events.
All this to say that, while I have not yet obtained the book, I am anticipating Pinker's response to this doctrine in its many forms and wonder what worldview can be erected upon the rubble of the tabula rasa