Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Steven Pinker: I believe there is such a thing as human nature–that the mind is not a blank slate, and that we don’t get all our emotions and drives from culture, parents, and socialization. But the very idea of human nature raises a fear in many people: if we’re “killer apes” with “genes for aggression” and a “violent brain,” would that mean that we are doomed to perpetual war and mayhem, and shouldn’t even bother trying to make the world a better place? But I knew that this fear made no sense for two reasons. One is that human nature is a complex system with many parts: some of them lead us to commit violence; others–what Lincoln called “The better angels of our nature”–inhibit us from violence. Whether violence actually breaks out depends on which features of human nature are triggered by the environment.
Read the whole story: CBS News
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