STEVEN PINKER QUOTES

“Language is a window into human nature, and the more diverse the languages, the more varied and revealing are the views of the world they encode.”

“Problems are solvable. That’s one of the things I hope to teach people. There are a lot of benighted corners of the world, but human brains are pretty clever machines. With the right inputs, our brains can be remarkably good problem-solving devices.”

“Just as we have the power to be born, we have the power to die—and we should also be able to have some control over how we die.”

“We must be solidly based in knowledge if we are to think creatively.”

“Humanistic values are not best held as articles of faith or dogmas but as tested principles of inquiry and action.”

“I refuse to believe that good ideas and useful knowledge must be couched in a jargon that is inaccessible to most people.”

“Progress is a result of human agency, of the choices that we make individually and collectively. And the outlook for human agency, for reason, and for progress is actually quite promising.”

“Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.”

“No one ever said that thinking clearly and carefully about an issue is a way of avoiding disagreement. In fact, disagreement is exactly what an active intellectual life generates.”

“Sometimes it seems as if our disagreements over everything – from politics to business to lifestyle – are more serious and more polarised than ever before. People are often close-minded, rejecting the facts that contradict their ideas. Citizens are frequently misinformed, supporting politicians and policies that will harm them. Voters are seldom rational, following their instincts when making decisions about their own lives and the future of their countries.”

“The human mind is not a passive receptacle for stimuli, not even an active engine for the computation and evaluation of information, but a system of cognitive faculties that transform information in certain characteristic ways.”

“The faculty of language is probably the most important thing about the human mind, apart from everything we have learned from studying language itself.”

“Our mission as scholars and educators is not to tell people what they want to hear or to pound conclusions into them by repetition, but to encourage them to think hard about thinking.”

“Knowledge is central to everything we value as a civilization: our scientific discoveries, our democracy, our justice system, our digital networks, our values of truth, curiosity, open debate, and so on.”

“Morality is not just a set of arbitrary rules or taboos, but a way of thinking and valuing that arises from our evolutionary history and societal development.”

“The human mind is well equipped to deal with the information it encounters, even though it has limitations and biases that interfere with its accuracy and reliability.”

“Intellectual progress – including moral development – is rare and localized.”

“The natural order is one without morals – one in which offspring are not naturally equipped to recognize that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and to subordinate their own interests for the sake of that something.”

“Logic, mathematics, and science are cumulative. They build on themselves, they progress.”

“Critical thinking is the key to solving intellectual problems, to making accurate observations, and to avoiding the mistakes and distortions of our intuitive judgments.”

“The human intellect is not a slavish servant of our base needs; the passions can be mastered, and rationality can prevail.”

“Science and the scientific method make our lives better.”

“It is hard to think of anything more conducive to happiness and mental health than an active social life.”

“As citizens of the world, we have a set of shared interests, and nations are far from the only entities that can represent them.”

“People are not vessels of race, but individuals with the capacity to form their own identity and pursue their own goals.”

“Human nature is a composite, not a simple essence.”

“There is no fundamental conflict between scientific knowledge and religious belief.”

“The desire for a more equal society is being driven by our greater affluence and education.”

“Inequality is not a fundamental property of the universe or something that individuals or societies are powerless to change.”

“Reasoning often leads to change before institutions do.”