10/21/2004

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Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, (785) 864-7822

Harvard psychologist to lecture Oct. 28 on denial of human nature

LAWRENCE -- Cognitive psychologist and author Steven Pinker will deliver the second Humanities Lecture, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature," at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Lied Center of Kansas.

The event, part of the 2004-05 Humanities Lecture Series sponsored by the University of Kansas' Hall Center for the Humanities, is free and open to the public.

"A Conversation With Steven Pinker," an opportunity to explore Pinker's work, will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 29 at the Adams Alumni Center.

Pinker, a Johnstone Family Professor at Harvard University, will address modern society's unwillingness to see human behavior as nature rather than nurture. Pinker believes this unwillingness stems from a somewhat justified fear that innate patterns of thinking and feeling could be used to justify inequality, subvert social change, dissolve personal responsibility and strip life of meaning and purpose. Combining humor and scholarship, Pinker tries to show that equality, progress, responsibility and purpose have nothing to fear from science.

His lecture draws from his book "The Blank Slate," a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003. Pinker also wrote "Words and Rules: The Ingredients of the Language" and "How the Mind Works."

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. Upcoming speakers include poet Rita Dove and Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed. For more information, contact hallcenter@ku.edu or (785) 864-7822.

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