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Darwin on the mind

Until recently the mind was studied by people who believed that it was shaped by outside influences not innate structure-and who knew nothing about evolution. Now the Darwinians are taking over. Matt Ridley considers the rise of evolutionary psychology and Steven Pinker, its new champion

By Matt Ridley   February 1998

It is well known that to write a best-selling book about evolution it helps to be called Steven. When Professor Steven Pinker’s last book, The Language Instinct, was short-listed for the Rhone Poulenc prize for science books in 1995, it immediately became the favourite: the three previous winners were Professors Steven Rose, Stephen Jay Gould and Steve Jones.

In the event, Pinker did not win the prize; and some think the reason was that he is not a true Steven. The other three Stev(ph)ens respect a hallowed tradition: that evolution is about bodies, not minds. The human mind is studied…

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