Latest Issue

Human conditions

John Gray is a tragic fatalist. Steven Pinker believes in a progressive science of humanity. Are either of them right?

By Kenan Malik   October 2002

Where once the idea of human nature was treated with suspicion, today there is barely a human activity for which someone does not have an evolutionary account. A key figure in bringing about this change has been the psychologist Steven Pinker. Books such as The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works have established Pinker’s reputation both as one of the finest science writers of his generation and as a swashbuckling champion of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker, however, remains unconvinced that there has been such an intellectual transformation. Human nature, he insists, remains “a modern…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect