First P. Z. Meyers responds:
Look, there’s some reasonable stuff deeper in, but that opening…could he possibly have been more arrogant, patronizing, and ahistorical? Not only is he appropriating philosophers into the fold of science, but worse, he’s placing them in his favored disciplines of cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and social psychology. Does the man ever step outside of his office building on the Harvard campus?
Descartes and Hume were not evolutionary psychologists. He’s doing great violence to the intellectual contributions of those men — and further, he’s turning evolutionary psychology into an amorphous and meaningless grab-bag which can swallow up every thought in the world. The latter, at least, is a common practice within evo psych, but please. Hume was a philosopher. He was not a psychologist, a biologist, or a chemist. He was not doing science, even though he thought a lot about science.
Meyers links to this tumblr blog which is even more outraged:
“I often long to travel back in time and offer them some bit of twenty-first-century freshman science that would fill a gap in their arguments or guide them around a stumbling block.”Did you follow that, folks? Stephen fucking Pinker, the great scientific genius, is going to go back in time to correct Spinoza’s arguments and “guide” him. The idea that these thinkers wrote “in the absence of formal theory” is so reductive and offensive. Descartes’ Discourse on Method, Spinoza’s Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione and his correspondences with Olderburg and others, Hume’s Treatise…these thinkers were conscious of formal method and self-reflexive about it in a way few scientists today are even remotely capable of. Incredibly, implausibly, each of these philosophers invented an inferential method, from the ground up, instead of taking for granted any assumption they were taught.
Predictably Jerry Coyne, who worships all the ev-psych New Atheists loves the article and actually admits to being Pinker's fanboy. Truly disgusting.
It's just a matter of time before it's general knowledge that Pinker pals around with racists like Razib Khan and Steve Sailer.