In the past century many people have assumed that we are shaped by our environment : a blank slate waiting to be inscribed by upbringing and culture, with innate abilities playing little part. Steven Pinker's profound and essential book shows that this view denies the heart of our being : human nature. We are prepared for sex, aggression and jealousy - and also love, compassion and reason. Violence is not just a product of society ; mate and female minds are different ; the genes we give our children shape them more than our parenting practices. To acknowledge our nature, Pinker shows, is not to condone inequality or callousness, but ultimately to understand the very foundations of humanity.