Sunday, May 10, 2009

97 Burrhus Frederic Skinner

The most important feature of Skinner's behaviorism is, that he tried to explain human behavior without reference to inner psychological processes. In other words, to understand man you don't need to understand his mind or even consider its existence.

The roots of behaviorism are in the rejection of the dualism of Descartes, who held the view that we have a material body and a non-material mind. But with the rise of materialism and scientific methods and research at the end of the 19th century this dualism was questioned more and more.

The reasons were obvious. This dualism created unsolvable questions like, how can two such different entities, one material, the other immaterial, interact? Or, I can believe that I have a mind, but how can I prove that there exist other minds as was?

The behaviorists realized that you do not need this mental area at all to explain and understand human behavior and keep in mind: when we speak, talk ......that is behavior too. So when I say somehting philosophical I display behavior, which can be explained by function analysis.

To predict and influence behavior effectively, according to Skinner, it is important to understand the function of the behavior for which he developed a method of function analysis.

The method means that you look at the situation that preceded the behavior, the behavior itself and the consequences. The preceding situation and the consequences are called the context of the behavior. SImply stated: by manipulating this context , you can shape the behavior of the individual.

So if the behavior "works" it will be reinforced and in this idea you read the influence of American pragmatism (William James and Charles Peirce) and also the Darwinian evolutionary approach.

To go one step further: The hypothesis that man is NOT free, is essential for the application of scientific methods on the study of human behavior, according to Skinner.

The free innner man who is responsable for the behavior of the external biological organism is just a pre-scientific substitute for the kind of causes that is discovered by scientific research.

In his work "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" Skinner elaborates on the social implications of his radical behaviorism. Criminals and unadapted individuals are individuals, whose behavior differs from the preferences and generalisations of society.

By calling these people bad we only show that we are ignorant of the factors that caused this behavior. And Skinner points at the fact that when we know the causes and contexts, such people are all of a sudden less bad........difficult childhood....the wrong friends....neglecting parents....and so on

Skinner is in fact a beautiful example of how all influences of his area are combined and emerge as a special interpetation of the human being:

scientific method, verification, anti-metaphysical, materialistic, empirical and with a firm believe that science can make and shape the world just because of this modern approach.

And we are left behind with questions like, don't we need a mind? Is our conscious another word for learned behavior in given contexts?

The Discussion

[13:18] herman Bergson: So far on Skinner...
[13:19] herman Bergson: Anyone willing to show any behavior? ^_^
[13:19] arabella Ella: but Herman the implication is that we are therefore not responsible for our bad behaviour and where would that leave us ... an easy cop out?
[13:20] arabella Ella: (now you can analyse Ara from a Skinnerian perspective)
[13:20] herman Bergson: is a consequence of this behaviorism
[13:20] arabella Ella: stimulus ... Herman ... response ... ara
[13:20] herman Bergson: all behavior is learned behavior
[13:20] Qwark Allen: and can be modulated
[13:20] arabella Ella: the concept of responsibility has in fact been troubloing me for a while
[13:21] herman Bergson: but as with all theories....they aim to explain everything, but always explain only a part of it
[13:21] arabella Ella: all scientific and therefore deterministic accounts of humans do not seem to allow for responsibility
[13:21] herman Bergson: That is true
[13:22] herman Bergson: But his determinism is onlyy correct when all behavior is learned and not the result or influenced bty actions of the mind
[13:22] arabella Ella: in other words my reflections are on how a physical or scientific view of humanity can be reconciled with free will
[13:22] arabella Ella: since was it physical falls under the laws of nature which are determined
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes...I still have not found a place for the mind
[13:23] arabella Ella: somehow there must be more to it than just science ... or the physical ...
[13:23] herman Bergson: I tend to interpret the world as a materialst
[13:23] arabella Ella: yes
[13:23] arabella Ella: the question is ... which we cannot answer ... what more is there to humans besides the physical ... or do we have free will at all?
[13:24] herman Bergson: but what I have learnt sofar is that we are biting ourselves in our own tail contantly
[13:24] Qwark Allen: free will i think it`s a myth
[13:24] herman Bergson: explaining behavior is also behavior
[13:24] herman Bergson: that may be true Qwark
[13:25] herman Bergson: only thing is that we dont notice that
[13:25] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:25] Qwark Allen: most of us
[13:25] arabella Ella: yes i too sometimes wonder whether we believe in free will only because it is useful for us to do so
[13:25] arabella Ella: a sort of innate pragmatism
[13:25] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes
[13:25] Cailleach Shan: Herman, would you elaborate on your statement about "I still haven't found a place for the mind"
[13:25] Qwark Allen: to keep our minds focus at other things
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: the basic question fro me in god and bad behavior is wher is the root of the knowledge of 'right and wrong' and who is obligated to provide it
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well...materialism doesnt support the idea of a mind as a special entity
[13:26] arabella Ella: if it were to be accepted that free will is a myth then the whole system of humanity together with responsibility would go haywire
[13:27] herman Bergson: there is a restriction here Arabella....
[13:27] herman Bergson: for how important is free will actually...
[13:27] herman Bergson: we show behavior and it is effective or not....
[13:27] herman Bergson: and we could define good as effective
[13:28] Qwark Allen: I think there is where is the dualism
[13:28] herman Bergson: pragmatism, utilitarianism, behaviorism...they all tend in that direction
[13:28] arabella Ella: but herman isnt there effective behaviour which is bad ... concentration camps for example?
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes.....such behavior is a problem
[13:29] Cailleach Shan: Defining good as 'effective' is rather limited isn't it.... the guillotine was effective.
[13:29] Qwark Allen: effective, apropriated, ... depends on the observer that is judging it
[13:29] herman Bergson: but it is how you define the basic nature of man
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark....Skinner too saw all behavior within contexts....
[13:30] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:30] herman Bergson: behavior without a context is meaningless
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: how much does self-realized empathy play a part in the decision to behave one way or the other
[13:30] Qwark Allen: i think it`s like at communication
[13:30] Qwark Allen: there is not a thing as "no comunication"
[13:30] Qwark Allen: no comunication is also comunication
[13:30] herman Bergson: According to Skinner that would not play any role Aristotle
[13:31] herman Bergson: as thet isnt a "no behavior", a "no choice"
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: then according to Skinner, no one can be held responsible for his actions
[13:32] Cailleach Shan: That would lead to anarchy
[13:32] arabella Ella: exactly
[13:32] herman Bergson: It would seem to be a logical consequence of his theory
[13:32] Qwark Allen: actions are modulated at socilization learning
[13:32] herman Bergson: But to be sure about that you should read Beyond Freedom and Dignity
[13:32] Qwark Allen: behavior*
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: then the old saying 'the devil made me do it' is adequate defense
[13:32] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:33] herman Bergson: would not..
[13:33] herman Bergson: you have to come forward with empirical evidence for the devil first
[13:33] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:33] arabella Ella: interesting observation herman ...
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: well, my analogy is that it is always someone elses fault :)
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: Blame the cat...
[13:34] Qwark Allen: in a way i think it is
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: aint no devil LOL
[13:34] Qwark Allen: cause we learn it with someone
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: Does Skinner say anything about instincts?
[13:34] Qwark Allen: maybe, if you grow up at devils company
[13:34] herman Bergson: Instincts...? Dont know
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes to some extend
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: A newborn baby knows where to find food.
[13:35] herman Bergson: He sees man in line with all other vertebrates
[13:35] Qwark Allen: we know that some kind of deviations of genes, make inapropriate behaviors
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: behaviour is the instinctual control or the lack of it
[13:36] herman Bergson: in a way we are animal like,I guess
[13:36] herman Bergson: with the basic drives
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: we are exactly an animal with a device to control its urges
[13:36] herman Bergson: Skinner did a lot of research with rats and pigeons...
[13:37] herman Bergson: In his opinion was that only a pragmatic choice, because humans are too complex
[13:37] herman Bergson: and a lot of his findings he extrapolated and applied to humans
[13:37] Mickorod Renard: I wonder why we are so complex? by design?
[13:38] herman Bergson: We have the most complex nervous system Mickorod
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: Well, we do share 99% of our genes with monkeys
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: we are complex because only the strong have survived
[13:38] Mickorod Renard: but often scientists choose other animals,,like pigs to experiment on cos they are similar
[13:39] Qwark Allen: or cause the strong procriated
[13:39] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:39] Era Lucas: how about consciousness?
[13:39] Cailleach Shan: lol.... how do you define consciousness?
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Qwark , they wer the ones to survie to procreate
[13:39] Qwark Allen: :-))
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: but so are many other animals,,look at ants
[13:40] herman Bergson: maybe as selfawareness and awareness of time
[13:40] Era Lucas: do those experimentdiscover that rats, pigs, etc,. have the same conciousness as we do?
[13:40] arabella Ella: bees perhaps too
[13:40] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:40] Qwark Allen: and they have dreams to
[13:40] Khayyam Kurosawa: the same?
[13:40] Qwark Allen: animals
[13:40] Qwark Allen: at their way
[13:40] Era Lucas: do they have logic?
[13:41] Qwark Allen: off course
[13:41] herman Bergson: no.....Skinner wouldnt even be interested in a thing like consciousness
[13:41] Qwark Allen: their logic
[13:41] Mickorod Renard: there are many animals that are good at survival that we do not attribute inteligence to in the same way as ourselves
[13:41] herman Bergson: he only looks at behavior and how it can be manipulated by manipulating the parameters of the context
[13:41] Khayyam Kurosawa: so its is all reative allen:? we are just another different as a fly from a mouse?
[13:41] Qwark Allen: that only reveals oue ignorance about that theme
[13:42] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:42] Khayyam Kurosawa: thats silly
[13:42] Khayyam Kurosawa: only a human would say that about animal
[13:42] arabella Ella: didnt he speak about stimulus and response, herman, like pavlov's pigeons and the salivating dogs?
[13:42] Mickorod Renard: there was a reasoning that humans are special and the universe is here cos we imagine it to be
[13:42] arabella Ella: or rats learning to naviagate in a maze?
[13:42] Khayyam Kurosawa: we are the only animal speaking about other animals..that makes us very very diffreent
[13:42] Qwark Allen: we are have the same kind of response
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes he did
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: we are an animal with the advantage of cerbral evolution
[13:43] Khayyam Kurosawa: and thats not nothing
[13:43] Khayyam Kurosawa: that makes us completly distincit
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes we are a different kind of animals, Khayyan
[13:43] Qwark Allen: we still mamales
[13:43] Khayyam Kurosawa: thats true too
[13:43] herman Bergson: as you say it makes us distinct but that isnt so spectacular
[13:44] Khayyam Kurosawa: but i think its silly to compare us too much
[13:44] Mickorod Renard: if anything,,on this line of thought we wud have to be a freak mutation i think
[13:44] Khayyam Kurosawa: thats denying how exceptional we are
[13:44] Qwark Allen: it`s silly not to
[13:44] Khayyam Kurosawa: in a way because there are also many similarties yes
[13:44] Khayyam Kurosawa: bioilogical etc
[13:44] arabella Ella: for skinner everything boils down to cause and effect or stimulus and response in his words
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: in most physical aspects we are inferior to other species
[13:45] herman Bergson: the only difference I see is the fact that we have a mind, are self reflective
[13:45] arabella Ella: we have no free will for skinner, no creativity, nothing except ... conditioning
[13:45] Qwark Allen: true ari
[13:45] Mickorod Renard: if we were designed we would be designed to function in the environment we live,,thus like other animals
[13:45] arabella Ella: but herman here you say we have a mind ... yet you are a materialist?
[13:45] herman Bergson smiles
[13:45] Khayyam Kurosawa: i apologise..i missed the beginning of this converstaion so i dont know where you at...but i just cant accept eople giving all kind of human traits to other animal does that...
[13:46] Qwark Allen: and if you think , you`ll see that our best technologie have roots in other animals
[13:46] Khayyam Kurosawa: but i will limit my tone as i missed the beginning ...
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: maybe other animals do converse
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: Dr Doolittle?
[13:46] Khayyam Kurosawa: they communicate
[13:46] Khayyam Kurosawa: not conversese
[13:47] Qwark Allen: that we don`t know for sure
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well...Skinner put emphasis on behavior....and that we are behavior in the first place
[13:47] arabella Ella: operant conditioning yes herman?
[13:47] herman Bergson: caused behavior and in that sense no different from other organisms
[13:47] arabella Ella: everything we do is conditioned from birth for skinner
[13:47] Qwark Allen: one intersting thing, it`s that we don`t have the superior kind of comunication system
[13:47] herman Bergson: in a strict sense it seems so, yes
[13:48] Qwark Allen: there are whales with superior capabilities of comunication
[13:48] Khayyam Kurosawa: listen...of the most intelligent animals..can see itself in the mirror...tahts only one out of millions....
[13:48] Mickorod Renard: maybe I am being silly,,but i wouldnt say they all didnt converse
[13:48] Khayyam Kurosawa: the elephant
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: I think allthat conditioning from the gathering of empirical date is what we rely on to make behavioral deicisions
[13:48] Khayyam Kurosawa: no animals converses
[13:48] oola Neruda: excellent points Khayyam
[13:49] Qwark Allen: whales use a more sofisticated system
[13:49] herman Bergson: there is some evidence of selfawareness in some animals indeed
[13:49] Era Lucas: birds do
[13:49] Khayyam Kurosawa: yes very very limitied
[13:49] Qwark Allen: related to whales only the rino
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: the us military are actually doing telepathy ,,so soldiers can communicate between each other
[13:49] Khayyam Kurosawa: but not like...' i,m in pain..thats scary..i might die...." much more basic
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: who says animals dont
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: but are animals able to circumvent the natural instincts?
[13:50] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:50] Qwark Allen: and act according with learned behaviors
[13:50] Era Lucas: but they do not have philosophical logic
[13:50] Qwark Allen: you must see the african elephants with stress pos trauamtic disorder
[13:50] Khayyam Kurosawa: i think the time of giving animals almost human charachteristics was about 15 years ago..with the lady who did all the gorilla reasearch
[13:51] Mickorod Renard: I have never sat an animal down and councilled it,,but who knows
[13:51] herman Bergson: no Era, all we observe is their behavior which sometimes shows a resemblance with human behavior
[13:51] Qwark Allen: that is not human caractistics
[13:51] Khayyam Kurosawa: since then it was blasted and now we know that we are apart and that actually animals can hardly do antying expect eat and drink...and protect their kind
[13:51] Qwark Allen: it`s mamale ones
[13:51] Khayyam Kurosawa: not to dengirate them...l love animals
[13:51] Mickorod Renard: not all is what is observed
[13:51] Qwark Allen: you are wrong
[13:51] oola Neruda: what about ants and bees
[13:51] Khayyam Kurosawa: well thats basic stuff...machine-like
[13:52] arabella Ella: yes Khayyam she discovered animals could learn some language but only like a child of about 2 years ... never any more ... and she dealt with intelligent chimps
[13:52] Khayyam Kurosawa: they have their patterns yes..but no bee chooses to not work on the nest for a day cause they want something better to do
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: you can teach bears to dance but they will still eat you if the stimulus is right
[13:52] Qwark Allen: that was the monkie
[13:52] Khayyam Kurosawa: yeah and her research was false too...goodwill or something
[13:52] Khayyam Kurosawa: goodman
[13:52] Cailleach Shan: I had to answer the phone..... are we still talking about Skinner?
[13:53] arabella Ella: yes khayyam ... jane i think ...
[13:53] Khayyam Kurosawa: no about animals....not human shan lol
[13:53] herman Bergson: Well..I think we can add a theme to our list....
[13:53] Khayyam Kurosawa: yes jane....
[13:53] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:53] herman Bergson: determinism in relation to behaviorism
[13:53] Khayyam Kurosawa: ah that explains..she lived with tarzan her whole life..another animal
[13:53] Mickorod Renard: we are so inteligent that we communicate with ants all the time
[13:53] Khayyam Kurosawa: lol renard
[13:53] Mickorod Renard: if thats the measure
[13:54] herman Bergson: I think that all is said about Skinner
[13:54] Mickorod Renard: its funny that they are determined on the basis that they dont speak english or spanish
[13:54] herman Bergson: It may be interesting for further study to look into his ideas on ethics
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: That sound interesting..
[13:55] herman Bergson: I dont know if he was an absolute determinist...
[13:55] herman Bergson: and if he wasnt...then there must be more than only behavior
[13:55] arabella Ella: well herman it would be interesting to reflect on whether we were all determined to say what we just said in chat ... as per skinner
[13:56] herman Bergson: So, I thank you for your participation and leave you this assignment...^_^
[13:56] Qwark Allen: try to read about "morphic resonance"
[13:57] herman Bergson: what is morphic resonance, Qwark?
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: as far as responsibillty for our behavioral decisions, animals are not but humans are....because of the cerebral difference....Skineer reduces us to animals
[13:57] arabella Ella: what is it qwark?
[13:57] Qwark Allen: a form of communication
[13:57] Qwark Allen: between species
[13:58] Cailleach Shan: Have to go.... thanks Herman.. Bye all.
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Cail
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Qwark..
[13:58] Qwark Allen: cya later
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ty herman
[13:58] Qwark Allen: allways nice subjects
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: Morphic resonance is a term coined by Rupert Sheldrake in his 1981 book A New Science of Life. He uses the expression to refer to what he thinks is "the basis of memory in nature....the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species."
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Q-man
[13:58] Qwark Allen: cya ari, oola, era, mick, ara
[13:58] herman Bergson: Next one will be 'hot'....Thomas Kuhn
[13:59] Qwark Allen: ah
[13:59] Qwark Allen: nice
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: wow,,,whos he?
[13:59] arabella Ella: bye qwark
[13:59] herman Bergson: He is a philosopher of science
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: bye quark
[13:59] arabella Ella: great herman ... very interesting
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: yes,,thank you Herman
[14:00] herman Bergson: And I am collecting a few subjects which need further study.....relativism, skepticism, solipsisme....^_^
[14:00] herman Bergson: all on my private list
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: how about solopism?
[14:01] herman Bergson: is the epistemological mousetrap we are in...:-)
[14:01] arabella Ella: could you add metaphysics to your list herman ...
[14:01] arabella Ella smiles
[14:01] herman Bergson: no....
[14:01] Mickorod Renard: I was thinkin of the french
[14:02] herman Bergson: no metaphysics for me....
[14:02] arabella Ella: i knew you were determined to give thaty reply herman ...
[14:02] arabella Ella: see how skinner is right ...
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: and a good reply
[14:02] herman Bergson: Now you see how you have conditioned me, Arabella
[14:02] arabella Ella: i was just empirically testing skinner's ideas
[14:02] arabella Ella: LOL

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-10-21 07:00:49

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