The death of Behaviourism Essay

This essay has a total of 4192 words and 19 pages.

The death of Behaviourism

Is Behaviorism DEAD?

Some lovely Obituaries of the leading players in the Psychology of behaviorism.

Chris Mullally

Aristotle, 384 BC – 322 BC, dead. “Man is by nature, a political
animal.” Of the two great philosophers of Greece, Plato and Aristotle, the latter
was the one who relied on observation. In Raphael's The School of Athens the two great
philosophers in the center of the painting, surrounded by the other great Greeks, with
Plato holding his hand upright as if to indicate, "Look to the perfecti on of the heavens
for truth," while Aristotle holds his arm straight out, implying "look around you at what
is if you would know the truth." Aristotle was born in Stagira (in northern Greece), 384
BC He died in Chalcis (on the Aegean island of Euboea, now Ewoia), 322 B.C. Inland from
Stagira was the semi-Greek kingdom of Macedon, with which Aristotle's family was closely
connected. Aristotle's father, for instance, had been court physician to the Macedonian
king Amyntas II. Aristotle lost both parents while a child and was brought up by a friend
of the family. He is supposed to have spoken with a lisp and to have been something of a
dandy. Aristotle is known for his, “open your eyes and look” philosophy. He
was absolute, relying on lectures, as opposed to leading others to discover their own
truths. He established a 200-year Lyceum and is known as the founder of Empiricism.
Aristotle also contrived the three Laws of Association; Similarity/Contrast, Contiguity,
and Frequency. Further, he believed that everything holds four causes, which are; the
Material Cause- what an object is made of, the Formal Cause- the form of an object, the
Efficient Cause- the force that transforms the matter, and the Final Cause- the purpose
for which an object exists. He goes on to classify the type of soul an object may posses
in the Scala Nature. Plants posses a Vegetative Soul, while animals posses a Sensitive
Soul and finally, people posses a Rational soul. For Aristotle, psychology was a study of
the soul. Insisting that form (the essence, or unchanging characteristic element in an
object) and matter (the common undifferentiated substratum of things) always exist
together, Aristotle defined a soul as a "kind of functioning of a body organized so that
it can support vital functions." In considering the soul as essentially associated with
the body, he challenged the Pythagorean doctrine that the soul is a spiritual entity
imprisoned in the body. Aristotle's doctrine is a synthesis of the earlier notion that the
soul does not exist apart from the body and of the Platonic notion of a soul as a
separate, nonphysical entity. Whether any part of the human soul is immortal, and, if so,
whether its immortality is personal, are not entirely clear in his treatise On the Soul.
The influence of Aristotle's philosophy has been pervasive; it has even helped to shape
modern language and common sense. His doctrine of the Prime Mover as final cause played an
important role in theology. Until the 20th century, logic meant Aristotle's logic. Until
the Renaissance, and even later, astronomers and poets alike admired his concept of the
universe. Zoology rested on Aristotle's work until British scientist Charles Darwin
modified the doctrine of the changelessness of species in the 19th century. In the 20th
century a new appreciation has developed of Aristotle's method and its relevance to
education, literary criticism, the analysis of human action, and political analysis.

Epicurus, 341 BC- 270 BC, expired. Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based chiefly on
the teachings of Epicurus. The essential doctrine of Epicureanism is that pleasure is the
supreme good and main goal of life. Intellectual pleasures are preferred to sensual ones,
which tend to disturb peace of mind. True happiness, Epicurus taught, is the serenity
resulting from the conquest of fear of the gods, of death, and of the afterlife. The
ultimate aim of all Epicurean speculation about nature is to rid people of such fears.

Epicurean physics is atomistic, in the tradition of the Greek philosophers Leucippus and
Democritus. Epicurus regarded the universe as infinite and eternal and as consisting only
of bodies and space. Of the bodies, some are compound and some are atoms, or indivisible,
stable elements of which the compounds are formed.

Epicurean psychology is materialistic. It holds that a continuous stream of films or
“idols” cast off by bodies and impinging on the senses causes sensations. All
sensations are believed to be absolutely reliable; error arises only when sensation is
improperly interpreted. The soul is regarded as being composed of fine particles
distributed throughout the body. The dissolution of the body in death, Epicurus taught,
leads to the dissolution of the soul, which cannot exist apart from the body; and thus no
afterlife is possible. Since death means total extinction, it has no meaning either to he
living or to the dead, for "when we are, death is not; and when death is, we are not."

Francis (Roger) Bacon, 1561-1626, extinct. Found dead in a freezer amidst a flock of
chickens testing his theory on refrigeration. The quote “Knowledge is
power.”, is accredited to this man. Born in Ilchester, Somersetshire, Bacon was
educated at the universities of Oxford and Paris. He remained in Paris after completing
his studies and taught for a time at the University of Paris. Soon after his return to
England in about 1251, he entered the religious order of the Franciscans and settled at
Oxford. He carried on active studies and did experimental research, mainly in alchemy,
optics, and astronomy. Bacon was a radical empiricist, interested only in the facts of
observation. Further, Bacon created the Four Idols, or four sources of error. The first is
the Idol of the Cave, which is personal bias. The second is named the Idol of the Tribe,
which is cultural bias. The third, Idol of the Marketplace, the error is semantics.
Finally, the Idol of the Theatre, with the error being allegiance to dogma. Bacon wrote to
Pope Clement IV in 1266, writing what looks remarkably similar to a grant proposal that a
mathematician or scientist might make today. His proposal was for an encyclopaedia of all
the sciences worked on by a team of collaborators, coordinated by a body in the Church.

Pope Clement IV, however, not being accustomed to receive proposals of this nature,
misunderstood what Bacon was proposing, believing rather that Bacon's proposed
encyclopaedia of science already existed. He asked to see it and Bacon, who could not
disobey the Pope, rapidly composed the Opus maius (Great Work), the Opus minus (Smaller
Work) and the Opus tertium (Third Work).

This remarkable achievement was carried out in secret since Bacon's superiors were
violently opposed to what he was doing. Bacon was aiming to show the Pope that sciences
had a rightful role in the university curriculum. He wrote down in Opus maius an
astounding collection of ideas, for example he gives a proposal for a telescope:-

For we can so shape transparent bodies, and arrange them in such a way with respect to our
sight and objects of vision, that the rays will be reflected and bent in any direction we
desire, and under any angle we wish, we may see the object near or at a distance ... So we
might also cause the Sun, Moon and stars in appearance to descend here below...

In 1268 Pope Clement IV died and Bacon's chances of seeing his great project come to
fruition vanished. About this time however Bacon embarked on another great project
himself, starting to write the Communia naturalium (General Principles of Natural
Philosophy) and the Communia mathematica (General Principles of Mathematical Science).
Only parts were ever published, probably most was never written, but again there were some
remarkable insights on astronomy and calendar reform, which Bacon had formed after making
observations. It was reported that Bacon

... did sometimes use in the night season to ascend this place (his study on Folly Bridge,
on an eyot midstream in the Thames) invironed with waters and there to take the altitude
and distance of stars and make use of it for his own convenience...

Bacon believed that the Earth was a sphere and that one could sail round it. He estimated
the distance to the stars coming up with the answer 130 million miles.

Around 1278 Bacon was put in prison by his fellow Franciscans, the charge being of
suspected novelties in his teaching. Clearly from his writings Bacon did not meekly
refrain from putting forward his views after this. They were as aggressively stated in his
last writings of 1293 as at any time in his life.

William of Occam, 1285-1349, deceased. “It is vain to do more with what can be done
for less.” (No photo available) Ockham was born in Surrey, England. He entered the
Franciscan order and studied and taught at the University of Oxford from 1309 to 1319.
Denounced by Pope John XXII for dangerous teachings, he was held in house detention for
four years (1324-1328) at the papal palace in Avignon, France, while the orthodoxy of his
writings was examined. Siding with the Franciscan general against the pope in a dispute
over Franciscan poverty, Ockham fled to Munich in 1328 to seek the protection of Louis IV,
Holy Roman emperor, who had rejected papal authority over political matters.
Excommunicated by the pope, Ockham wrote against the papacy and defended the emperor until
the latter's death in 1347. William of Occam is most famously known for his concept of
adhering to the simplest hypothesis, known as Occam’s razor.

Auguste Comte, 1798-1857, departed. A French positivist who was the founder of sociology.
Comte argued that an empirical study of historical processes, particularly of the progress
of the various interrelated sciences, reveals a law of three stages that govern human
development. He analyzed these stages in his major work, the six-volume Course of Positive
Philosophy (1830-42; trans. 1853). Because of the nature of the human mind, each science
or branch of knowledge passes through "three different theoretical states: the theological
or fictitious state; the metaphysical or abstract state; and, lastly, the scientific or
positive state." At the theological stage, events are immaturely explained by appealing to
the will of the gods or of God. At the metaphysical stage phenomena are explained by
appealing to abstract philosophical categories. The final evolutionary stage, the
scientific, involves relinquishing any quest for absolute explanations of causes.
Attention is focused altogether on how phenomena are related, with the aim of arriving at
generalizations subject to observational verification.

Comte's work is considered the classical expression of the positivist
attitude—namely, that the empirical sciences are the only adequate source of
knowledge. Although he rejected belief in a transcendent being, Comte recognized the value
of religion in contributing to social stability. In his four-volume System of Positive
Policy (1851-54; trans. 1875-77), he proposed his religion of humanity, aimed at
encouraging socially beneficial behavior. Comte's chief significance, however, derives
from his role in the historical development of positivism.

British Empiricism (again, no photo available and I don’t think this one is
dead….yet) refers to the 18th century philosophical movement in Great Britain which
maintained that all knowledge comes from experience. 18th century British Empiricists took
their cue from Francis Bacon who, in the very first aphorism of his New Organon, hails the
primacy of experience, particularly the observation of nature:

Humans, who are the servants and interpreters of nature, can act and understand no further
than they have observed in either the operation or the contemplation of the method and
order of nature.

Although British Empiricists disavowed innate ideas, in favor of ideas from experience, it
is important to note that the Empiricists did not reject the notion of instinct or
innateness in general. Indeed, we have inborn propensities which regulate our bodily
functions, produce emotions, and even direct our thinking. What Empiricists deny, though,
is that we are born with detailed, picture-like, concepts of God, causality, and even
mathematics. British Empiricists also moved away from deductive proofs and used an
inductive method of arguing which was more conducive to the data of experience. In spite
of their advocacy of inductive argumentation, though, British Empiricists still made wide
use of deductive arguments.

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