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.In his autobiography Skinner has given us a full account of the origins of his behaviorism, and his biographer, the historian Robert 126 | The Behaviorist as PhilosopherBjork, has added little to it.Unlike his neobehaviorist peers, Skinnerhad no undergraduate training in psychology (his bachelor s degree,from Hamilton College, New York, was in English).Following hisgraduation from Hamilton, Skinner spent what he called a  DarkYear (mostly at his parents home in Scranton) in which he unsuccessfully tried to establish himself as a writer of fiction.2 He first be-came interested in behaviorism when, in August 1926, he readBertrand Russell s review of C.K.Ogden and I.A.Richard s book TheMeaning of Meaning in a small (but fairly influential) intellectualmagazine called The Dial.Russell mentioned Watson, so Skinner readBehaviorism and The Ways of Behaviorism.His commitment to behaviorism was heightened after he read Russell s Philosophy when itwas published in America in 1927.3 Later in 1927 Skinner wrote a re-view of Louis Berman s book The Religion Called Behaviorism.4 Hesubmitted his review to the Saturday Review of Literature, but it wasnot published.But Skinner also claimed that along with this shift in mode of expression went a change of substance, a switch from humanism to science.For example, in his autobiography he claims that his behavior-ism began with the realization that the Law of Effect could explainhow one learns to pack a suitcase.5 Since Skinner was relying on hisrecollection when he wrote that passage, one could accuse him of gilding the lily.Placed in the context of his intellectual development, how-ever, it has the ring of truth.Skinner s behaviorism was very much hisown, both in its inspiration and in its development, and that idiosyncracy informed Skinner s words.What I find striking, however, is theunacknowledged deductive element in Skinner s thought.Nobodylearns to pack a suitcase the way Skinner described; we watch othersdo it and then we get help when we begin for ourselves.Our ownmode of packing is a late, not an early, development.Skinner, how-ever, had to make a place in his thinking for the Law of Effect.Theonly way to do that was to violate commonsense observation.Skinner finally made up his mind to study psychology as a result ofreading an article on Bernard Shaw and Ivan Pavlov by H.G.Wells inthe New York Times Sunday Magazine on November 13, 1927, thetitle of which was, in part,  To Whom Does the Future Belong: TheMan of Science or the Expressive Man? Wells asked whose life onewould save if forced to choose, and opted for Pavlov the scientistrather than Shaw the humanist without any hesitation.Skinner The Behaviorist as Philosopher | 127treated his own literary aspirations with similar ruthlessness.Hestarted reading Conditioned Reflexes in April 1928 and enrolled inHarvard s graduate school in September of that year.Skinner has given very full and, on the whole, accurate accounts ofhis graduate school career and of the way his unique version of behaviorism came into being.6 All he knew about behaviorism (or, in-deed, about psychology) on his arrival at Harvard was based on whathe had learned about Loeb at Hamilton and his reading of two ofWatson s books and of Pavlov s Conditioned Reflexes.Once at Harvard, he took a laboratory class, based on Titchener s text, from Car-roll Pratt, a weekly seminar from Walter Hunter on animal behavior,and classes in experimental psychology, the theory of psychology, thehistory of psychology, perception, and the analysis of conduct (the lastbeing a class in physiology offered by W.J.Crozier).On the whole hefound the classes in psychology boring and did poorly in most ofthem.Of all Skinner s graduate courses, Crozier s Analysis of Conducthad the greatest influence on him.Crozier was powerfully influencedby the biological mechanist Jacques Loeb, who, as Skinner wrote,  resented the nervous system. In his discussion of Crozier s influence onhis thought, Skinner clearly showed his perfect grasp of the essence ofbehaviorism the equation of theory with method.At the same timewe see how, for the behaviorist, the banishing of mind entailed thebanishing of the nervous system.Finally, we see the enterprise thatWatson began brought to its highest level of development.Whenstudying animal behavior, one ignored altogether the adaptive functions of the behaviors in question and expunged from one s mind anyquestion about causal influences working from within the animal [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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