This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

B.F. Skinner's Walden Two Essay

3161 words - 13 pages

Is it possible for psychologists to ever understand the human condition well enough to create a utopia by "engineering" human behavior? This is the challenge thrown out by behavioral psychologist, B.F. Skinner in his novel, Walden Two (1948). Well written and entertaining, Walden Two is directed to the layman rather than to the professional psychologist. It concerns a fictitious intentional community of 1,000 started by one Frazier (no first name or title ever mentioned) who applies the tools of behavioral modification to make of Walden Two the best of all possible worlds.Skinner's technique as a propagandist is to show us Walden Two through the eyes of various outsiders who possess varying degrees of skepticism and enthusiasm for the community. The reader can identify with one or another of these visitors depending on his own inclinations. Skinner/Frazier is provocative in his claims, deliberately so, in my opinion, as another technique in breaking down resistance. The more we resist an idea, the more power it draws from our very resistance. He begins with teasers, ideas which have interest and merit on their own but which are fairly trivial and extrinsic to his central thesis. The reader and the skeptical visitors sense he is trying to soften them up and stiffen their backs all the more. A philosophy professor named Castle is the main bearer of resistance. Skinner looks down upon philosophy as a form of navel gazing and Castle is made an easy target. More serious reservations come from the narrator, a psychology professor named Burris. However, Burris also serves as a voice for Skinner and much conversation between him and Frazier is like an internal dialogue within Skinner, himself. The party is completed by two young men and their girlfriends. The guys and one of the girls are the enthusiasts of the group while the other girl resists by avoidance. She never engages any of Frazier's ideas and remains untouched by them throughout the visit.Why do we have such a strong tendency to resist the concept of behavioral engineering? Skinner devoted another book, this time in essay form, which grapples with the issue. Its title, "Beyond Freedom and Dignity," pretty eloquently explains the reason for such resistance. Do we really have free will? Do we even have a soul? Are we mere mechanistic beings of such finite dimensions that the entire workings can be completely understood and programmed by another human, if highly intelligent, being? Most people's tendency would be to revolt against such a notion. To intensify our revulsion, Frazier comes across with a smugness and egotism that must be calculated to activate our most atavistic possible response.For a man advocating a program with a formidable name like "behavioral engineering," Skinner's utopia promotes a great deal of freedom. There is no money and everyone consumes the goods of the society as he needs. The law of supply and demand is based on labor credits. Everyone is expected to contribute 4...

Find Another Essay On B.F. Skinner's Walden Two

Biography: B.F Skinner Essay

1611 words - 7 pages diagnosed with leukemia, it didn't let him down as he kept working. He had a good life and he will be remembered as one of the most famous psychologist for his inventions.WORK CITED LISTRuth's, Spencer A. Psychology.U.S: Holt, Renart and Winston, 1998Wikipedia, "B.F Skinner", 24th May 2006 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BF_Skinner>Wikipedia, "Walden Two", 23rd May 2006<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden_Two>Wikipedia, "Project Pigeon", 20th

Theory Essay (B.F.Skinner And Jerome Bruner)

524 words - 2 pages Wednesday, October 10, 2001 This essay is based on the two theories by Jerome Bruner and B.F. Skinner. In this essay B.F.Skinners' theory on Operant Conditioning is compared to that of Jerome Bruners' theory on cognitive learning. This states the ideas and opinion's of the two persons' and their theories on learning.Jerome Bruner had a great effect on cognitive learning. Bruners' theory states, " to perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is

The Theories of B.F. Skinner

1036 words - 4 pages . At 16, he died suddenly of a cerebral aneurysm; Skinner has described his thoughts about his brother's death as being "not much moved". The most important figure in Skinner's life was a schoolteacher named Mary Graves. Miss Graves was responsible for Skinner's English literature major and his career as a writer.Behavior therapy, unlike other theories, is not closely identified with any single person. It has several important proponents. (B.F

Behaviorism - A Methodological Proposal of Explaining the Behavior

3364 words - 13 pages . "Panacea, or Path to Hell.") 2. Skinner's thought has powerful implications because he has a plan of action, a plan to apply his technique to large-scale management of society. (see his novel WALDEN II) 3. Skinner is most vulnerable philosophically because: a. His technique works. It therefore prompts us to ask philosophical questions. b. He invites philosophical criticism when he wrote: "behaviorism is not the science of human behavior; it is the

The Demons Within

4157 words - 17 pages without these demons or little imperfections in him, Marito would have made for a very bland, boring, dull, flat character and the story would not have been nearly as interesting as it was. Is it possible for psychologists to ever understand the human condition well enough to create a utopia by "engineering" human behavior? This is the challenge thrown out by behavioral psychologist, B.F. Skinner in his novel, Walden Two (1948). Well written and

Skinners Operant Conditioning Theory

850 words - 3 pages Skinners Operant Conditioning Theory B.F Skinner (1904-1990), an American psychologist who was the leading exponent of the school of psychology know as behaviourism, maintained the idea that learning is a result of any change in overt behaviour. Changes in behaviour are determined by the way an individual responds to events (stimuli) in the environment. Skinner described this phenomenon as operant conditioning. Action

Visions of Utopia

3200 words - 13 pages throne above the stars of God. . . . " Knowledge, without wisdom (or Lucifer, without Minerva) will always fall, because pure knowledge leads only to pride. This theme, then, we must also keep in mind when considering the possibility of avoiding a dystopian society.   The Utopian novels we have read this term also seem to me to have problems, however, as means for the creation of an ideal society. Skinner's Walden Two seems to be the

B.F. Skinners theory of punishment

693 words - 3 pages the repetition of that same behavior. B.F. Skinner's experiment of operant conditioning was a cat in a puzzle box. The only way the cat could get out was to pull on a rope; at first the cat did it by mistake. As the experiment went on the cat's behavior became more and more purposeful. Soon the cat learned that the door opened immediately for his food. Skinner's theory of reward was called positive reinforcement, and his theory of punishment was

Carl Rodgers and B.F. Skinner: Behaviorism Comparison between two descriptions of behavior

829 words - 3 pages B.F. Skinner, who favored the behaviorist approach to psychology, criticized the psychoanalytical theory by suggesting that psychology should be the study of behavior and not just the mind. However, Skinner's approach was radical, in that he did consider our inner thoughts and feelings, but denied that they had anything to do with behavior. His study of behavior involved close contact with the experimental laboratory, where he experimented with

Learning Personality Theories

1229 words - 5 pages Learning Personality theories focus on human interaction with their environment and how personality can be modified through changes in behavior. B.F. Skinner proposed a Personality theory based on his Behavioral Analysis theories. Social Cognitive theory was created by Albert Bandura. This theory states that reactions to events are more influential than the events themselves. Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel formed the cognitive social learning

Biography of Burrhus Frederic Skinner

1647 words - 7 pages able to make more discoveries of the effect of new possibilities. Skinner is quoted in saying, “The research that I described in The Behavior of Organisms appeared in a new light. It was no longer merely an experimental analysis. It had given rise to a technology” (About B.F. Skinner, 2013). Skinner never worked with rats again; he stuck with pigeons because they learned faster than the rats. Skinner and Yvonne had two daughters. When Yvonne was

Similar Essays

Too Much Science In Walden Two By B.F. Skinner

1446 words - 6 pages their fears down on paper. Huxley’s Brave New World shows an unsettling optimistic front that covers the disturbing reality of a futuristic socialist world. After the war ended, more novels about the socialism appeared, George Orwell’s 1984 and B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two as a few examples, though they are complete opposites on the views of socialism presented. In Walden Two, the tone is very positive. The head of the community, a man

Positive Change In World Through Manipulation Of Behavior In B.F Skinner's Waldo Two

740 words - 3 pages Positive Change In World Through Manipulation of Behavior in B.F Skinner's Waldo Two      B.F. Skinner, in his novel Walden Two, presents many arguments about how he foresees a positive change in the world through manipulation of behavior on the personal level. Sigmund Freud, in his works, specifically Civilization and Its Discontents, presents his view of human nature and what is innately problematic about it. Both Freud and Skinner

Behavior Modification Essay

1104 words - 4 pages . Skinner, pg. 107). Some of Skinner's accomplishments include: project pigeon (1940), the baby tender ( 1944), a work of fiction titled Walden Two ( 1948), and his most widely criticized book titled Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). To roughly explain Skinner's connection with Alex's modification I will briefly go over his past achievements. Project Pigeon was an idea conceived by Skinner to use pigeons as missile guidance systems during WWII

B.F. Skinner Essay

760 words - 3 pages Burrhus Frederic Skinner (B.F. Skinner) was born March 20, 1904, in the small Pennsylvania town of Susquehanna. His father was a lawyer, and his mother- a strong and intelligent housewife. His upbringing was old-fashioned and hard-working. Skinner was an active, out-going boy who loved the outdoors and building things, and actually enjoyed school. His life was not without its tragedies; however in particular, his brother died at the age of 16 of