One Consequence of Dominance of Behaviorist Philosophy

The liberation from assumptions has long been strongly associated with freedom. Identifying the causes and sources of attitudes and actions begins freeing us from assumptions. This is one of the key purposes of the study of history. What is happening today, however, is that schools and universities are de-emphasizing and even removing the study of subjects such as history from the curriculum.

It is interesting to note that history is one of those subjects that makes use of higher forms of reasoning than deduction and induction. It does not simply concern itself with recording the facts and events of history, but also the causes, structures, and underlying patterns. The concept of another form of reasoning will be developed in another essay)

It is now popular to accept the empirical, 'scientific' view and believe that humans are just complex, mechanical, deterministic systems. This implies our assumptions are unavoidable and not undesirable (indeed, nothing is 'right' or 'wrong' because there are no criteria for value judgements). Since we are solely and completely determined by our past, circumstances and our environment, we a prisoners to our assumptions.

Prisoners to assumptions are a self-fulfilling prophecy of behaviorism. Behaviorism accepts it as a given, and so subjects such as history (and other things such as emphasis on independent thought) are removed from school curricula, resulting in an ever-growing proportion of society who are truly prisoner to their own assumptions about the world. The generation so produced is also truly behavioristic, because without critical thought on the subjects of one's own identity and the forces that shape one's attitudes, opinions and actions, one is at the mercy of those few who remain who understand and control the tools for manipulation, such as the media.

There will, of course, be a small minority who discover their own independence, and resist the forces that will try to influence and shape them, but these will be few and far between. The characteristic of human science, technology and all knowledge, is that we don't have to individually discover it - it is passed from generation to generation by education, and so each generation can add to the knowledge and experience of the past. If education does not teach children about the sources and causes of their opinions, and teach them to understand their own assumptions so they can be more truly free, then humankind will pass the current apex of enlightenment and self-consciousness. The apex may even be already past.

Finally, and my most pessimistic view of behaviorism is that if the majority of humanity loses its ability to think and act independently, we are not only going to lose the independent thought, but we are only one generation away from losing science and technology. It may be possible for us to teach an understanding of the underlying forces and causes of natural processes, and its application to technology without teaching independent thought. However, this will soon render science impotent, restricted to interpreting the knowledge of the past. Technology will become magic to more than just a large minority of society. The possibilities are truly frightening. Here I can only recommend to you, dear reader, to go as quickly as you can and read Isaac Asimov's science-fiction landmarks Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.