- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Should we be constrained by the notion of social conditioning?

Posted by: Sloopy on March 04, 19100 at 12:32:06:

In Reply to: Behaviorism posted by Barry Stoller on March 02, 19100 at 11:10:37:

Barry : I will, however, voice an objection regarding your dismissal of behaviorism and your adoption of internalized conditioners.

Sloopy: This could be an example of two different roads leading to the same destination. For my part, I am rejecting moral codes and "human nature" yet resist dismissing entirely the notion of our species having a conscience--an innate notion of 'fairness.' Then, on the second level, I am talking about how inquiry should proceed. Should we be constrained by the notion of social conditioning? Can we attribute some behaviors to the nature of the organism, and if so what?

Our discussion has taken on the dimensions of discussing the existence or non-existence of God. There really ain't no end to it. So now we have to examine the POLITICAL dimensions of the discussion IN ITS CONTEXT. That is, how it relates to the political tenor of the times.

On this point, I'd like to bring your attention to a book by Dorothty Nelkin and M.Susan Lindee "The DNA Mystique: The Gene as a Cultural Icon" (1995). Very quickly, this book deals with the fact that today's popular culture is positively giddy with genes and destiny and what this cultural pre-occupation means to society as a whole. You've pointed out the political consequences which the notions of destiny have, and I agree with what you've said. As I said, I don't agree that Behaviorism is an espistemic totality, nor do I think it generative as far as attaining a greater understanding of human language, or the human mind. But for the time being , my positions have ZERO political significance, so I'd like to drop it.

Barry: Put another way: you say the conscience (or ego) moves the behavior

Sloopy: No, no. In Freudian terms, the conscience would be more parallel to the superego, but I don't want to be limited to this model.

More Sloopy: I didn't say this. I said we have a conscience which connects us with the past, present and future. It's a big difference between that and saying that it moves behavior. I'm talking about that omnipresent "should"--I think with capitalist/industralism, we've lost something. I think that we can keep our industralism, but we need to lose the capitalism.

Barry:@And I think a mediating force can be conceptualized as a conscience but I say that behavior results from the consequences of past behavior. To note that sentient beings narrate and adjudge these consequences changes nothing of my claim.
Furthermore, as a man of the left, you may appreciate the idea that people must alter their environments in order to better their lives (the behaviorist AND Marxist prime directive) instead of the idea that in order to better their lives people must change themselves (the capitalist position).

Sloopy: Agreed. It's just that I'd like to see a communist rhetoric animated by the notion that cooperation and mutual aid are the natural inclinations of our species.

As Marc Richelle observed: (Good, but snipped. Curious readers can see Barry's post above)

More Barry: And as a final aside: Have the Freudian mechanisms been anything but a substitution for the very 'human nature' claim on absolute values you soundly reject? Let us not forget Freud's ruling class orientation, especially his comments on socialism in Civilization and Its Discontents...

Sloopy: Freud's concepts have made their way into common language to such an extent that one can refer to them without accepting the whole of what is Freudianism. Similarly, you can say the words "introvert" and "extrovert" without ascribing to the whole of Carl Jung's philosophy. (Although his work in astrology is fascinating. Are you an Aries, Barry?)

So, I was under the impression that I could use the words id, ego and super-ego and id without fear or consequence. If that's not true, let me know and I'll make the appropriate adjustments. (Freud's a can o'worms, Barry, Can we leave it shut?)

Thanks for an interesting debate,


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