B.F Skinner's Waldo Two: Positive Change in World Through Manipulation

Topics: Psychology, B. F. Skinner, Utopia Pages: 3 (820 words) Published: October 8, 1999
B.F Skinner's Waldo Two: Positive Change In World Through Manipulation of Behavior

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 agree that human behavior is the result of outside factors that severely hinder the concept of free will. Skinner believes that humans, in the correct environment, can live happily, while Freud understands that humans are destined to live in "some degree of anguish or discontent."

Skinner uses the ideal setting of Walden Two to illustrate his ideas of how human behavior should be "formed." Much of Skinner's argument on how to eliminate what he knows as problematic rests on his prescription of dismissing the notion of individual freedom. Skinner does not only say that the concept of individual freedom is a farce. He takes it a step further and states that the search for it is where society has gone wrong. He wants no part in the quest for individual freedom. If we give up this illusion, says Skinner, we can condition everyone to act in acceptable ways.

Skinner has a specific prescription for creating this utopian society. He declares that all that is necessary is to change the conditions which surround man. "Give me the specifications, and I'll give you the man" is his simple yet remarkable message. He claims that by controlling what a person's environment is, it is possible to craft a man to behave in any way. Skinner wants to use this notion to create a world without pain and suffering. In Walden Two, he systematically describes what conditions are necessary to create a world of happiness.

Skinner proposes that to create his perfect society, one needs only to come up with the characteristics of what man should be....

Bibliography: I. Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud.
II. The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
III. Walden Two, B.F. Skinner.
IV. Seven Theories of Human Nature, Leslie Stevenson.
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