A Short Refutation of Behaviourism

Behaviourism began with the aim – we might say Heideggerean ideal – of practicing a science which does not think. Instead of the subjective methods of interview and introspection, behaviourists constructed an ‘objective’ observational model, in which, allegedly, antecedents and consequences would be causally strung together without the need for conjecture or inference. All of this was pinned to a transformation of the human subject into an object, and moreover, an object which functioned primarily as a learning machine, and whose workings could be understood without any reference to an inner world. (Not to mention without reference to others’ inner worlds – it was not for nothing that Wittgenstein considered behaviourism a kind of solipsism). Continue reading