Friday, September 30, 2011

Mind...what a waste

I want to make clear a couple of points I raised in Wednesday class; they have to do with my intellectual orientation to the study of human behavior.

First and foremost, I am a behaviorist. This means that I observe everything that humans do in terms of behavior. This includes thinking, feeling, etc. As such, the purpose of a human science is to explain or account for behavior. I do this by using the evidence generated by research conducted by behavior analysts. Why? Because after years of consideration, I have concluded that they have the best empirical evidence to support their claims. In addition, many claims made by behaviorists have been confirmed through other research.

Second...please don't think that because I reject the notion of "mind" that you have to as you don't. Your acceptance or rejection of this claim has no bearing on how well you do in the course. The reason I reject it is because I believe that the issue is explaining behavior (see above) and I think the addition of something called, "mind" to do that is unnecessary and misleading.

In addition, if we posit that people act because of mind, we have a problem...mind is an immaterial object...this means that it has no empirically identifiable properties (you can't touch, taste, hear, see, nor smell it). As such it is similar to a "ghost" or "spirit" and these notions are rejected by scientists because we cannot verify the existence of them. Put simply, based on what science has demonstrated after hundreds of years of application is that an immaterial object (mind) cannot control a material object (body). If we accept this premise, we have no reason to use the scientific method anymore because it is rendered useless since it is based on empirical observations.

So, what does work to control human behavior? This is still not well understood, but we know that the brain plays a part (if not THE part). Notice how a brain is not the same as the "mind." The brain has an empirical reality, whereas mind does not. So, if we want to find out the role that brain plays in human behavior, we have something to work with. Many people will say, "mind" when they are really referring to brain; I prefer to just say, "brain" if that is what I am being referring to.