Archive for the ‘utopianism’ Category

Behaviourism will perfect the world

September 21, 2009

For the universe will change if you bring up your children, not in the freedom of the libertine, but in behavioristic freedom … Will not these children, in turn, with their better ways of living and thinking, replace us as society and in turn bring up their children in a still more scientific way, until the world finally becomes a place fit for human habitation?

J. B. Watson, 1930, in Nigel C. Benson, Introducing Psychology, Icon, 1999, p.75

Don’t let ‘intellectuals’ run anything

September 13, 2009

Bertrand Russell wanted to create young people, ‘freed from fear and inhibitions and rebellious or thwarted instincts…A generation educated in fearless freedom will have wider and bolder hopes than are possible to us, who still have to struggle with the superstitious fears that lie in wait for us below the level of consciousness. Not we, but the free men and women whom we shall create, must see the new world, first in their hope, and then at last in the full splendour of reality.’ War, famine, and even death itself, he implied, could be abolished if we brought up our children correctly. Scientific psychology (i.e. behaviourism of the John Watson school) would allow us to ‘train the instincts’ to produce ‘a harmonious character, constructive rather than destructive, affectionate rather than sullen, courageous, frank and intelligent…If existing knowledge were used and tested methods applied, we could, in a generation, produce a population almost wholly free from disease, malevolence and stupidity.

His son, subject to his behaviourist methods, went mad and was unable to hold together his marriage, look after his children or even himself. He became completely alienated from his father during his adult life.

Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell: The Ghost of Madness, pp.9-10

This sentiment may have been part of the problem too: Unless care is taken, the child feels (immensely important)…Do not let the child see how much you do for it, or how much trouble you take…Above all, we should not give the child a sense of self-importance which later experience will mortify, and which, in any case, is not in accordance with the facts.