Behaviorism

The problem of consciousness could be solved by ignoring it. Behaviorists traced their roots to the so called epicurians of the 18th century and before that to attempts to generalize plant tropisms to the actions of animals and man. Behaviorists explained all cognitive processes on reflexes and conditioned responses which were comparable across wide varieties of organisms. Thus human behavior, no matter how noble or furtive, could be explained on reflex responses to given situations or needs to satisfy bodily functions. Behaviorism did lend itself to experimentation very readily and was a boon to the credibility of scientists studying the mind. Behaviorist laboratories flourished in universities throughout the world; rat mazes and conditioned responses became the operant paradigms. Behaviorists were able to attract university positions, grant money, and behaviorist laboratories dominated neuroscience for a significant period of time. The failing of behaviorism is that it is a method rather than a theory and is patently hypocritical in denying or ignoring consciousness. Behaviorism did, however, purge psychology to place it squarely in the mainstream of academic science.

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