Why Skinner Matters
B. F. Skinner is arguably America’s most significant psychologist. A Professor of Psychology at Harvard from 1958 to 1974, Skinner was principal figure behind Operant Conditioning and Radical Behaviors, as well as the best-selling Utopian novel, Walden Two.
This course will provide an overview of his life and contributions to psychology, explore his social philosophy and philosophy, discuss Walden Two and the real-life utopian communities based upon it, describe several of his techniques for changing habits and behavior modification, and conclude with a discussion of his late book, “Enjoy Old Age,” which addresses how to best adapt to the challenges of aging.
Time, Location, Registration
Five classes will take place on Tuesdays, from 11:15 AM to 12:45 PM, beginning on January 8, 2019, at the Atheneum Building on East River Road at 50 Fairwood Drive, Rochester NY 14623 – about one mile south of the main RIT campus. (For more detailed directions, see www.rit.edu/gcr/osher/contact.)
Classes are restricted to Osher members only, not the general public, and attendees need to register beforehand. Osher recommends registering online by visiting the Osher website at osher.rit.edu.
One: Why Skinner Matters: a general introduction to B. F. Skinner, his achievements, his controversial philosophical positions, and the practical utility of applied behavioral analysis.
Two: Behaviorism The Science and Behaviorism The Philosophy. This class will examine Skinner’s actual scientific achievements and discoveries, the philosophy of science underlying them, and the philosophy of radical behaviorism that Skinner eventually evolved. The class will also examine the relationship between theory and practice in terms of actual habit control.
Three: Designing Utopia. This class will discuss Skinner’s novel Walden Two and Skinner’s use of operant analysis to understand engineer improved social practices.
Four: Extending Behaviorism. This class will involve presentations and discussions of extensions and developments of behavioral technology in the aftermath of Skinner, including applied behavior analysis, behavior therapy, Joseph Cautela’s covert conditioning, cognitive psychology and rational-emotive behavior therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, and the blockchain.
Five: Enjoying Old Age. Skinner is one of the few psychologists to have applied his own techniques to himself, and to (by his own report) have significantly improved his own life in doing so. Himself living to advanced old age, he wrote Enjoy Old Age, a book discussing how best to navigate the challenges of aging. This concluding class will examine his work on the subject, and then briefly summarize his life work as a whole.
Suggested Reading Materials:
Walden Two, 1948. ISBN 0-87220-779-X (revised 1976 edition).
Science and Human Behavior, 1953. ISBN 0-02-929040-6. (A free PDF copy of this book may be downloaded at the B. F. Skinner Foundation web site BFSkinner.org.)
Beyond Freedom and Dignity, 1971. ISBN 0-394-42555-3.
Enjoy Old Age: A Program of Self-Management, with M. E. Vaughan, 1983. ISBN 0-393-01805-9.
About The Instructor
David Pascal (pen name of Rudy Matic) has a BS in Psychology, a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, and Practitioner Certification in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). He is a marketing consultant, author, ghostwriter, and web and graphic designer, and owns a small publishing firm, Pascal Editions. More information about David is available at www.davidpascal.com.
He can be reached via the contact page below, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any psychological, therapeutic or other information provided during the above classes, in private or public communications prior or subsequent to the classes, or on this web site, is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered psychological or therapeutic advice. You should consult with a qualified doctor or therapist or other medical professional to determine what may course of treatment may be best for your individual needs. Neither David Pascal nor Osher make any guarantee or other promise as to any results that may be obtained from using any content communicated. No one should make any therapeutic or mental health or general health decision without first consulting his or her own doctor or medical advisor and conducting his or her own research and due diligence. To the maximum extent permitted by law, David Pascal and any organization associated with him disclaim any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses. David Pascal makes no claims to be a state or medically certified therapist, and any content contained on or made available through his classes, communications or website here or elsewhere is not intended to be and does not constitute psychological advice or therapeutic advice. Your use of any information provided during classes, or in the course of private or public communications, or on this website, or involving materials linked to from the web, is at your own risk.