June 3, 2015
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer
The following writing is my response to the paper “Radical Behaviorism and Buddhism: Complementarities and Conflicts” by Diller and Lattal (2008). It is in the middle of the night and I am in a meditative mood. I am quiet and I like to be up at this time. The moon lights the garden, it is pleasantly cool and I sit with my legs crossed on the soft carpet.
I always like to give a response to the abstract of a paper. Based on my reading of the abstract, I have an idea of what this paper is going to be about and I begin to formulate what I am going to write. However, one thing is always certain. Regardless of how I am going to respond to this paper, I will write about Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB). I only read papers like this to be able to write about SVB. I already disagree with the authors who hope by discerning the communalities between Buddhism, and Radical Behaviorism to enhance each philosophy.
I am not into enhancing Buddhism, but I am into enhancing Behaviorism. Although at this point hardly any behaviorist recognizes my work, my writings about SVB are meant to enhance behaviorism. I consider myself a behaviorist and I consider SVB a behaviorist concept. My goal is to extend Skinner’s work on Verbal Behavior with two subsets of verbal behavior he or other behaviorist haven’t talked about,, namely, SVB and Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB). I can’t imagine he wasn’t aware of them or didn’t consider them, because SVB and NVB create contingencies for behaviorism or for mentalism.
The reason that paper was written was obviously because the authors felt behaviorism was missing something which presumably could be found in Buddhism. I would never attempt to enhance Radical Behaviorism with something as rotten as Buddhism. The authors think Buddhism may enhance Behaviorism because they still believe in this superstitious nonsense. It is because I have been rejected by many behaviorists for not being behaviorist enough that I make a big deal out of this. Buddhist mumbo jumbo is not scientific.
I would never characterize radical behaviorism by saying it “ sought to articulate the principles by which the control of human and nonhuman behavior might be understood, emphasizing the role of environment in this control.” (underlining added). Since radical behaviorism succeeded in defining these principles ,it is odd that these authors use the word “sought” which comes from “seeking” and which directly relates to the mentalistic world of mysticism. Unlike so-called seekers of enlightenment, and truth, radical behaviorists didn’t look inside themselves, for the causation of behavior and were able to identify environmental variables which cause the behavior.
Control of human and nonhuman behavior is not a matter of chance, of whether it “might “or “might not” “be understood”, it has been understood! This kind of writing makes an uninformed reader think as if only some haphazard attempt was made, which didn’t entirely succeed. All this only to mollify the reader for the good stuff behaviorist s might be able to learn from the less assuming, humble, but pre-scientific Buddhism. I take offense with the word “might” which questions the empirical facts which are well-established.
Any wise behaviorist must immediately be thinking about the lack of reinforcement when he or she reads that the supposedly enlightened Buddha “suggested first and foremost that there is suffering inherent in life”. Supposedly, this suffering is caused by the individual or rather, by his or her karma. To give these two mutually exclusive world views equal footing and to cover up the undeniable fact that the authors are pandering to religion,, they are treated as different philosophies, which might have something in common . “
At first glance radical behaviorism and Buddhism seem like disparate philosophical entities; one is a philosophy which informs a science; the other is a philosophy which informs a religion.” Really? We are asked to look further, and deeper into the supposedly profound meaning of Buddhism? Moreover, we are asked to look for communalities between science and religion “because it may result in fewer competing demands on followers of each.” I firmly believe there should be competing demands on the followers of each: science is the end of religion! It is meaningless to write about any religion that it is about “ authenticity, rigor and logic.”
One of the main reasons we don’t have SVB is because we keep buying into NVB thinking that it is SVB; old wine in new bags. If one knows what SVB is one cannot be fooled, but as long as one doesn’t know what SVB is,, one will be befooled, regardless of whether one is befooling others or is befooled by others or whether one is a radical behaviorist or not. Someone who knows SVB is neither befooled by others nor is he or she trying to befool others. Only those who continue to have NVB are swayed by the overrated vague spiritual " quest for truth."
"On further analysis it may be possible to conceptualize aspects of Buddhism as variants of behavioral philosophy, thereby building yet another bridge between the latter and other great intellectual traditions.” There is no need to build a bridge between behaviorism and outdated ways of thinking. To call them “great intellectual traditions” is to praise the emperor without clothes. What is needed, however, it a clean break from our superstitious past, but this break is only going to come about in a conversation in which we explore the great difference between SVB and NVB.
Our superstitions continue because of NVB and are extinguished by SVB. Supposedly, an “understanding of how these entities operate similarly may permit a better understanding of the behavior of the followers of each”. Furthermore, “this understanding may be important in terms of communicating between disciplines or groups of people; with better understanding, communication between areas may be enhanced.”(underlinings added). The authors seem to be thinking that understanding improves our communication and that bad communication is due to a lack of understanding. In SVB we find out that it is not a lack of understanding which prevented communication, but a lack of experiencing. Moreover, in NVB the need for understanding is endlessly emphasized, while nobody is experiencing anything. NVB is dissociative in nature because our reality is so aversive and hostile. In SVB, on the other hand, we find out that communication is immediately improved due to appetitive stimuli.
Morris (2003) has commented on the “benefits of consilience of knowledge across different intellectual domains” ,but Buddhism and behaviorism are not different intellectual domains just as biology and physics. SVB is the only language of consilience.Without doing anything about how we talk nothing changes. Williams seems to recognize this as he “discussed the necessity of removing the dualistic framework that dominates colloquial verbal behavior in understanding both Buddhism and radical behaviorism.” I claim that this “dualistic framework that dominates colloquial verbal behavior” is kept going by NVB. The subject - object distinction is really about the speaker-listener distinction in everyday verbal behavior. In NVB there is a difference between the speaker and the listener, but in SVB the speaker is his or her own listener.
These “different frameworks” always come to us as a speaker comes to a listener. The question is whether the speaker is controlling the behavior of the listener with an aversive or an appetitive contingency. In the former, we will continue with our NVB, but in the latter we achieve SVB. There is no discussion between “schools of thought” there are only individuals representing these “schools of thought.” As we will discover, NVB continues our separate “schools of thought” but these schools will merge and become irrelevant into the consilience produced by SVB.