Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beyond Freedom & Dignity

Did you enjoy reading Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity? If you did, you are a better person than I am!

Anyways, as difficult as the reading was, Skinner has some provocative thoughts on the nature of the human condition. The implications of his theory are also significant because they would offer a solution to the many problems which have plagued humans from the beginning of time.

Consider the idea of human freedom (autonomous man) and tell us if you agree with Skinner that no man is truly free. Then depending on whether you agree or not, evaluate whether humans can ever create the "perfect society" implied in Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

Spend some time pondering these issues and considering the questions in the excerpt before writing. Blog is due on Monday, November 24.


lovejonas91 said...


lovejonas91 said...
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Anonymous said...

lalw first!


i see you typing that blog next to me Natalie


Anonymous said...



lovejonas91 said...
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lovejonas91 said...

Ok, now the real comment:
Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity was quite an interesting read. I have to saw it was interesting, but also a bit on the dry and boring side.

I agree with Skinner and the idea that "no man is truly free". Take for example; people have the First Amendment Right including the component freedom of speech. This means that people can say whatever they want. However, if a student says something in school which is not appropriate to the teacher, they get reprimanded.
Another example dealing with the idea that "no man is truly free" deals with war. If men get drafted, they HAVE to go to war. It is not their choice- NO FREEDOM OF CHOICE.

I do not think that humans could ever create the "perfect society". I feel that our world is so corrupted with bad influences such as disturbing media ads, spam emails, violence, crime, etc.... There will NEVER be a way to create a perfect society where everything goes right.

B.F. Skinner's article made some good points. It mentioned that "the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values" (page 1). This is true, because some cultures believe that sisters should marry brothers or that you can only marry a person that your parents pick out for you. Also, B.F. Skinner mentioned that people have two different repertoires; one with friends and another with family. This is so true. With my family, we are of Armenian background, so a great deal of my family enjoys speaking in Armenian at events, gatherings, social conversations, etc… However, with my friends (whether it would be non-Armenian friends or Armenian friends), I don’t feel comfortable talking to them in fluent Armenian. I feel more comfortable talking fluently in Armenian with my family than I do with my friends.


Katherine said...

Of course I didn’t really enjoy reading that Skinner stuff, but like you said it was pretty interesting. I agree that no man is truly free. Just think about the laws this country has made. Natalie gave a good example with her First Amendment Right. We are told we have the freedom of speech, but then we’re banned from saying so many things. Another example is gay marriage rights. In some states, men and women aren’t even allowed to marry the person they want to be with. I think this is a simple choice that everyone should be allowed to make. We too often mix religious and political issues together, such as the one I just mentioned and also abortion rights. This is just one of the many reasons a perfect society is impossible.

As it is, making somebody happy is very difficult. Making an entire society happy at the same time, all the time simply cannot happen. Everybody will always possess their own opinions and no matter what we cannot get everyone to agree on every issue. Even if somehow we could achieve this, it is human nature to go against the perfections of something. I learned a lot about this in Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. There is too much immorality and rebellion in our world to ever completely calm things down, and I think these issues may only get worse in the future. Like Skinner said, different cultures hold different viewpoints on topics making this “perfect society” even more unattainable.

It’s a funny thing to think about because while the idea of a perfect world is intriguing, would I really want it? I like variety and sometimes the unpredictable nature of our society interests me. Would I want it to be “perfect”? Does perfect mean boring? I don’t think I’ll ever know the answers to these questions.

- Katherine Gannon

Anonymous said...


The reading of Beyond Freedom and Dignity, was indeed very difficult to read. I agree that no man is free. We all answer to some higher call some way or another in a given situation.
We could never from the 'perfect' society today. There are too many bad people in this world. The perfect society would be run by the people, and there are just too many horrible people in this world to have that kind of society.
Say that we had a perfect society. We would prevent would we do that? Curfew's would be placed, laws stating that you couldn't talk to people a certain way. We would be so frustrated trying to become perfect, that the people would eventually overthrow the government.
I know I'd like to have a better influence coming from society and the government, but never would I want it perfect...there's no freedom in that.


Marissa Mardo said...

Although Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity was a bit confusing and difficult to follow, I did find some parts of the article interesting. I do agree with Skinner that no man is truly free. The country has so many laws in effect which would make it impossible for everyone to be truly free. I do agree that each person wants to be able to live their life differently in order to show their individuality, and have their voice/opinion heard. But on the other hand, i dont think it would be a good idea for everyone to be free to make their own decisions. This connects to the next question because i believe that certain boundaries have to be set in order to move closer to trying to create the "perfect society."

While certain laws and regulations that are in effect can help to contribute to creating a more positive society, a "perfect society" is definitly impossible to achieve. Instead of working to achieve a "perfect society", i believe that it is better to just work to try to prevent people from breaking the laws and doing bad things. Once again, i realize that it will be impossible to stop people from doing bad things. But instead of working to create the idea of the "perfect society" where everyone is happy, respectful, giving, etc, we should just try to prevent the shootings, murders, discrimination.

I believe that the "perfect society" is impossibe to achieve. But i do feel that we could work harder to prevent the negative things in the world, which would therefore be one step closer to the idea of the perfect society. So, i guess i will never really know what a "perfect society" would consist of and be like.

Anonymous said...

who is up at 6:34am? seriously that is really really early.

anyways, Skinner is correct in saying that no man is free if man was truly free then there would be no laws thus causing Anarchy (in the UK). Agreeing with Natalie freedom of speech is also not really a freedom because the Govt also constricts our talking, did you know that saying "I want to kill the president of the United States of America" is illegal, it's one of the few sentences that cant be spoken. i can say it because I'm doing a public service by telling you about this.

I feel that humans could create the perfect society, yeah that's right Natalie I do have some faith in the human race, i believe if Humans really tried to not kill steal and destroy we could create a pseudo utopia and we could all live happily ever after.

I do believe we have freedom of choice but its so limited to mundane things that we dont even care for it, sure that one big thing may come across every couple of years but most of what we choose is so simple and useless that it contributes nothing to making our lives better.

Wynne said...

I can see why this guy gave up trying to become a novelist. He can’t write. Or at least, his writing style is by no means interesting. But, anyway, this section of B.F. Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity was unusual to read. In part I agree with him. Then, on the other hand, I find him to be quite pessimistic and rather…well…wrong.

First off, I completely agree that no man is ever truly free. Just think of today in America – the land of freedom. We’re not allowed to voice our opinions in school without being vilified (i.e. you can’t say Merry Christmas without it practically being labeled a hate-crime in some areas). The lower class has become completely dependent on the welfare system. The system was great back in the day of FDR when in was needed, but now the poor have become strangled and obsessed by it, most thinking they don’t have to work because they know a check automatically comes in the mail every few weeks. It’s sad and rather anger evoking knowing those who work have to pay for those who don’t. The media has destroyed the conservative opinion; MSNBC and CNN practically telling viewers to vote for Obama. The Fairness Doctrine may come back in 2009, putting an end to free talk radio. The list goes on and on and on. Some freedoms are an illusion. Some don’t even exist.

Now calm down all of you. I know most of this class is part of Obama-mania. I’m leaving that topic now however, and moving on to how I disagree. Man can choose. It is very possible. While culture may shape one’s appearance or tongue, it can never actually shape what one truly believes in. Determination, goodness, rebellion, anger, humor, again the list goes on forever. One’s general personality is controlled by oneself alone.

Now for a perfect society. It doesn’t exist. It never will exist. Even if one takes a psychotic crack at Communism – that terribly sterile and “perfect” order of things – one will never find something that is truly ideal on earth. And even by some slight chance one did, what a terrible place it would be. Who in their right mind would ever want to live in a “perfect society”? I’d miss mistakes. I’d miss things going wrong in my life. I’d die of utter boredom!

And naturally, when something is perfect, than how is it free?

MLRoxYourSox said...

I must say that the article was pretty boring...not a great read but I did find a few things he said to be true. "A person possesses one repertoire appropriate to his life with his friends and another appropriate to his life with his family..." (pg 2). This is very correct in my opinion. I am completely different when I am at home rather than when I'm out with my friends. Surprisingly, I am quiet at home most times and when I'm at school or out with my friends I am talkative and very outgoing. I would agree with B. F. Skinner on this one.

Now, I do not believe that man is free at all. The government always says you have the freedom to this and that yet they govern everything that we do. I like Natalie's example of freedom of speech. That doesn't exist! We cannot truly say what we want. Also we cannot do what we please. They control the drinking age, the age where you can buy cigarettes, the driving age. Sure, they are doing this for our own good but if we wanted to do these things, we couldn't because its illegal. Freedom means your allowed to do what you want but with laws and regulations we cannot do what we want.

I also do not believe that we can ever create the perfect society because we cant all be controlled. We cant stop crimes from happening or stop accidents. Although we may try, we will never succeed. If the laws can't create a perfect society, then I'm not sure what will.

Michaela Laliberte

Ben Pickering said...

Dear Mr Yip and fellow scholars,
I hope yall had a jolly weekend and had lots of funnn.
I would agree with mister Skinner in that no man is completly free. In some sense this is good because if everyone was free to do what they wanted to there would be no order in the country. This is what laws are for to restrict people from doing harm. Restriciting people's freedom is suppose to be meant for the best of all, whoever there are circumstances where people should have more freedom.
As far as a perfect society, that would just be impossible. There would be no way to satisfy every single person at the same time. The differences that everyone has would just mess this up and make a perfect society impossible. Everyone has different views and opinions so getting everyone to agree on something will never happen just like a perfect society.

Love Benjamin Miguel
P.S. - Go Bulldogsssss

Michael said...

It is copletly imposible to have a perect or near perfect community or society. I belive that this is nere imposible to accomplish. People have deiffrent views for things and everyone is unique if not the owrld would be boring so i think that society could not ever have everyone agree on one thing. there might be some kind of overall agreement, but many of the little things are diffrent from person to person. When you really think about it ,there really isn't such a thing as a "perfect" society. If everyone were to agree and do everything the same, the world would be quite boring. It is just human nature for everyone to act in their own way and believe in what they believe in. everyone has there own opion.

laurynp said...

I agree somewhat with skinner that no man is truly free. In many situations humans are restrained by rules that the world has set out for us. Also no man is "truly free" because there are always set boundaries in ones head. Not all people will go beyond the rules which really shows that no one is free because there are always boundaries holding us back.

The "perfect society" would not be one without rules, because most likely, humans would not know how to function without any boundaries. Being completely free an just having freedom are completely different things. As natalie and katherine have already said, the first amendment and gay marriage are such examples of no freedom. Most humans are brought up in a household with rules, which ultimately prepares them for the larger rules there are in the real world.

Anonymous said...

People have always been prisoners of society. society demands that we follow its trends and there's no way to defy it because of people natural desire to be accepted by the community, if some people feel that urge more strongly than others but its still there. so of course no man is free, its always been that way because we want to be able to go out and socialize with other humans.

McCall Theriault said...

I thought that B.F. Skinner was right! There really is no freedom when you think about it. how college is impeaded in our brains since the first day of first grade. Like you said we do sometimes have the choice of college but not the choice to go! Feedom is like crazy when you think about it. You think you are free however everything you do is watched and monitored.

However, the article was kind os hard to understand. It was long and some of the words were confusing. Although the article was informitive.

Natalie gave a great example of the first ammendent and i think that Skinner really challenges the idea of it and how it is preseved.

well thats it....hope I get credit!!

Chris said...

Mr. Yip,

First of all I'm sorry, I'm posting this really, I didn't realize I missed this blog. Anyway, the reading was confusing, but I remember everything we talked about in class, which makes it easier to understand. Anyway, I agree with Skinner. We don't have the freedom we think we have. We have choices, but were limited to them.

Roberto said...

So I'm assuming I'm the only one that liked the Beyond Freedom and Dignity reading. I agree with Skinner and everyone else with the fact that we live in a world of false freedoms, or at least a country. Thing is there's always the fine print you have to look out for. The most blatant example is our idea of freedom of speech, as long as it doesn't offend anyone (hooray political correctness?) or coincide with the rules of that particular establishment (school) we're fine.

Concerning the perfect society, it's been attempted once before, just not everyone was allowed to live in this "perfect society". (Hitler) It may be possible for a perfect society to exist, closest thing to it would probably be Communism like Ted mentioned but with Communism there's no incentive other than making your "perfect society" better (oxymoron?).

Matt L said...

After reading Beyond Freedom and Dignity, I do have to agree with Skinner that we do not enjoy complete freedom. Although the laws we live under do give us many freedoms, the government still has the final say and can remove or amend these laws at anytime. Another reason why I dont feel we are totally free is because there is no place to live in the world in which there are not laws that have to be followed. A truely free society would have to be COMPLETELY rule free and place no restrictions on its people.