This essay has two goals. The first is to define the behavioristic study of natural events and to classify behavior. The second is to stress the importance of the concept of purpose.Given any object, relatively abstracted from its surroundings for study, the behavioristic approach consists in the examination of the output of the object and of the relations of this output to the input. By output is meant any change produced in the surroundings by the object. By input, conversely, is (...) meant any event external to the object that modifies this object in any manner. (shrink)
The intention and the result of a scientific inquiry is to obtain an understanding and a control of some part of the universe. This statement implies a dualistic attitude on the part of scientists. Indeed, science does and should proceed from this dualistic basis. But even though the scientist behaves dualistically, his dualism is operational and does not necessarily imply strict dualistic metaphysics.
In a recent essay Professor Taylor criticizes the criteria used by Rosenblueth, Wiener and Bigelow in 1943 to distinguish purposeful from non-purposeful behavior. He also criticizes our definition of behavior, our concept of the vague as opposed to the general, our use of the word correlation, and our statement that a system may reach a final condition. Indeed, there seems to be little, if anything, in our paper to which he does not emphatically object.He maintains that the notions of purpose (...) and teleology are not only useless for the understanding of mechanical behavior, but wholly incongruous when applied to this behavior. He further affirms that our use of the term purpose “bears no similarity whatever to the meaning which is ordinarily attached to it.” He does not state, however, his own notions of purpose and teleology; and the meaning which he considers to be ordinarily attached to the term purpose. This omission weakens his criticism considerably. (shrink)
The distinction between psychology, logic, and epistemology is a commonplace. The first treats of experience as an act, experience in its relation to the individual observer. The second concerns itself with the internal marks by which truth may be distinguished from error, and in so far as it deals with experience, has to do with some sort of validity of the experience as evidence of a truth. The third discusses in a general way all the elements—observer, object, immediate presentation—which enter (...) into the experience. (shrink)