Beyond Behaviorism

Beyond Behaviorism

Beyond Behaviorism

Beyond Behaviorism

Excerpt

This book presents a statement of my past attempts to understand what academic psychology is about. By academic psychology, I mean the psychology pursued and taught at universities. That is, I think of academic psychology as the pursuit of psychological knowledge for its own sake, at least in the first instance. I accept that this academic pursuit is not unrelated to the professional psychology practiced in clinics, schools, and other places where problems of conduct must be dealt with immediately. However, my primary concern here is with the academic discipline.

As I recall, my attempts to understand what psychology is about began in 1971 when I was an undergraduate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Of course I had tried to understand psychology before that time, but trying to understand psychology is different from trying to understand what psychology is about. My attempt to understand psychology as an undergraduate was a matter of trying to understand the psychology presented in textbooks and in prescribed journal articles. However, trying to understand what psychology is about amounts to finding a detailed explanation of why we need a psychology at all. It requires that we build a step-by-step account of the domain and problem that ordinary knowledge bequeaths to a pristine science of psychology.

In 1971 when I first started puzzling over the problem of what psychology is about, I could not have written this book. But by 1979, when I graduated with a PhD in psychology, I had an intuitive grasp of the core of what I have written now. Still, I could not have written the book then either. I had to do a great deal of reading and thinking first. Finally, in late 1985, I made a commitment to write for 3 months. If I had not made that commitment, I would still be reading and thinking, because, certainly, I had taken on an endless task. The pressure of other work forced me to put the manuscript aside after 3 months. I began writing again late in 1986, and this time, I finished the first draft. Late in 1987, I worked on the manuscript once more and tried to sharpen the argument and improve the . . .

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