Inquiry into Inquiries: Essays in Social Theory

By Arthur F. Bentley; Sidney Ratner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINETEEN
Muscle-Structured Psychology

I find today that almost all behavior subjected to psychological inquiry is still approached and studied as if programmed by a Patterner, Maker or Decider, which (or who) is taken as present as an inhabitant or associate of the active human organism. No doubt a fair half of the research workers do not profess belief in such an actor, nor do they introduce one officially in their studies. My point is that, belief or no belief, acknowledgment or no acknowledgment, these companionate actors are still distinctively at work inside the terminology through which behavioral research is developed, and that they are still used as border- markers between an alleged physical and an alleged psychological in this subjectmatter. A half century ago mechanistic attempts to replace the human actor gained prominence but proved themselves to be as meager and inadequate as have been the conventional mentalist's attempts to hold the fort permanently and irrevocably for himself. Bowels of mercy, splenetic dispositions, kind hearts, and big brains were no more organically developed than were similar qualities and quantities put in mentalistic terms. The current material and psychical "particulars" are equally non-constructive and disintegrative for modern inquiry. And when the organic process is handled as if within a skin, and not as technically a transaction of the organism and environment jointly, the effect is all the worse.

The human body, anatomists tell us, is about 80 per cent muscle. Inquiries into habit are inquiries directly into muscular patterning, and do not need assignment to powers and capacities developed in other than muscular terminologies. I do not mean this statement to interfere with anyone's belief, or customary method of talk -- I am considering only workmanship in research and its needs. But it is just as reasonable, if not as conventional, to refer all the behaviors, so far as they are studied as actions within a skin, to muscular locus as to refer them to neurocephalic locus. The value of "intentionality," if one wishes to adopt

____________________
From sketches for a paper on Behavioral Locus ( 1950).

-335-

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