Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
The Quandary of a Psychology without a Soul
by Samuel Benedeck Sotillos
The Institute of Traditional Psychology
Behaviorism is psychology without a soul where human beings are reduced
to mere material things that can be manipulated on by the environment.
Basically, there is no difference between human and animal behavior and
therefore animal studies can tell us all we need to know about human
behavior. The behaviorists take great pride in telling us that their
psychology is scientific because it is based on empirical observations.
In actual fact, as the author of this book superbly demonstrates,
behaviorism falls into the category of materialistic scientism. Indeed,
as the author rightly reminds us, all psychology without foundations in
metaphysics is soulless. In their desire to make psychology a science,
all they have done is to turn it into the pseudo-religion of
scientism. Scientism claims that it alone can be the arbiter of
all truth. However, having done away with metaphysics, it cannot lay
claim to this as it is limited to sensory experiences alone. The
behaviorists have no time for the Freudian unconscious. But it also
rejects all forms of consciousness as this too belongs to the age of
magic and superstition, as they see it. What use is there for
free-will, human dignity and introspection in behaviorism?
Behaviorism thrived in a culture that denied the existence of the soul.
The author quotes from the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy
that took place at Harvard University in 1926: "The soul...now is of
vey little importance." The spirit of William James, who said "the soul-theory is a
complete superfluity" lives on in much that is modern psychology.
Behaviorism is an "anomaly within a
anomaly" because it not only rejects the soul but it also
rejects the very faculty it seeks to study: the human psyche! This new
psychology turns out not to be new at all: it is the old materialist
science. The behaviorists were largely atheists. They were also
remarkably unethical, presumably because ethics would not have made any
sense to their understanding of what it means to be human. John B.
Watson hated all forms of religion. He was infamously involved with his
student (and mistress) on experimenting with "Little Albert," a
nine-month old baby who was conditioned to develop a fear of rats. For
Watson, evolutionism spelled the end of religion. The author makes use
of an excellent quote: "Psychology, having
first lost its soul to Darwin, now loses its mind to Watson."
As the author ably demonstrates in this beautifully
crafted work, behaviorism has had an irrevocable impact on the way the
human psyche has been understood in the last hundred years, which
continues to have grave conesquences not only on the individual but the
entire human collectivity, as behavioristic psychology along with
Freudian psychoanalysis provide the foundations for modern psychology.
This work powerfully demonstrates that without undergoing a profound
analysis of this problematic structure upon which all of contemporary
psychology is constructed upon, psychology and mental health will
remain in crisis and continue to be a parody of what the "science of the soul"
is meant to be.
Copyright ©; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2020
Version: 29th November