Konditioning and instinkt.


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Siens Fiktion dystopias.

H G Wells, the 'konstructiv socialist' mayd the atempt to renw the world in A Modern Utopia. It is almost the most boring bwk he ever rowt. As a kritik pointed out, Wells protested against a statik konseption of sosiety but his own social plan has no dynamism or sens of going any-wer. And I say that as uon hw found Wells' works, in al jenres, konsistently intelijent and enjoyabl.

Wells did rIt dystopias, tu. LIk Huxley, his naim is indisolubly link'd to at lyst uon of them, The Time Machine. The term, dystopia, was yus'd by the Rusian author, Yevgeny Zamyatin. We ( 1920 ) is his krucial kontribution to the jenre. Its kolektivist profesy and al its author's rItings wer ban'd in the yung Komunist stait. Zamyatin's influens was Wells' siens fiktions. He was even nown by his kuntry-men as 'The English-man'.

We was the direkt influens on Huxley's Brave New World, as wel as George Orwell's 1984. Orwell pik'd up Zamyatin's mesaj of total kontrol and konformity and dwel'd on wat a dryry unkreativ bisnes it wud be. But Zamyatin's bwk had a further mesaj, wich is the uon that Huxley pik'd-up. Human society may not nyd to be fors'd to konform lIk a hIv, bekaus a hIv may be mayd hony swyt. That is to say, a ruling klas may sanktion plesurs as indusments to konformity.

A striking diferens betwyn We and 1984 is the tw dystopias' atitud to sex. In the former, sex is a rekreation, provided-for in the kupls' hIv-lIk sels. In the later, sex is a stolen plesur, sot away from the al-sying television eys of Big Brother. A shaby puritanism, and the syking to deny it, sym'd so much a part of Orwell's own karakter. This is testify'd by rItings on his forays into the lower midl klas ( Keep The Aspidistra Flying ), working klas ( The Road To Wigan Pier ), or unemploy'd and drifters ( Down And Out In Paris And London ).

Brave New World ( 1932 ) develops Zamyatin's thym of hedonism as an instrument of social kontrol. Freud's stres on the importans of child sexuality bekoms a pretext for the open enkurajment of its expresion in play.
The movys hav byn super-syded by 'the fylys', wich antisipat virtual reality. This givs a fantasy, rather than a reality, of kontrol. Even self-kontrol is lost, wen the hedonist sosiety ensurs the habit is form'd of never being abl to denI plesur.

The basik purpos of sosiety is perverted. Insted of individuals benefiting by ko-operation, wich maks sosiety worth-wIl, individuality is subverted. Pepl ar klon'd lIk sper parts for a social macyn, akording to an elit's prekonseptions of the gud sosiety. Huxley didnt just say pepl wer klon'd to fit into hIer or lower stations of lIf, as it plys'd our Lord to kal them to. ( In the brav nw world, Our Lord has bekom 'Our Ford', god of a mas produktion that inkluds human beings. )
Aldous Huxley givs a savy akount of jenetiks. But for his pwr ey-sIt, he wud hav byn a biolojist, lIk other faim'd sientists in his family. In fakt, about sixty yers after Brave New World, kloning of a mamal was achyv'd.

The toun of the satIr is rather bumptius. Koming from an intelektual aristokrasy, Aldous Huxley perhaps didnt apreciat the benefits to the mases of mas produktion, pionyr'd by Henry Ford. And the movys wer a brIt spot in the lIvs of milions in the Greit Depresion. Huxley reviw'd the first big 'talky', The Jazz Singer ( 1927 ). He shows-off his nolej of the development, or rather dejeneration, as he wud hav it, of opera into popular musik.

This is shurly rong. No uon period of komposing is mayd up soly of master-pyses. The aristokratik patronaj of the arts shurly had its ful komplement of derivativ work, no longer around to hold up to ridikul. Amerika has its own twentieth sentury klasikal repertoir of popular musik. The yunger Huxley was a krytur of the blasť twentys, determin'd not to be impres'd by this entertainment revolution. Yet his reviw betrays a supres'd exItment from sying his first talky.

Pionyring Amerikan popular kultur and teknolojy deservs a gud word. But Brave New World remains profetik against Western hedonist sosiety and its adiktions, destruktiv of self-kontrol and the entIr wel-being of the planet. Huxley was among the first to bemoun the hydles plunder of natural resorses. And it fyturs in the plot of Island.


I am tempted into a digresion, hyr. Wen the yer 1984 ariv'd, the British PrIm Minister, of the tIm, Margaret Thatcher anouns'd Orwell was rong. Yet in the last days, lyding up to the 2001 elektion, she, of al pepl, warn'd of an 'elektiv diktatorship', if Labor won the land-slId that the pols wer predikting.

I'm not saying she was rong. 'The prIs of liberty is eternal vijilans.' Erly in the campain, Labor lyder Tony Blair said, in an interviw with David Frost: If he had to chws, he wud rather be kal'd a diktator than wyk.
Of kors, Orwell didnt myn his warning against the power of the party to aplI to any uon yer in partikular. He said the only ryson, he kal'd his novel 1984, was that it was 1948, wen he rowt it, and he just chanj'd round the for and the eit.

And 1984 is lIk 1948, in bomb'd-out, run-down and auster Britain, stil not rekover'd from world war tw. Ystern Europ also endur'd that war and its diktatorial uon-party staits twk much longer to emerj from its trauma and end the Kold War. So, 1984 sym'd profetik against war diktatorship, bekaus portraying its blyk inseption.


Totalitarian and hedonist konditioning.

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Zamyatin's SF klasik is not just a warning against kolektivism, as the tItl wud sujest. Orwell only pik'd-up haf its mesaj to elaborat on. In behaviorist sykolojy, ther ar tw tIps of konditioning. Uon is Pavlovian or klasikal konditioning. This is the uon that straps a dog so it kan not mov and is only the pasiv reseptor of stimuli, that it has to lern to diskriminat. The dog lerns a kondition'd respons, such as to salivat at just the signal that diner is about to be serv'd.

If the sykolojikal tests of diskrimination bekom tu hard or fIn, the helples animal eventualy sufers a nervus brek-down. This kan okur by exes inhibition, lIk the traid union 'go-slow' in protest at manajment's trytment. Britain, with its lak of industrial demokrasy or worker partisipation, was a fertil sors of this tIp of respons. The other posibility is exes exitation or revolt. The pwr dog kan only go barking mad, to show how imposibly it has byn tryted.

Obviusly, this is an extrym model of totalitarianism and mIt be kal'd totalitarian konditioning. But ther is an other kind of konditioning, kal'd Skinnerian konditioning or operant or instrumental konditioning. This orijinated not in Pavlov's Rusia but Skinner's Amerika. The watch-words of thys tw tIps of konditioning mIt be 'obediens' and 'plesur'. It is said that Rusia's kurent president, Vladimir Putin wants to instil obediens.

Konditioning, Amerikan stIl, has its prototIp in the laboratory rat in a box, hw lerns by chans that if a lever is pres'd, fwd wil be relys'd. Frequently, this lyds to obsesiv behavior. The wy byst kyps frantikly presing for mor fwd. This ( lIk sex ) ofers the maximum of plesur for the minimum of efort. Our rat has byn kondition'd to bekom a hedonist: we hav hedonist konditioning, as it mIt be kal'd.

UnlIk Pavlov's dogs, Skinner's rats and pijons ar fry to mov about but only in the narow konfins of a box or the laboratory. They ar fry only to pursu ther plesurs. LIk totalitarian konditioning, hedonist konditioning has its frustrations. If the lever dosnt produs any mor fwd rewards, chimpanzys behaiv lIk pepl hw kik a vending macyn, wen it dosnt suply the fwd or drink for ther koin. They kyp kiking, mor out of raij than with any houp left of results.


Ethology.

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Som sykolojists themselvs revolted from the frustrations of the laboratory konditioning of animals, with its restriktion on lerning ther behavior in the wild. Hens, the siens of ethology was founded to study animals in ther natural habitat. A founding father was Konrad Lorenz. He was an Austrian, held as a prisoner of war after the sekond world war. In his sel, he, the sykolojist found himself observ'd by rats.

Zwolojist and former zw kustodian ( I almost said in-mait ) Desmond Morris gav a gud survey of the subjekt in his run-away best-seler, wich he had the sens to kal The Naked Ape. I dont think he mention'd the naim, ethology.

Skinner sertainly belyv'd in his own sykolojy, rIting a bwk 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity' to propos it not only for laboratory rats but for human sosiety. I admit I hav not red this bwk ( nor hav I red the spyches of Mr Putin, it is fair to say ). Also, I hav forgon Skinner's popular fiktion of the gud sosiety, 'Waldo 2'. Our kolej tutor said it wasnt much gud. And I'm shur Ralph Waldo Emerson wud hav disaprov'd of his naim being taken in vain.

Never the less, I regret shuning the oportunity to sy B F Skinner's traveling sirkus. Yes, I no this student did the politikly korekt thing, by staying away, and I dont derId that. But som-tIms a man is beter than his filosofy. ( This was tru of our own kolej Behaviorist. ) And I mIt hav lern'd som-thing -- and not by konditioning!

During the Kold War betwyn the super-powers, the rivalry of the USSR and the USA extended to ther respektiv Pavlovian and Skinnerian sykolojists. Wen a sumit was held, the Soviets and the Amerikans ych had ther own komemorativ monuments. Dovs, being symbolik of pys, wer train'd Pavlov-stIl onto the Soviet statu and Skinner-stIl onto the Amerikan statu.

Som-uon in the Soviet kamp had the idea of konditioning al the Amerikan pijons onto the Soviet monolith, as if they had a monopoly of pysfulnes. But that also gav the Amerikan monument a monopoly of klenlines.

Totalitarian and hedonist forms of Behavioral konditioning wer lIk satIrs on ther respektiv sosietys. But the ethologists found kaus to reflekt on the super-power rivalry, from ther studys of the ways animals dyl with ther konflikts. Niko Tinbergen's hering guls, kaut betwen fIt and flIt, hav to spend ther nervus enerjy on symingly irelevant aktivitys, lIk simulated nest-bilding. This involvs violent aktivity such as puling at gras or violent peking the ground. The ajitated gul wud even pul at the gI rop of Tinbergen's hId. 'The result was rather like an earthquake.' Tinbergen also koments:

Man, who keeps himself "under control" ( or at any rate prides himself that he does ) can suspend action more or less, though only with considerable strain.

Lorenz dym'd the spas ras a displasment aktivity, wer-by agresiv rivalry was re-direkted into houpfuly harmles chanels. Werner von Braun said his rokets wer aim'd in the rong direktion. He ment they shud hav byn aim'd for jurnys into spas. ( They aim for the stars -- but hit London, as was sarkastikly said of the biopik of the Jerman V1 and V2 roket inventor. )

Lorenz, On Aggression, said that animals wich hav grown powerful wepons, in ther klaws or byks, also hav powerful inhibitions against yusing them damajingly against ther own kind. Human beings ar not powerfuly arm'd kryturs, so they hav not evolv'd thys inhibitions. Ther suden ability, to yus twls as wepons, has not given human evolution tIm enuf to develop korespondingly strong hereditary restraints against ther yus. Fais to fais relations ar som-thing of a restraint but wepons hav bekom long-ranj and impersonal, so that yusing them is not impyded so efektivly as sying klosly the efekt of uon's agresion on an other person.


The revival of instinkt sykolojy.

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Rivalry extended into the lIf sienses themselvs. BesIds the super-power rivalrys betwyn behaviorists, the behaviorists dismis'd the etholojists, for not working under laboratory-kontrol'd konditions -- the saim argument they yus'd against syko-analysis. But, of kors, som of the oldest siens, inkluding astronomy, is not kondukted in a laboratory. Ethology, lIk astronomy, is esentialy observational. A for-runer of ethology was instinkt sykolojy.

Sigmund Freud was a kontemporary of the instinkt skwl. He emfasis'd sex as an instinkt, observing its influens, especialy on family behavior from erly childhud. His trytment of mental disorders is to mak patients awer that ther behavior is govern'd by instinktiv or primeval sexual motivs. Ther siviliz'd valus may forbid such animality. Patients, hw dont want to relinquish tabu'd wishes may myrly forbid themselvs to rekognis them in themselvs.

Hens, the konflikt has not byn remov'd and the forbiden desirs remain aktiv for mischyf, manifesting themselvs in nurotik behavior.
Such personality disorders ar personal rituals, wich symbolikly go thru the motions of the repres'd wishes, as an emotional relys. The syko-analyst's experiens may interpret thys emotional expresions and taktfuly try to get the patient to kom to terms with ther ryl myning.

Thys ritual nuroses kompar to the 'displasment aktivitys' observ'd by etholojists. Indyd, Lorenz was influens'd by Freud's thot, such as on the basis of agresion in sexual kompetition.

Instinkt sykolojy went out of fashon bekaus pionyring sykolojists tended to kompIl arbitrary lists of instinkts.
Never the less, I'v notis'd a shok re-aktion, in myself, wen a pys of hos has twisted lIk a lIv snayk or som-thing tumbl-out lIk an ataking insekt or spider. Ther was no tIm to think wat thys things mIt be and ther was no past experiens of poisonus spiders or snaiks to kondition me to such instant re-aktions. So, it syms rysonabl to supos that ther is an inherited fyr of thys danjerus kryturs, that programs an instant and posibly lIf-saving respons. Such a jenetik program kud hav byn subjekt to natural selektion.

LIkwIs, dogs chais after som-uon runing, wich aktivats ther instinkt for the chais. Men and women sym to hav a hunting instinkt. If yu ar runing in the stryt, yu may notis pasers-by automatikly mak a mov to blok yor way. They instinktivly re-akt to prey to be kaut. This obviusly wud hav survival valu, that mIt be naturaly selekted. Thos with gud maners chek themselvs from kausing an obstruktion.

Thos hw ar a prey to ther instinkts may not rylIs the ryl ryson they kaus trubl. The urbanis'd hunter may rationalis his behavior as justify'd against som-uon he sys as an enemy or moral inferior. Altho women do apyr to sher the obstruktiv re-aktion to a runer, a hunting instinkt apyrs to be far les strong in them, jujing by how much les waring they ar. Ther admiration, of the martial qualitys in ther men-folk, is an other mater.

Behaviorism was a perhaps exesiv re-aktion against instinkt sykolojy, belyving most behavior traits kud be explain'd as konditioning by the environment. An exeption is Hans Eysenck, a Pavlovian behaviorist, hw belyvs heredity a much mor important determinant than environment.
The traditional behaviorist belyv'd the diferens in human beings is myrly that som tak longer than others to lern. This was taken to ridikulus extrems in the idea of chimps produsing chans master-pyses on tIp-rIters, given the tIm. It is reminisent of Dean Swift's satir on sientists in Gulliver's Travels.

Swift's influens kan be trais'd on Wells' erly sientifik romanses. And Huxley's SF novel, After Many A Summer, folows-up Swift's portrayal of lonjevity, in uon of the later storys of the Travels.

Noam Chomsky kritisis'd the behaviorist theory of languaj that infants wer kondition'd to lern languaj. Children do mak random sounds that hapen to be the fonyms of sertain languajes. R G Collingwood uons remark'd he had herd a baby, that kudnt talk, trIing out a sound pekuliar to Arabik. The behaviorists pointed out that the parents ar lIkly to reward a baby with atention, wen it hapens to mak sounds myningful to ther partikular languaj.

Mor-over, children dont lern languaj by being tutor'd in the finer points of syntax. The lerning is larjly unkonsius. Never the less, the wild boy, found in the wuds, hw has never herd human spych, kan not lern to talk. So it syms that ther is an in-born languaj-lerning program that is part of human development, and must be aktivated in childhood or it wil not operat. The implikation is that ther are universal ruls of languaj, som-how kouded in the jyns, wich enabl every child to pik up any human languaj they ar expos'd to.


Richard Lung.



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