Photo credit: Dave Hogg, courtesy of EveryStockPhoto.
It used to be a joke that every college freshperson wanted to be a psychology major. That is the age when people are trying, generally with very limited success, to figure out themselves and other people.
El Cabrero fit that pattern back in the previous geological age. I had somehow stumbled on to Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche in high school and imagined that psychology classes would be that cool.
Would that it were so.
To my horror, I seemed to have stumbled in to a den of behaviorists. If there is one ideology I like even less than Stalinism or economic libertarianism, it's gotta be behaviorism.
I would probably have a lot less trouble learning that a good friend was a cannibal than I would to learn that he or she was a fan of B. F. Skinner. Actually, that happened recently and I'm still trying to deal with it.
Clarification: by behaviorism, I don't mean attempting to study behavior in measurable ways. That's fine. I mean metaphysical behaviorism, where people pretend that there's no such thing as conscious or unconscious mental activity and that we're all balls of stimulus response conditioning.
I remember some professors ridiculing the idea of consciousness, mind, and similar ideas and thinking "These people are idiots."
It seems to me the height of loopiness for beings who are only aware of the world through their own consciousness to deny that it exists. And I think there's something evil about reductionism, the attempt to reduce the complexity of human life to any simple deterministic factor, whether it's conditioning, genes, economics, "rational choice," etc. We're way too messy for that. Sometimes I wish we weren't.
As Dmitri Karamazov said in Dostoevsky's classic novel,
Yes, man is broad, too broad. I’d have him narrower. The devil knows what to make of it!
That was the end of my psych major.
Fortunately, it appears that the discipline has recovered from this mental disorder, thanks in part to research from many quarters, including brain science, evolution, ethology, etc., not to mention common sense.
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GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED