Instead of calling such behavior subjective it was regarded as the field of behavior that was accessible only to the individual himself.
One could observe his own movements, his own organs of articulation, where other persons could not normally observe them. Certain fields were accessible to the individual alone, but the observation was not different in kind; the difference lay only in the degree of accessibility of others to certain observations. One could be set up in a room by himself and observe something that no one else could observe. What a man observed in the room would be his own experience.
Now, in this way something goes on in the throat or the body of the individual which no one else can observe. There are, of course, scientific instruments that can be attached to the throat or the body to reveal the tendency toward movement.
There are some movements that are easily observable and others which can be detected only by the individual himself, but there is no qualitative difference in the two cases. It is simply recognized that the apparatus of observation is one that has various degrees of success. That, in brief, is the point of view of Watson's behavioristic psychology. It aims to observe conduct as it takes place, and to utilize that conduct to explain the experience of the individual without bringing in the observation of an inner experience, a consciousness as such.
There was another attack on consciousness, that of William James in his article entitled, "Does 'Consciousness' Exist? The furniture, for instance, may be considered from the standpoint of the person who bought it and used it, from the point of view of its color values which attach to it in the minds of the persons who observe them, its aesthetic value, its economic value, its traditional value.
All of these we can speak of in terms of psychology; they will be put into relationship with the experience of the individual. One man puts one value upon it and another gives it another value.
But the same objects can be regarded as physical parts of a physical room. What James insisted upon was that the two cases differ only in an arrangement of certain contents in different series.
The furniture, the walls, the house itself, belong to one historical series. We speak of the house as having been built, of the furniture as having been made. We put the house and furniture into another series when one comes in and assesses these objects from the point of view of his own experience. He is talking about the same chair, but the chair is for him now a matter of certain contours, certain colors, taken from his own experience. It involves the experience of the individual. Now one can take a cross-section of both of these two orders so that at a certain point there is a meeting of the two series.
The statement in terms of consciousness simply means the recognition that the room lies not only in the historical series but also in the experience of the individual. There has been of late in philosophy a growing recognition of the importance of James's insistence that a great deal has been placed in consciousness that must be returned to the so-called objective world. Psychology itself cannot very well be made a study of the field of consciousness alone; it is necessarily a study of a more extensive field.
It is, however, that science which does make use of introspection, in the sense that it looks within the experience of the individual for phenomena not dealt with in any other sciences—phenomena to which only the individual himself has experiential access. That which belongs experientially to the individual qua individual, and is accessible to him alone, is certainly included within the field of psychology, whatever else is or is not thus included.
This is our best clue in attempting to isolate the field of psychology.
The psychological datum is best defined, therefore, in terms of accessibility. That which is accessible, in the experience of the individual, only to the individual himself, is peculiarly psychological. I want to point out, however, that even when we come to the discussion of such "inner" experience, we can approach it from the point of view of the behaviorist, provided that we do not too narrowly conceive this point of view.
What one must insist upon is that objectively observable behavior finds expression within the individual, not in the sense of being in another world, a subjective world, but in the sense of being within his organism.
Something of this behavior appears in what we may term "attitudes," the beginnings of acts. Now, if we come back to such attitudes we find them giving rise to all sorts of responses. The telescope in the hands of a novice is not a telescope in the sense that it is to those on top of Mount Wilson. If we want to trace the responses of the astronomer, we have to go back into his central nervous system, back to a whole series of neurons; and we find something there that answers to the exact way in which the astronomer approaches the instrument under certain conditions.
That is the beginning of the act; it is a part of the act. The external act which we do observe is a part of the process which has started within; the values which we say the instrument has are values through the relationship of the object to the person who has that sort of attitude.
If a person did not have that particular nervous system, the instrument would be of no value. It would not be a telescope. In both versions of behaviorism certain characteristics which things have and certain experiences which individuals have can be stated as occurrences inside of an act.
But part of the act lies within the organism and only comes to expression later; it is that side of behavior which I think Watson has passed over. There is a field within the act itself which is not external, but which belongs to the act, and there are characteristics of that inner organic conduct which do reveal themselves in our own attitudes, especially those connected with speech. Now, if our behavioristic point of view takes these attitudes into account we find that it can very well cover the field of psychology.
In any case, this approach is one of particular importance because it is able to deal with the field of communication in a way which neither Watson nor the introspectionist can do.
We want to approach language not from the standpoint of inner meanings to be expressed, but in its larger context of co-operation in the group taking place by means of signals and gestures. Meaning appears within that process. Our behaviorism is a social behaviorism. Social psychology studies the activity or behavior of the individual as it lies within the social process; the behavior of an individual can be understood only in terms of the behavior of the whole social group of which he is a member, since his individual acts are involved in larger, social acts which go beyond himself and which implicate the other members of that group.
We are not, in social psychology, building up the behavior of the social group in terms of the behavior of the separate individuals composing it; rather, we are starting out with a given social whole of complex group activity, into which we analyze as elements the behavior of each of the separate individuals composing it.
We attempt, that is, to explain the conduct of the individual in terms of the organized conduct of the social group, rather than to account for the organized conduct of the social group in terms of the conduct of the separate individuals belonging to it. For social psychology, the whole society is prior to the part the individual , not the part to the whole; and the part is explained in terms of the whole, not the whole in terms of the part or parts.
The social act is not explained by building it up out of stimulus plus response; it must be taken as a dynamic whole—as something going on—no part of which can be considered or understood by itself—a complex organic process implied by each individual stimulus and response involved in it.
In social psychology we get at the social process from the inside as well as from the outside. Social psychology is behavioristic in the sense of starting off with an observable activity—the dynamic, on-going social process, and the social acts which are its component elements—to be studied and analyzed scientifically. But it is not behavioristic in the sense of ignoring the inner experience of the individual—the inner phase of that process or activity.
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