Four Great Outrages against Humanity: Challenges from Scientific Materialism over the Past Five Centuries

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In the present paper it is argued that the radical behaviorism of B.F. Skinner reflects the fourth major triumph of scientific materialism in human history. While scientific materialism has its roots in the work of Democritus and Aristotle, it did not play a significant role in explanations of the universe until the Renaissance. For more than 1500 years, Plato's dualism - in various forms including Christian theology - prevailed. The work of Copernicus and Galileo was the first great triumph of scientific materialism over mysticism and dualism and therefore represents the first great "outrage" against humanity. The second and third great outrages are the theory of natural selection and psychoanalytic theory attributed to Darwin and Freud respectively. B.F. Skinner eliminated mental phenomena as explanatory modes in human behaviour and thus produced the fourth great outrage. Each of these great ideas encountered fierce resistance because they were blows to humanity's megalomania and forced a rethinking of humanity's nature and role in the universe.


Keywords: Scientific Materialism, Evolution, Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Claudio Violato

Professor and Director, Department of Community Health Sciences
Medical Education and Research Unit
Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Claudio Violato, PhD, a psychologist, is Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He has published 10 books on topics ranging from adolescent psychology to psychometrics and assessment. In addition, he has published more than 100 articles in refereed journals such as the British Medical Journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Pediatrics and the Journal of Psychology and Academic Medicine. Dr. Violato teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in medicine, research design and statistics, and the history and philosophy of science. He supervises the research of MD, MSc, PhD students as well as postdoctoral fellows.

Ref: I08P0734