Four Great Outrages against Humanity: Challenges from Scientific Materialism over the Past Five Centuries
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
Dr. Claudio Violato
Professor and Director, Department of Community Health Sciences