Micro Essay—Taking Responsibility—New

SummaryA successful business executive is a forecaster first—purchasing, production, marketing, pricing and organizing all follow. —Peter Bernstein


Quotation—Many anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists have used their expert knowledge to prove that man is free, purposeful and responsible. This escape route is slowly being closed as evidence of the predictability of human behavior is discovered. Any personal exemption from complete determinism of behavior is being revoked as scientific analysis progresses. —BF Skinner



Bad Behaviorism. Behaviorism is the psychological discipline that supports experimental procedures to study observable behavior. It dominated psychology for the first half of the 20th century and is still in play today. According to Donald Palmer “Behaviorism is the theory that only observable, objective features of human activities need to be studied to provide an adequate scientific accounting of behavior.” The a priori belief of behaviorism points toward a complete determinism of behavior that forces us to stay within the normal curve.


Good Existentialism. According to the Microsoft Encarta “Existentialism is the philosophical movement emphasizing individual existence, freedom and choice.” It is the product of a long history of great thinkers that goes all the way back to Socrates and includes Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Camus and Sartre. Existentialism is focused on the workings of consciousness and becoming self-aware. It concerns itself with freedom, responsibility, subjective choice and human emotions. The Superman has total freedom and total responsibility while the Everyman has no freedom and no responsibility—other than to behave normally.


Bad Faith. With existentialism individuals are free to make choices and cannot escape this freedom no matter the circumstances. Bad faith is defined as the flight from freedom and responsibility. One flees freedom and responsibility by claiming that it is just the way things are and they cannot be changed. Authenticity or good faith is where one’s true nature, spirit and character exist in reality despite overwhelming social pressure to behave otherwise. I have revealed my authenticity by shinning light on the friendly face of the evil behaviorism.


Ethics and Morality. Ethics and morality guide us in making decisions regarding right and wrong. Ethics refer to rules of conduct provided by an external source while morality pertains to internal, subjective choice. Behaviorism aligns with ethics while existentialism aligns with morality. Doctors have a code of ethics and are ethical within that frame of reference. By not choosing existentialism the default cognitive model falls to behaviorism. I contend doctors are immoral based on the sheer fact that they have effectively chosen behaviorism over existentialism.


The Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath says doctors must do no harm. Doctors are typically charged with the healthcare of one individual at a time. But what if doctors were to concern themselves with an aggregation of individuals? I contend that behaviorism harms individuals in society by denying us salvation. Behaviorism was a cute, little, baby elephant at first—but now fills the entire room. It is suffocating us and needs to be led out.


Doctors and Responsibility. When I asked my psychiatrist about the responsibility of doctors for behaviorism he responded by saying “Why are doctors responsible? Why not lawyers or accountants?” My response is that behaviorism is a medical problem that suppresses the soul. He has fled the scene in bad faith by refusing to take responsibility. Moving to existentialism represents a major paradigm shift for all of us. I am asking doctors to take a leap of faith by getting my book Existentialism Now to doctors and high school students.


Conclusion. On 14 September 2003 I advised Dr John Naylor in writing that Dr David Gibbs was “Hysterically blind to evidence contradicting behaviorism.” Later I gave Dr Gibbs a copy of the 1958 book Irrational Man:

A Study in Existential Philosophy by William Barrett and also challenged him to debate behaviorism versus existentialism. I have performed my due diligence in bringing this delinquency to light. The ball is in the doctor’s court to finally take responsibility for fazing out behaviorism and embracing existentialism now.


There can be no other truth to take off from this—I think, therefore I exist—i.e. the Cartesian cogito. There we have the absolute truth of consciousness becoming aware of itself. Every theory which takes man out of the moment in which he becomes aware of himself is, at its very beginning, a theory which confounds the truth, for outside the Cartesian cogito, all views are only probable, and a doctrine of probability which is not bound to a truth dissolves into thin air. In order to describe the probable, you must have a firm hold on the true. Therefore, before there can be any truth whatsoever, there must be an absolute truth; and this one is easily arrived at; it is on everyone’s doorstep; it is a matter of grasping it directly.

—Jean-Paul Sartre


Let our students of philosophy enter the world with no favor shown them; they shall compete with men of brawn and men of cunning; in the mart of strife they shall learn from the book of life itself; they shall hurt their fingers and scratch their philosophic shins on the crude realities of the world; they shall earn their bread and butter by the sweat of their brows. This last and sharpest test shall go on ruthlessly for fifteen long years. Those that survive, scarred and fifty, sobered and self-reliant, shorn of scholastic vanity by the merciless friction of life, and armed now with all the wisdom that tradition and experience, culture and conflict, can cooperate to give. These men at last shall become our leaders.

—Will Durant


In order that we may truly exist, rather than remain in the sphere of the things-seen and things-used, we must quit the inauthentic sphere of existence. Ordinarily, due to our own laziness and the pressure of society, we remain in an everyday world, where we are not really in contact with ourselves. This everyday world is what Heidegger calls the domain of the Everyman. In this domain of Everyman, we are not conscious of our existence. And an awareness of ourselves is only attainable by traversing certain experiences like that of anguish, which puts us in the presence of the background of Nothingness—from which Being erupts.

—Jean Wahl