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Vygotsky’s Critique Of Behaviorism

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Chapter Summary

Vygotsky claimed that if reflexology was to become a general science of behavior then its methods would have to merge with those of 'subjective psychology', that is, methods which hinge around talking to the experimental subject. He established this with a beautiful line of immanent critique: he quotes an eminent reflexologist to the effect that the sensitive reflexes should be used in experiments; the most sensitive reflex is the 'speech reflex', therefore reflexology should focus on the 'speech reflex', rather than poking pins into someone's foot and measuring how long it takes the person to withdraw it. Vygotsky was applying the method of immanent critique, the method of critical development of science worked out by Hegel and applied by Marx in the writing of "Capital".The essence of Behaviorism is the study of observable behavior to the exclusion of consciousness; it's unit of analysis is the reflex: S --> R.

Keywords: Behaviorism; Immanent Critique; reflexology; Vygotsky

10.1163/ej.9789004184060.i-344.23
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