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Topic subjectRE: a few more questions for murph
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=21933&mesg_id=21994
21994, RE: a few more questions for murph
Posted by murph25, Thu Aug-24-00 02:53 PM
I'll try to answer these:

>Have you ever done anything that
>you regret? Have you
>ever done anything that you
>knew at the time you
>were doing it was not
>the right thing to do?

Yes, I have made mistakes. But, generally, the regret and realization that it was "wrong" came about after the fact. Almost as if "regret" were a residue of the behavior that caused it. Or that this emotion of "regret" was created after the fact as a way for me to understand or conceptualize my behavior.

> (By the "right" thing,
>I don't mean something that
>is wrong by anyone's standards
>but your own). If
>so, how does that fit
>into the concept of behavior
>as the totality of self?

I don't think it matters that much. I'm not suggesting that we have some absolute control over our behaviors. On the contrary, I think a lot of what we do is done for various reasons. Now, if I hold a set of moral values that say stealing is wrong, but I make my living as a burglar, what does that moral value mean? Is it a part of the "self"? If so, how do you know its there? I think the real moral values of an individual are not those they articulate to themselves or in their minds, but how they behave.

>Also, is thought part of behavior?
> In other words, if
>I weigh my actions in
>advance, or if I consider
>them afterwards, does that fold
>into what I "do" as
>my self? Or is
>thought separate from the action
>that is self?

BF Skinner argued that all thought was just behavior that we can't observe. That thinking is just talking without actually engaging the vocal chords, etc. There is some evidence that the same parts of our brains are used to "think" something as to "say" something, so it isn't entirely far-fetched. But, I stop short of agreeing with him. I think thought is quite a bit more complicated than language. In fact, it is that complexity that makes me question whether a person's "thoughts" can be meaningfully expressed by language. I mean, when somebody says "what are you thinking about" can you ever really answer that accurately? I wouldn't go so far as to say thinking is "separate" from behavior, but I think I understand more from observing a person's behavior than I ever could from asking them what they think.

>Would it be along the lines
>of your thinking to say
>that "behavior expresses the self"
>rather than "behavior is the

Yes, behavior expresses the self. I would take it another step and also say "behavior is the self", as well. That's radical behaviorism. It isn't the most widely held psychological or philosophical viewpoint these days, but I cling to it for some reason.

>If not, what
>does it mean if I
>act a certain way at
>work but a different way
>at home and another way
>at a club and another
>way when I visit my

Your environment affects your behavior. A rat can learn to push one lever when there is a red light on, but push another lever when there is a blue light on. The environment is a cue for a different set of reinforcement contingencies. The behavior that is rewarded at a club may be very different from what is rewarded when you visit Mom and Dad.

>Are these many
>different selves? Or do
>we sort of average them
>out to find out the
>"true" self?

We are all of these "selves", and behave in all of these ways. That's what makes us interesting.

>Alternatively, if
>"behavior expresses the self" is
>relatively accurate, what is being
>expressed? Is anything timeless
>-- by which I don't
>necessarily mean eternal, but existing
>outside the confines of time
>and change?

I think I touched on this in my response to the other questions. Our behavior comes about as a result of a unique intersection of nature and nurture. We are what we experience (or do) in our lifetime, and by evolution and heredity, we are defined by human behavior (and animal behavior) reaching back millions of years.

I accept time and change as fairly immutable scientific principles. I am not big on the spiritual or mystical explanations - I am more of a scientist, and as such I MUST assume the existence of time. Most cosmologies (spiritual and scientific) see change as central to our universe, so I don't see how the "self" could be any different.