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B.F. Skinner quotes (showing 1-30 of 61)

“We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.”
B.F. Skinner
“A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. ”
B.F. Skinner
“The only geniuses produced by the chaos of society are those who do something about it. Chaos breeds geniuses. It offers a man something to be a genius about.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.”
B.F. Skinner
“No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn't die out, it's wiped out.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Some of us learn control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”
B.F. Skinner, Contingencies Of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis
“A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.”
B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity
“What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement? Or vice versa.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“It is a surprising fact that those who object most violently to the manipulation of behaviour nevertheless make the most vigorous effort to manipulate minds.”
B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity
“A scientist may not be sure of the answer, but he's often sure he can find one. And that's a condition which is clearly not enjoyed by philosophy.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.”
B.F. Skinner
“...not everyone is willing to defend a position of 'not knowing.' There is no virtue in ignorance for its own sake.”
B.F. Skinner
“The majority of people don't want to plan. They want to be free of the responsibility of planning. What they ask for is merely some assurance that they will be decently provided for. The rest is a day-to-day enjoyment of life. That's the explanation for your Father Divines; people naturally flock to anyone they can trust for the necessities of life... They are the backbone of a community--solid, trust-worthy, essential.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The 'ologies' will tell you how its done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego.

Considering how long society has been at it, you'd expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Going out of style isn't a natural process, but a manipulated change which destroys the beauty of last year's dress in order to make it worthless.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
tags: trend
“The mob rushes in where individuals fear to tread.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“In the world at large we seldom vote for a principle or a given state of affairs. We vote for a man who pretends to believe in that principle or promises to achieve that state. We don't want a man, we want a condition of peace and plenty-- or, it may be, war and want-- but we must vote for a man.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Promising paradise or threatening hell-fire is, we assumed, generally admitted to be unproductive. It is based upon a fundamental fraud which, when discovered, turns the individual against society and nourishes the very thing it tries to stamp out. What Jesus offered in return of loving one's enemies was heaven on earth, better known as peace of mind.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
tags: jesus
“A piece of music is an experience to be taken by itself.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
tags: music
“But restraint is the only one sort of control, and absence of restraint isn't freedom. It's not control that's lacking when one feels 'free', but the objectionable control of force.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless.”
B.F. Skinner
“Democracy is the spawn of despotism. And like father, like son. Democracy is power and rule. It's not the will of the people, remember; it's the will of the majority.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“We do not choose survival as a value, it chooses us.”
B.F. Skinner
“Men build society and society builds men.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“Each of us has interests which conflict the interests of everybody else... 'everybody else' we call 'society'. It's a powerful opponent and it always wins. Oh, here and there an individual prevails for a while and gets what he wants. Sometimes he storms the culture of a society and changes it to his own advantage. But society wins in the long run, for it has the advantage of numbers and of age.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
“It is not a question of starting. The start has been made. It's a question of what's to be done from now on.”
B.F. Skinner, Walden Two

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