Walden Two (Trade Book)
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Walden Two (Trade Book)

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  3,365 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Walden Two is a utopian novel by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner. It describes a 1000 person planned rural community in which the members are happy & productively creative. The community is governed by Managers, six Planners & supports a few Scientists. It promotes arts & leisure, requiring only four hours of work per member daily. Members subscribe to a C...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published March 1st 1962 by Macmillan (NY) (first published 1948)
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Melissa
I have to say that I find it funny how often the user reviews call Walden Two "boring." I get as bored reading a philosophical treatise as the next person, but Walden Two is actually easy and engaging to read. It's even funny in the little ways the narrator mocks the hero Fraser as well as the daft intellectual Castle. Skinner has this great way of describing when conversation is awkward, or when people misunderstand each other in little ways, or when a person's ego is showing. I mean, ok, it's...more
Avery
Apr 30, 2008 Avery rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People without attention disorders.
Recommended to Avery by: Eric Neibauer
Shelves: half-read
Walden Two by B.F. Skinner is one of those books that you, at the same time, love and hate. Personally, I thought that the idea was a ridiculously interesting concept in and of itself, and Skinner made a valiant attempt to implement it in a fictional novel, but ended up with a pile of literary shit powdered with intellectual diamond dust. I’m sure that both parts of my analogy can easily be explained; Skinner is a Psychologist and not a creative writer. I have to say, I think I liked the book bu...more
Kaitlynn
This book has two target audiences, really, and the quality varies strongly depending on where you fall.

As a fiction reader, this book falls short in so many, many ways. Characters are merely loudspeakers for the author, going so far as to be named after him. Most characters, while having distinct viewpoints and personalities, are one-dimensional. There is no discernible plot whatsoever. And I mean none. The plot is the same as a virtual tour on an apartment website. As this is a novel of a utop...more
Jonathan
My psychology professor informed us that Skinner at first intended to be a writer. I think the world is blessed in many ways that he changed his mind. My review of the novel (one star) is due to judging it as a work of literature, which is how he wrote it. It sucks. What he should have done was put forth a pamphlet of about 30 pages called "The Walden Two Manifesto" and described the construction, regulation, behavioral principals, etc, that make up the community. Lots of very interesting, progr...more
Stephen
2.0 to 2.5 stars. Better as a review of Skinner's scientific theories than as an actual novel, this "utopian" novel deals with an experimental community based on solving problems via application of the scientific method. It has been a while since I read this and I may re-read this at some point to see if my opinion has changed.
Melissa Robinson
Walden Two earns four stars not for its literary value (it's not terribly well written or compelling only as a story), but for the thought provoking social science concepts it raises. Intellectual stimulation earns it a place on my great books list.

The concept of behavioral engineering is both repulsive and intriguing to me. The line between behavioral engineering and brainwashing is just too fine. I have enough Professor Castle in me to balk at the ideas that freedom is nonexistent and democrac...more
Bruce
Dec 18, 2008 Bruce rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: utopians, role playing game fans
When I think of stories about utopian societies -- Brave New World, 1984, The Time Machine, and Gattaca for example -- I really think of a genre that sends up a dystopia as a means of satire. It's like a subgenre of mystery, with a well-worn formula. The protagonist introduces us to an 'ideal' world whose darker implications are only later revealed (the mystery lies in the discovery of what these implications really are). In the end, the protagonist has either escaped, been co-opted or killed, o...more
Sam Nordli
A fictional outline of Skinner's ideal utopian society. The characters are all very flat, and it is obvious that Skinner is using the story only as a vehicle to present his theories of social reform. Nonetheless, those ideas in themselves were interesting enough to hold my attention despite the mediocre writing. It is considered controversial because it espouses 'behavioral engineering' in a non-democratic societal arrangement. However, Skinner's arguments and examples are convincing and thought...more
Joanne
Thoreau would be appalled. Thoreau, of course, conducted an actual experiment based on his personal experience living at Walden. Skinner does the opposite: he conducts a mental experiment with a fictional group suggesting an alternative model for society.

The timing of the book is interesting, various ideas about behaviourism had been developing since the turn of the 20th century. Following WWII, the US military-industrial complex took a keen interest in behaviour modification. There are a numbe...more
Megan
One time, I threw this book out a window. That should probably tell you how much I detest it. It was required reading for a class, and I fully acknowledge that this "review" is basically just venting the resentment and bafflement that still lingers.

Part of my ire is that Walden Two is presented as a novel (albeit blandly written with no care for depth of characters, emotions, or plot), and man, do I as a reader detest poorly-written fiction that's ultimately trying to argue something. (Well-writ...more
Erik Graff
Feb 26, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Alan Jones
Shelves: literature
I don't much like B.F. Skinner's radical behaviorism, but I enjoyed his novel, Walden Two, assigned by Professor Alan Jones for his seminar, "Utopia and Society", at Grinnell College. My appreciation may have been exaggerated by having just read More's Utopia and Zamyatin's We, neither of which were easy reading, More because of my ignorance of his times, Zamyatin because of the turgidity of the translation. Compared to them, Skinner was a breeze, his book a pleasure.

Behaviorism began in Germany...more
Paulette
As a certified behavior analyst, I was excited to discover that Skinner wrote one book of fiction. I picked it up at my local library book sale and found multiple copies. I ended up buying the one that had the name inside the jacket of the woman who bought from us the last house I lived in--weird!

The society uses behavioral principles to teach people to not have jealousy, to have self control to delay gratification and accept slightly annoying circumstances. The goals is "escape from the petty e...more
ddjiii
Walden Two was assigned to me by a professor who apparently thought Skinner's extremely half-baked notions of what would be a great society to live in had some value to us. I guess they did, because I had a great time writing as furiously sarcastic a review as I could (which I unfortunately can't find), but throughout the book I was astonished that a guy who clearly must have some brains, and who had devoted his life to the study of how people behave, could be so clueless about how they actually...more
Charles
As a novel, this is not a wonderfully written book. But as a fictional expansion on B. F. Skinner's idea of a utopian society, it is extremely interesting and extremely important. Skinner lays out his idea of a world in which all behavior is guided by clearly stated reinforcement.

Skinner makes the point in his writings, that we are all completely controlled by our world of reinforcement and punishment, but that we like to imagine that we have free will. This books lays out that thinking in a no...more
Nathan Titus
an appalling vision of a utopia. Unlike most utopia visions, however, this one is completely honest. It's not about making a "perfect society;" it's about controlling the members. The perfect society is both an effect of that cause and a a tactic towards that goal. Create a society in which everyone is happy, and people will behave for the good of that society. their behavior will be engineered from day 1. and by day 1 I mean since birth; infants are cared for by the community, and their physica...more
Beth
This book was amazing. I was completely seduced by the idea of behavioral engineering and I was ready to move into Walden Two after finishing it! The discussion of free will at the end was fun. I learned lots afterwards reading critiques of skinner's ideas by chomsky and others.

While I doubt the ideas would work in practice, the way of life presented in this story is what techonology SHOULD be used for: giving us more free time to pursue the things we want!
Gerard Pairó vinardell
Es increíblemente aburrido, está horriblemente mal escrito y su filosofía subyacente es una porquería. Pero hay algo a favor de Skinner y es que es muy listo. En unos párrafos del libro le hace guiños al marxismo y al progresismo en general, y los aludidos caen como panchitos. La prueba es que el libro es más querido en foros progresistas que en psicológicos.
Aaron Slack
Brave New World Lite. Walden Two is a novel about a hypothetical scientifically-planned utopian community based upon Skinner's research. The overall premise is that most of society's problems stem from people being unhappy, alcoholism to cite an example. Have society train it's members to be happy, and the problems like divorce and drug-abuse go away mostly by themselves. How is this training accomplished? Power is placed in the hands of a few highly-trained sociologists who engineer the communi...more
Jessica La La La La La!
It's a classic, and I have a thing for utopia/dystopian novels. Skinner is a psychologist, not a writer, so read this one for its ideas not it's beautiful writing.
___________

“A world which has been made beautiful and exciting by artists, composers, writers, and performers is as important for survival as one which satisfies biological needs.”
___________

“The mob rushes in where individuals fear to tread, and Führers deceive themselves as to their support.” (37)
___________

A wealthy class to provide...more
Bria
I would love it for the characters alone. They're both caricatures and realistic portrayals of the varied and complex and inconsistent behavior and beliefs of a person. The implication that the three main characters - Frazier, Burris, and Castle - are all embodiments of Skinner's own self: Burrhus Frederic Skinner, Burrhus means "fortification" or "Castle", Burris clearly not far from Burrhus; Frazier may not be so obvious or clear, but it at least sounds similar enough to Frederic - makes it al...more
Kelsey
I haven't read this book since taking that Honors Psychology 2 class my Junior year of high school, which was quite a while back. But I recently found it at a yard sale and had to pick it up. It's one of the best books I've read about behavioral psychology in a long time.

The first thing I remember enjoying about this book was that it didn't read like at textbook, but a Utopian, science fiction-y novel. (I myself enjoy a good Utopian book, so this was in my ballpark). Then as we got into the typ...more
Judy
Nov 30, 2008 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Judy by: can't recall
Shelves: desert-island
This was one of those very impactful stories I read during college (not as an assignment). Skinner creates a modern Utopia, in this story first published in 1948. The story is told as a visitor goes to the "commune" (I don't know how else to describe it), and he is shown around and various aspects of the society are described, discussed, observed, explained, and experienced. It was very fascinating to me as a young adult, to read a story in which many of our negative and violent behaviors are am...more
Recynd
Community or the individual: which is of greater import to human happiness? This is the central question being asked at the heart of Skinner's "Walden Two". Other topics addressed in the novel include the value (and necessity) of free will, social engineering, political systems and governance, ethics, as well as many others.

Do you believe, as many others (including myself) do, Churchill's admonition that "those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it"? Using one of the main characters...more
Joje
This book has been waiting a long time for me to finally read it. I don't know if I bought it new or used, but it fell in pieces as I was reading. Sure, it's dated (esp. "scientific" is ubiquitous, but now a suspicious word for social situations in such a context!), but so am I (born the same year, you see), but I found myself following Prof. Burris in his thoughts fairly closely. It is too close to what I have always wanted to live like, but never had the opportunity, or like Rodge, was pulled...more
Froggy
In order to make Psychology into a more objective science behaviourism was born, the objective study of observable behaviours rather than mental states not subject to scrutiny. B.F. Skinner was strong supporter.

Skinner as did other behaviourists and behaviourism itself gathered heavy criticism for leaving out what was thought by others to be a vital part of the human condition, that which goes on in the mind, however he was also known to be a great humanitarian, with enlightened approaches to...more
Peter Dunn
Literary utopias and dystopias have always fascinated me. I had not realised that the renowned US American psychologist and behaviourist, B.F. Skinner had penned one until someone mentioned it in an aside in a recent email.

So is it great literature? No not really. Is it an easy and accessible read? Very much so.

It is an incredibly earnest work. So much so that it includes an utterly unnecessary last chapter just to make sure that you have not misinterpreted the conclusion Skinner wants and you...more
Loretta
Awesome concept!! I gave it 4 stars not for its literary value but for the book's exploration of the utopian ideal based on careful behavior modification. Each new concept controlled by the character Fraser brought up questions of the reader's beliefs...culminating with the major overall question of free will. Skinner explored society from all angles and tried to show how all decisions can be controlled by setting up the right environment.
Terri Lynn
This is so boring and so awful, I am ashamed to give it a star at all even when the star means "I didn't like it." This is supposed to be a fictional outline of a modern utopia but really it comes across as Skinner talking to himself to hear himself speak and isn't a novel so much as it is a monologue. Why not dispense with pretending to write a novel and just create a small nonfiction book full of outlines and lists of what Skinner believes is the perfect society?

Many of the ideas are somewhat...more
Cratylus
i only remember how the waldenites avoided spilling coffee
May
Walden two is one of those books that could only have come out of the discourse of its time. It's interesting to consider what concepts of freedom and happiness actually entail. I like that the book forces the reader to consider what norms one lives by and whether those norms really make sense or are a construct of society.

In a time when unemployment inches upwards and little buffer is provided despite times of surplus, it's interesting to think of Skinner's world and what it might be like if ev...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Future of the Science of Behavior at Walden Two 1 18 Oct 26, 2009 01:14PM  
Walden Two and the Outside World, Freedom vs Determinism 1 26 Oct 26, 2009 01:13PM  
Politics in Walden Two 1 13 Oct 26, 2009 01:12PM  
The Good Life at Walden Two 1 5 Oct 26, 2009 01:11PM  
Marriage and Child-Bearing at Walden Two 1 10 Oct 26, 2009 01:10PM  
Behavioral Engineering of Emotions at Walden Two 1 4 Oct 26, 2009 01:09PM  
The Nursery at Walden Two 1 3 Oct 26, 2009 01:07PM  
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Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a highly influential American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental resea...more
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Beyond Freedom and Dignity Science and Human Behavior About Behaviorism Verbal Behavior The Behavior of Organisms

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“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.” 38 likes
“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.” 28 likes
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