David Galloway's Reviews > Walden Two

Walden Two by B.F. Skinner
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May 01, 11

it was amazing
Read in May, 2011

I just read Walden Two for the fourth or fifth time, and it is curious how this thin not-terribly-well-written book of social criticism and behavioral engineering has grown with me. I first read it as an idealistic 19-year-old and promptly visited a commune for two weeks. I spent a good chunk of my twenties studying intentional communities and creating fictional communities in my head, all in one way or another influenced by Walden Two. As I've aged I find that the increasing responsibilities of family life and work have tempered my idealistic desires into a tighter focus. I no longer dream of labor credits and methods to make people get along. Now I dream of land of my own to improve and create life and eventually to pass to my heirs. But there will always be a part of me that longs to take a bus to Walden Two and drink tea out of a brandy snifter.

For those of you unfamiliar with the book, Walden Two is a philosophical novel written by the behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner. It is his vision of how a practical utopia could work. The protagonist of the novel is a psychology professor who visits with a former student just returned home from WWII. The student asks the professor why can't men get along and tells him of a community mentioned in a paper called Walden Two. The professor learns that the creator of the community is a former college acquaintance, and shortly the professor, the former student, and a few others go to visit the community.

While I am quite fond of the book, I do disagree with several of the conclusions, particularly those regarding childcare and religion. Nevertheless there are many ideas I would love to see society implement. If you are the type of person to daydream about how you might go about improving society, you should read Walden Two. You'd get a kick out of it.
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