Too Much Science in Walden Two by B.F. Skinner

1357 Words6 Pages
Too Much Science?

In the 1930s, Europe began to fall under the shadow of socialism with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the Communist Revolution in Russia, and the Fascist uprising in Italy. Americans tried to ignore this growing crisis in Europe for as long as possible; even some in the United Kingdom were not unduly concerned with this sudden change. Some people, including authors Aldous Huxley, were startled and put their fears down on paper. Huxley’s Brave New World shows an unsettling optimistic front that covers the disturbing reality of a futuristic socialist world. After the war ended, more novels about the socialism appeared, George Orwell’s 1984 and B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two as a few examples, though they are complete opposites on the views of socialism presented.

In Walden Two, the tone is very positive. The head of the community, a man named T.E. Frazier, explains every aspect of the thriving communal settlement to a group of curious enquirers. The party includes an old colleague of Frazier’s, a psychology professor named Burris, a philosophy professor named Augustine Castle, and two veteran soldiers from World War Two named Steve Jamnik and Rogers, along with their girlfriends Mary Grove and Barbara Macklin, respectively. Frazier walks them through all the workings of the Walden Two community, from the agricultural processes, sheep herding techniques, and work schedules to the moral code, education system, and personal relationships. He says that one of the problems with the United States government is that it does not use the scientific process to find out what the people of the nation need and want. He claims that everything runs so smoothly in Walden Two because the community is...

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...t provider for people of all ages and races, with equality of the sexes and gentle behavioral engineering that encourages art and science. Huxley’s Brave New World, on the other hand, shows how drastically wrong genetic and behavioral sciences could go if allowed to do so. Both novels show how communal living solves numerous social problems, though Walden Two has a much more peaceful setting instead of the mock one created by Huxley. The question both books bring up is how far the human race should allow science to go before we become carbon copies of each other or even completely inhuman. But then, how far is too far?

Works Cited

Skinner, B.F. Walden Two. United States of America: Prentice Hall, 1976.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. [c1932]; Huxley.com, 1998. 16 September 2004. < http://www.huxley.net/bnw/>.

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