Answers to B:CP Preface Study Questions

[From Fred Nickols (2013.07.05.0614 EDT)]

  1. Who is the audience for this preface?

Bill suggests that a particular kind of scientist has much to learn from the book so perhaps he was targeting scientists. The content of the book makes it quite clear that he wasn’t targeting your average layperson. It’s way too technical for most of them. The content of the book suggests an audience of well-educated people with a strong math and science flavor who are also very interested in human behavior.

  1. What do you see as the distinction between mechanism and humanism?

I think mechanism focuses on behavior as something to be controlled and humanism focuses on behavior as a means whereby the behaving person achieves selected ends.

  1. What point is Powers trying to make in the discussion of mechanism versus humanism?

I think he’s trying to point out that the truth, whatever that is, contains elements of both and that his theory brings them together.

  1. In the discussion of mechanism versus humanism the mechanistic approach is treated as being equivalent to behaviorism (“… there is mechanism in behavior – but it is not the mechanism the behaviorists have in mind”). Since the “cognitive revolution” against behavior was in full force at the time B:CP was first published (1973) does the focus on behaviorism give the impression that the theory ignores current developments in psychology?

I don’t know. However, it has always seemed to me that Bill was usually taking dead aim at behaviorism.

  1. What do you make of the discussion of the “Soul”, “Atman”, “Awareness”? What is being foreshadowed?

I don’t know.

  1. What is the point of saying in this Preface that “the theory nowhere predicts how a particular person will react to a particular event”? Can you think of examples of theories that do make such predictions?

I think Bill was saying that the theory is one of how we behave, not what we do. I don’t know any theories that predict specific behaviors in specific circumstances.

  1. Similarly, what is the point of saying the theory is not “concerned with relating behavior to antecedent events”? Again, can you think of theories that are concerned with doing this?

I think he was making it clear that stimuli as a causal factor aren’t part of the theory/model. I suppose behaviorism is concerned with stimuli but it also pays as much or more attention to consequences.

  1. What do you think Powers means when he says that the model is “nearly devoid of specific behavioral content”?

Again, I think he was laying out a model/theory of how we behave, not what we do in this or that situation. That, I think, is why “The Test” is necessary – to identify “specific behavioral content.”

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

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