“This fictional outline of a modern utopia has been a center of controversy ever since its publication in 1948. Set in the United States, it pictures a society in which human problems are solved by a scientific technology of human conduct.”
So this book was assigned reading for a Psychology AP class in high school. I did not read it then. I head read the first two chapters, but then craziness happened and I was no longer in the class. I never forgot that I needed to read it. I found a copy at the Bay Area Free Book Exchange so I was really excited that I had no more excuses to not read this book.
The book follows a group of six people who go to visit a community known as Walden Two. There are two young couples and two professors. The couples are pretty interchangeable throughout the novel, but the professors are drastically different. The writing was not over the top amazing, it was a great explanation of what behavioral psychology in practice could look like if it was used to move towards perfection instead of just stopping behavior. B. F. Skinner is a god of psychology, but as an English major I would not have copied his papers. The book is fascinating not because of the writing, but because of the ideas that he presents as Frazier (the founder of Walden two).
The book raised so many moral questions. Is it ok to get ahead if it means hurting a group of people? How about only one? What if an entire community gets ahead by hurting a group? or just one? What are the implications of teaching children? How can we improve the school system? Is it possible to improve the school system or should we just overhaul it and create a new system?
This book raises more questions than it ever answers. It answers everything of course, but that in itself raises more questions. There were things that Skinner either did not expect for me to question (because he clearly wrote it for me) or he didn’t want to include them, like what about gay couples, transsexuals, the people who did not want to be part of the community but were raised in it (though Frazier thought it would be very rare that anyone would choose to leave Walden Two)?
By the end of the book, I wanted to join Walden Two. If it were a reality I would very happily join. My only issue would be having a dog. Walden Two doesn’t waste resources on pets. Though I may ask for the job of taking care of the herding dogs.
5 out of 5. I would highly recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.