“The damned behaviorist” versus French phenomenologists: Pierre Naville and the French indigenization of Watson's behaviorism.

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Serval ID
serval:BIB_E2AB2ACDB025
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
“The damned behaviorist” versus French phenomenologists: Pierre Naville and the French indigenization of Watson's behaviorism.
Journal
History of Psychology
Author(s)
Amouroux R., Zaslawski N.
ISSN
1939-0610
1093-4510
Publication state
Published
Issued date
02/2020
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Volume
23
Number
1
Pages
77-98
Language
english
Abstract
What do we know about the history of John Broadus Watson’s behaviorism outside of its American context of production? In this article, using the French example, we propose a study of some of the actors and debates that structured this history. Strangely enough, it was not a “classic” experimental psychologist, but Pierre Naville (1904–1993), a former surrealist, Marxist philosopher, and sociologist, who can be identified as the initial promoter of Watson’s ideas in France. However, despite Naville’s unwavering commitment to behaviorism, his weak position in the French intellectual community, combined with his idiosyncratic view of Watson’s work, led him to embody, as he once described himself, the figure of “the damned behaviorist.” Indeed, when Naville was unsuccessfully trying to introduce behaviorism into France, alternative theories defended by philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty explicitly condemned Watson’s theory and met with rapid and major success. Both existentialism and phenomenology were more in line than behaviorism with what could be called the “French national narrative” of the immediate postwar. After the humiliation of the occupation by the Nazis, the French audience was especially critical of any deterministic view of behavior that could be seen as a justification for collaboration. By contrast, Sartre’s ideas about absolute freedom and Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to preserve subjectivity were far more acceptable at the time.
Keywords
behaviorism, France, phenomenology, existentialism, Pierre Naville
Pubmed
Web of science
Funding(s)
Swiss National Science Foundation
Create date
07/05/2019 19:20
Last modification date
06/08/2020 5:23
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