On the other hand, if a person has only extrinsic worth, then people are interchangeable elements within a social system. There can only be contractual relationships between people. Let us say you stop at a grocery store to get ingredients to cook dinner for your mate. Your relationship with your grocer is contractual. It does not really matter to you that this particular person sells you food and to him that this particular customer buys it. You take this food home and cook it for your mate. Your relationship to your mate would appear to be qualitatively different from your relationship to your grocer. Neither of you are interchangeable. It is important to you that you cook the food for this particular person and to him/her that it is you who is doing so.|
However, the behavioristic concept of the person implies that this relationship is also contractual. You simply present a longer and more complex shopping list and your mate retaliates with an equivalent list. I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine. This cynical view of human relationships is not some 1984ish vision of a dehumanized world but a necessary deduction from the behavioristic concept of the person. B. F. Skinner explicitly states this view in his book Verbal Behaviour [SKINNER]. There are two ways you can get things done - you can do it yourself (non-verbal behaviour) or you can ask someone else to do it for you (verbal behaviour). Verbal behaviour is defined as behaviour which gets things done through the mediation of other people. Other people are means to your ends.
The humanistic concept of the person implies that relationships are intrinsically intimate rather than basically contractual. Instead of viewing your relationship to your mate as an extended contractual relationship, it views your relationship to your grocer as an unrealized intimate relationship. The latter is based not so much on an implicit contract to exchange food and money but on a tacit understanding not to realize the full potential intimacy. You each respect that fact that the other can handle only so much intimacy - even if only because the other has only so much time.
The NSOA Project could benefit from a shift from behavioristic concept of the person to an interactionist concept of the person. Theory at the sociological level of analysis will be more accurate and practice based on this theory will be more effective. Consider even the mundane level of the website for NSOA. Plato's Academy can be resurrected in the virtual world as well as in the real world. If you build it, they will come. If you build it well, they will stay and they will come back. It is useful to visit www.new.school.of.athens.org to pick up the schedule for Athens 3. There is no reason to stay or to go back. I would have gone back in the interval between Athens 2 and Athens 3 to get news of the good folks I met at Athens 2, to see photos taken at Athens 2, to read papers written by those I met then. (I have three papers - one delivered at Cambridge University and two written for the conferences - and many photos that I would be glad to share.) The internet is effective because it is growing like an organism from the inside out. The success stories within the internet are sites based on user-provided content - Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube. You provide a place where the user can be active and interactive and let them supply the content.
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