Sobre o conceito de comportamento em Skinner e em Merleau-Ponty
Pompermaier, Henrique Mesquita
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Although it is the basis for propositions of a "science of behavior," B. F. Skinner’s work is marked by different indications regarding the concept of behavior, not always convergent and concise. Such plurality ends up leading to a framework of interpretations and philosophical commitments not only distinct but often incompatibles, which seems to reflect difficulties for researchers and practitioners in dealing with this notion, as central as unclear. Dealing with the construction of interpretations about different concepts and notions in radical behaviorism, researchers have established articulations and confrontations between Skinner's work and other authors of distinct traditions and areas. Among these studies, there are indications of the potentiality of the debate between analytic-behavioral approach and European existential phenomenology perspective, as developed in M. Merleau-Ponty’s work. Like Skinner’s understanding, the French philosopher presents strong criticisms of the idealism and dualism established by physicalist and mentalistic proposals, also indicating behavior as object of study to the psychological discipline. Based on the study and systematization of the concept of behavior in the initial works of Merleau-Ponty, we highlight problematic aspects present in the formulations of the notion of behavior developed by the so-called "laboratory psychologies", as well as some positive characteristics that an alternative proposal should present. Taking the Skinnerian text properly, we find that the possibility of dialogue between Skinner's behaviorism and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology is directly related to the philosophical principles that underlie the understanding of behavior in the different moments of Skinner's work. In this direction, we point out that the radical behaviorist proposal does not advance in relation to classical behaviorism, on the possibility of taking the behavior as a phenomenon in its own right, by developing its comprehension in a reflex structure, committed to mechanism, atomism and causal thought. Alternatively, understood in an operant structure based on selectionistic principles, behavior itself can sustain a proper field of study, as proposed by Merleau-Ponty through the notion of form. Considering these distinctions, and seeking to maintain consistency with a selectionist approach, we propose the incorporation of ambiguity and indetermination as constitutive aspects of behavioral phenomenon, by its comprehensions in terms of three interrelated meanings: occurrence, state and process. We find implicated on this approach a relational and imanetist ontology, in which behavior, as the primordial entity of the system, is understood as the relation between organism and environment, a configuration that is irreducible to the functioning of any one of its parts, but which establishes their existence at the same time as it is accomplished by the articulation of these elements.