Article ID: CBB858807649

‘Ghastly Marionettes’ and the Political Metaphysics of Cognitive Liberalism: Anti-Behaviourism, Language, and the Origins of Totalitarianism (2020)


While behaviourist psychology had proven its worth to the US military during the Second World War, the 1950s saw behaviourism increasingly associated with a Cold War discourse of ‘totalitarianism’. This article considers the argument made in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism on totalitarianism as a form of behaviourist control. By connecting Arendt’s Cold War anti-behaviourism both to its discursive antecedents in a Progressive-era critique of industrial labour, and to contemporaneous attacks on behaviourism, this paper aims to answer two interlocking questions: Why was behaviourism overtaken by cognitivism as the dominant theoretical orientation of psychologists in the 1960s, and what role did the concept of language play in this shift?

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Article Stefanos Geroulanos; Leif Weatherby (2020) Cybernetics and the Human Sciences. History of the Human Sciences (pp. 3-11). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Rutherford, Alexandra
Simbirski, Brian
Verhaegh, Sander
Dobroczyński, Bartłomiej
Nakachi, Mie
Gruszka, Aleksandra
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
History of Psychology
History of the Human Sciences
Journal of the History of Ideas
Ethics, Place and Environment
Archiv für Sozialgeschichte
University of Toronto Press
University of Minnesota Press
Oxford University Press
Hill & Wang
University of Pittsburgh
Authoritarianism; totalitarianism
Technology and politics
Skinner, Burrhus Frederic
Arendt, Hannah
Gallup, Gordon
Heinrich, Władysław
Miller, George Armitage
Stevens, Stanley Smith
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
19th century
United States
Soviet Union
United States. Army
Harvard University

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