Development theories sought to explain how desirable changes were best achieved in order to benefit the society effectively. The theorist mainly based their arguments on social scientific disciplines, as the approaches preferred. Historical development theory can be discussed under pre-modern development, modernism and post-modernism. In the pre-modern world, very little development was registered, and the society could be portrayed to have been mostly stagnant. Humans took no interest in learning new ideas, advancing in technology or even trying to understand the planet they inhabited. Those who had some kind of expertise were very proud of them, and gave their best in trying to achieve the highest attainable quality, and thus practiced good craftsmanship. The environmental conditions were mainly stable and the understanding of nature and life it held was mainly left to God. It is also believed that man talked directly to God, and in case he wanted to understand anything, he would ask God to explain it. Rulers were seen to have been chosen by God himself as part of his will on earth, and were counted as a blessing.
Looking at the old literature such as the Bible and Homer, Jaynes realized that reading and being conscious of oneself actually originated at around this time. This can be illustrated when God and angels talked directly to people in the Old Testament. After this period, God stopped talking to man directly, and this created a situation whereby man had to solve his own problems, as well as make personal decisions. Jaynes further elaborated that the pre-modern people heard voices that directed them on what to do but little did they know that those were actually their own voices. When they later realized this, it led to the birth of modern school of thought. The environmental conditions had started getting degraded, and therefore, if man had to exist he had to act fast. This led to the discovery of literacy and consciousness. Major calamities, such as famine and earthquakes, struck the land and people were left in very pathetic conditions. They were thus compelled to understand the natural phenomena apart from just knowing the basics of survival.
The birth of modernism was also marked by the period of Renaissance where new ways of doing things through technology emerged, and ideas were spread to everybody through printed works. Reading materials were given to anybody who was willing to obtain them. Books which had earlier been viewed as only for the rich could now be accessed by anybody, and there were mass production of these materials. Men started to understand the world and thus their knowledge helped the fill the deficit that was left by god. Science, therefore, emerged as a subset of philosophy since by this period technology was still at its very basics and had not been merged with science. Science mainly studied the world, as there were so many things to be discovered. Technology, on the other hand, dealt mainly with how things could be constructed effectively. Logical positivism, Cartesian philosophy and study of the truth were the major dominants of science, philosophy and politics. John Locke observed that despite man being born free and with natural rights still submitted to the government for protection. He questioned the divine rights of kings and who accorded them authority over other naturally free humans.
The idea of a free human was the foundation for the development of American revolution. Democracy also came up since it was argued that in every society, if given a chance, everything could be resolved through democracy. The inventions of the machines and further understanding of forces that affect various things, the attribution of everything to God and spirits started to diminish and eventually disappeared. Man started to search for his essence. This essence was later known as the ‘self’, according to Jaynes. This was the dominant issue in both the phenomenology and psychodynamic theories. The self was viewed as a more relaxed, it was a force that always gave the individual an urge to carry on, and thus was the originator of being creative and generating new ideas.
Machines were manufactured in this period and several others invented, interchangeable parts were also brought into the market. However, even at this period, science and technology remained distant from each other. Their merger started to be evident after marked developments had been made in the chemical and electrical fields. In the individual’s fields of expertise, the focus moved from that of craftsmanship and search of pride in high quality to that of increase in efficiency in production, production in high quantities and estrangement. This led to higher standards of living, and hence several people moved from the rural areas to the urban areas to seek employment. Companies also started to look for the appropriate technology to use in their line of production.
After World War II, women finally cracked into the job market due to relatively few and weaker men affected by the war. They also had their democratic rights recognized, such as the right to vote. Advanced technology in the field of medicine enabled women to have a reduced time for nursing a newly born baby, and have a say in the size of a family they wanted. The Libertarian school of thought focused mainly on the rights of a single individual and ensured that such an individual had all his rights intact. Individualism also came up and was a major turning point in the era of modernism, but this school of thought was also seen as the major critic of modernism. It saw modernism as very empty and emphasized mainly on greed among employers, and saw that it had very little positive contents.
In the postmodern world, the priority in production changed, and people no longer paid attention to efficiency and mass production but mainly to some fragmented interests in subgroups of the society which included feminism, ecology and multiculturalism. People mainly focused on how the world could be made into a better place to live in and to make some progress in development. After World War I and the interwar period, there were marked changes in the society. As the people grappled in poverty, movements and revolts, the development strategy almost failed, since the war had degraded the environment, and hence the ‘self’ had to transform from being a relaxed and satisfied one to a more active and dynamic one. People started to abandon cultural myths and rape was no longer considered a power-related crime, but a crime of passion. Multiculturalists also argued that the black Americans suffered more from neglect in that era than they did during the slavery period in the previous era. They further pointed out that, if the black Americans had to address their grievances, they had to embrace the new forms of technology. After this period, there emerged the libertarians and communitarians who held completely different beliefs. The libertarians held the rights of individuals, while communitarians argued for the rights of the whole community and their importance, as had been the case in the pre-modern world.
We can view some of the theorists whose contributions reshaped this era and produced great impacts on how people viewed science and philosophy in general. B. F. Skinner, who was a psychologist, advanced the Radical Behaviorism theory. Many people of that period did not expect much from this development theory, but ever since his death, other psychologists have come to realize how useful it was. The historical approach used by these individuals have helped link this theory to post modernistic philosophy, and they seem to be very compatible despite the differences in historical origin. Skinner’s arguments were seen by many as epitomizing the logical positivist movement, while others viewed him as a copy theorist and thus indistinguishable from other behaviorists. He argued that all that people thought about was very dynamic, and that even those who were carrying out experiments always think in the direction that this interaction with the environment dictates. Skinner was very different from other behaviorists, and Brinker and Jaynes pointed out that he had actually been studying how Moscovivi’s virtual worlds were being constructed, which was a rare thing among behaviorists.
Skinner, therefore, contributed a lot towards thinking psychologically in the 20th century; his works are historically recognized where he dwelt on anthropology and behavioral biology. This theory is also considered to be the only theory that is wide spread, and over the years it has demonstrated effectiveness in the development of technologies and bringing changes to the community. The theory, however, has seriously been misunderstood and has been misrepresented by its critics. However, it is still being used by other theories in post modern psychology. Ethnographers had a more objective approach to science, and did not go native but just offered critique and insight. Those who bought into their arguments felt that scientists made statements that created problems for historical elucidation. They also kept a low profile over the activities they carried out to be able to produce research reports. The scientists had also been observed to alter the contents and the manner they made statements while they spoke to outsiders. This made it difficult for the outsiders to have enough knowledge to conduct their own researches, and this created a lot of problems. Sciences were divided into four main views, such as Formism, Organicism, Mechanism, and Contextualism.
The formistic theories mostly concentrated on similarities and are, therefore, able to hold as a form of truth correspondence. Organicism, on the other hand, highlighted the changes in an organism as it developed over a given period of time. They mainly used the organism in its development stages as the model around which the theory was structured. The theory mainly concentrated on what happened to an average organism in a given environments, also considered to be average. They held that the truth was constructed by the organism and had changes as molded by the environment. The mechanistic theories held on the logics of the positive model and viewed the world as a big machine. It tries to give accounts that are complete with no temporal gaps and it sees science as an approximation of the truth. This theory is structured in such a manner so as to answer the question, ‘how?’ In contrast, the contextual theory sought to answer the question, ‘what?’ occurs and ‘when.’ It, therefore, focuses on an organism and its impact on the environment over a given period of time (Arch, Caldwell, Ray Spurr, 2006).
It is worth noting that the theories are very unique, and no single one is better than the other, since they all have a specific problem to solve. The theories, therefore, complemented each other in trying to understand the whole system of the universe. The contextual theory employs pragmatic truth criteria. Skinner in particular argued that a given statement would only be true if it was able to help the listener to respond to the situation in an effective way. Functional linguistics mainly focuses on the meaning of something; it holds that learning of a language is more reliant on how children socially interact, as well as to some concepts that are mainly inborn. Many people, therefore, started to work in this field, and Skinner’s theory had to be oriented towards this new development. His model has recently emerged as a major force in understanding of verbal behavior. “The Analysis of Verbal Behavior” has provided a lot of information that can be used to understand communication problems in children and adolescents. Radical behaviorism, on the other hand, has not been easily adopted by psychologists, since it has a distinct dialect and is, therefore, often contrasting to the well-known verbal behavior. It tries to describe what someone does as a factor of the environment that he belongs to. However, the dominant community understanding had been that an event or someone’s activity was dependent on his behavior. This, therefore, led to psychologists preferring the verbal behavior to the radical behaviorism, since they were conflicting.
This was proven by the fact that a child who had not yet learned to speak would establish an eye contact when in need of help. This, therefore, shows communication by behavior, which is then reinforced by another person. The relativistic form of the post-modern era can thus be confirmed, and therefore has been accepted and backed up by many theorists following successful experiments on behavior. Skinner’s account helps in the study of the social constructions by providing an insight into the limitations of knowledge that is socially constructed, since an individual cannot be convinced that such an action did not occur. It also helps provide more information on how to predict and control social constructions. The theory helps create a link between the modern and humanistic theories, as it caters for the emergence of a stable self who was still active socially. It has also been several peoples’ viewpoint, including Guerin, that Skinner’s definition of verbal behavior constituted more than just speaking and writing. The other actions include gestures, self-talk, music, literal imagination and art.
In conclusion, behaviorism has had very great impact on the field of philosophy and is continuing to register growth. Despite the various critiques advancing their dissatisfaction with the principles of this theory, it still is the most widely accepted theory among many psychologists. There are very significant similarities between this theory and the postmodern position, even though several scholars have greatly misunderstood the academic folklore that surrounds it. That is why it is quite essential to consider all the theories when analyzing growth and development of childhood or adolescence.