Non-Drive-Reductive Hedonism and the Physiological Psychology of Inspiration

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15 (2):114-128 (2008)
Major strands of the history of scientific psychology proposed less mechanistic explanations of behavior than the “series of billiard ball reactions” that Ellis ascribes to them. I tease apart psychological systems based on hedonism and those based on stimulus-response mechanisms-and then tease apart basic hedonism and drive-reduction hedonism, to layout psychological and neuroscientific foundations for the active, dynamic, cognitive, emotive, and "spiritual" dynamics of human nature which Ellis calls us to affirm. I trace these distinctions through the drive-reduction psychoanalysis of Freud, the drive-reduction behaviorism of Hull, and the non-drive-reductive hedonistic system of Skinner. Then I trace the recent neuroscience of reward and punishment circuits and putative narcissistic and altruistic circuits, to conclude that Behaviorism and Neuroscience support broad hedonistic but major non-drive-reduction motivational systems. I affirm Ellis’ contention that emotions are basically “active”, although with some caveats and questions
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DOI 10.5840/pcw200815223
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