I was talking to a friend last night and we had a very long discussion that covered many subjects: suffering, mental health, meritocracy, plutocracy, movies, noir, gnosticism… and whatever else. One of the first things he brought up was a book he read recently. The book is Alfie Kohn‘s Punished by Rewards which, as I understand from my friend’s explanation, is about the problems of the reward/punishment methodology of behaviorism. It sounded interesting in particular as the author supposedly was analyzing the scientifc research and found it didn’t support behaviorism’s effectiveness. I’ll have to look into this further as I don’t understand enough at present to come to a conclusion. Instead, I’ll share this short video of Alfie Kohn speaking about the failure of punishment.
My point for blogging about it other than it being interesting is that I came across some similar ideas from a field other than psychology. I was perusing a blog simply titled Theologies which is written by someone going by the name Marika. I read the post Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Christian ethics. I’ve come across Bonhoeffer’s name many times over the years, but have never read any of his books. Anyways, below is some of Marika’s post:
The first rule of Christian ethics, according to Bonhoeffer, is that there is no such thing as Christian ethics. The knowledge of good and evil is a result of the fall, and the return to God means abandoning all our knowledge of good and evil. […] The knowledge of good and evil means that we start to see ourselves not in terms of our relationship to God, but in terms of our capacity for good and evil. […] Instead of trusting God to show us what sort of people we ought to be, we set ourselves up as our own judges. Shame is the sign of this disconnection from God: it is our recognition that we are estranged from our origin.