This fictional outline of a modern utopia has been a center of controversy ever since its publication in 1948. Set in the United States, it pictures a society in which human problems are solved by a scientific technology of human conduct.
What people are saying - Write a review
A genius idea for a functional utopia. Also, an easy and accessible read.
While this is not a novel in the conventional sense, I did find the archtypes represented by the main characters quite compelling. Steve and Mary are normal working class people. Roger and Barbara are a notch or two higher, but not members of the elite. Roger has a social conscious, Barbara does not. Burris is the man of science and probably represents the perspective of Skinner himself. Castle is the social science academic, concerned with ideals rather than real life. In one sense, he is the most utopian of the lot. Frazier is the social reformer who does not have patience with either the careful procedures of science or the ideals of academia. To put him into Skinner's youth, he is the labor organizer, the anarchist, the marxist, the revolutionary.
Skinner paints Walden Two as a real accomplished fact, most likely to confound the debates of academia. It is stunning that this work was published in 1948. It anticipates the recently emerged psychology of happiness and in some ways behavioral economics and even some of the recent advances in brain science. Skinner has a keen eye for the shortcomings of conventional government, economics and the academy. But I think he remained the scientist to the end in his decision to have Burris forego membership at Walden Two.