B.F. Skinner, in his novel Walden Two, presents many arguments about how he
foresees a positive change in the world through manipulation of behavior on the personal
level. Sigmund Freud, in his works, specifically Civilization and Its Discontents, presents
his view of human nature and what is innately problematic about it. Both Freud and
Skinner agree that human behavior is the result of outside factors that severely hinder the
concept of free will. Skinner believes that humans, in the correct environment, can live
happily, while Freud understands that humans are destined to live in 'some degree of
anguish or discontent.'
Skinner uses the ideal setting of Walden Two to illustrate his ideas of how human
behavior should be 'formed.' Much of Skinner's argument on how to eliminate what he
knows as problematic rests on his prescription of dismissing the notion of individual
freedom. Skinner does not only say that the concept of individual freedom is a farce.
takes it a step further and states that the search for it is where society has gone wrong. He
wants no part in the quest for individual freedom. If we give up this illusion, says Skinner,
we can condition everyone to act in acceptable ways.
Skinner has a specific prescription for creating this utopian society. He declares
that all that is necessary is to change the conditions which surround man. 'Give me the
specifications, and I'll give you the man' is his simple yet remarkable message. He claims
that by controlling what a person's environment is, it is possible to craft a man to behave in
any way. Skinner wants to use this notion to create a world without pain and suffering.
In Walden Two, he systematically describes what conditions are necessary to create a
world of happiness.