The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 145–151 | Cite as

Verbal understanding: Integrating the conceptual analyses of Skinner, Ryle, and Wittgenstein

  • Ted Schoneberger
Article

Abstract

Gilbert Ryle’s (1949) and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1953; 1958; 1974/78) conceptual analyses of verbal understanding are presented. For Ryle, the term understanding signifies simultaneously an acquired disposition and a behavioral episode. For Wittgenstein, it signifies simultaneously a skill and a criterial behavior. Both argued that episodes of understanding comprise hetero-genious classes of behaviors, and that each member of such a class is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of understanding. Next, an approach integrating the analyses of Ryle and Wittgenstein with that of Skinner is presented. Lastly, it is argued that this integrated analysis adequately counters Parrott’s (1984) argument that understanding, for Skinner, is potential behavior and not an event.

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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ted Schoneberger
    • 1
  1. 1.California State UniversityStanislausUSA

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