The Place of Language Habits in a Behavioristic Explanation of Consciousness
John Fordyce Markey
University of Minnesota
Behaviorism represents a reaction against unscientific psychology. It has attempted to substitute real information for such concepts as consciousness, sensation, imagery, and similar terms. It decries the use of verbalism as a cover for ignorance. It has boldly questioned the fetishes of psychology. A so-called unique field of consciousness has been a particular battle-ground which the older psychologists and philosophers have held tenaciously. The difficulty is not so much that the behaviorist attempts to deny facts of experience, as that the behaviorist demands the privilege of bringing consciousness out of vitalistic philosophy into a mechanistic science. I suppose that this has been the general method of advance in scientific knowledge. The field of philosophy must give way with the enlargement of the realm of science. Behaviorism is an attempt to extend the realm of science to include the so-called unique facts of consciousness. If some have gone so far as to deny facts of experience, this is a mistake which does not represent the real scientific spirit of behaviorism.
As it is the purpose of this paper to show, at least partially, to what extent language habits and the language mechanisms may be used to give a behavioristic and mechanistic explanation of consciousness, it might be well to state some of the major attitudes or views in regard to behaviorism and consciousness.
There are those who advocate two distinct sciences, one
( 385) for the study of introspection and consciousness and the other for the study of behavior. S. W. Fernberger advocates this view. Bechterew holds that facts of consciousness may be treated separately from behavior. Some merely insist upon the value, or perhaps superior value, of behavior study. Others insist upon the rejection of introspection and facts of consciousness as unsuited to scientific treatment.
From the standpoint of behavior, the above views sidestep the issue in regard to consciousness. The view in which we are particularly interested faces the problem. The conception is that mind is behavior. This is Lashley's view. The supposedly unique facts of consciousness do not exist. Watson also holds this view. Under it may be placed such conceptions of behavior as a neuro-mechanistic explanation, on the one hand, and of behavior, in the sense of social conduct, on the other.
Lashley, Warren, and Watson, to a certain extent, might be cited as examples of those holding to a rather strict neuro-mechanistic explanation. Warren's proposition is that both the introspectionist and the behaviorist have a common ground in the neurological explanation. Consequently, he puts considerable emphasis upon this neurophysiological study, indicating that the two systems, introspection and behaviorism, are but two aspects of common phenomena . This has characteristics of the 'two-aspect' view. He suggests three methods: self observation, the neurological, and the behavioristic. Lashley would hardly be as charitable toward the introspectionist. He would define behavior in a broader sense as the science of the physiology of reaction to stimulation.
On the other hand, Weiss, for example, puts particular emphasis upon the 'biosocial' response or social conduct as the important aspect of behavior. Lashley suggests a compromise between the two extremes. However, it should be
( 386) stated that Weiss expresses the desirability of explaining finally in physical and chemical terms and Lashley's compromise would be decidedly on the side of the neurological.
With this brief statement as to the behavioristic positions and the viewpoint of this paper, I wish to go on to the consideration of the language habits as a type of behavior and an explanation of consciousness.
Lashley has made one of the best statements for consciousness as a type of behavior. He is definite in his stand on mental phenomena. He states that "Mind is behavior and nothing else." He indicates the importance of the language habits and the language mechanisms in consciousness. His statement of consciousness is, "The conception of consciousness here advanced is . . . that of a complex integration and succession of bodily activities which are closely related to or involve the verbal and gestural mechanisms and hence most frequently come to social expression."  And later he says, "The core of `conscious' integration is the verbogestural coordination." Watson also puts emphasis upon language habits in explaining imagery and consciousness. In order to understand the significance of the verbogestural coordinations, an explanation of the development of language habits is essential.
The language habit is complete when the word-stimulus or language symbol becomes a substitute for a bodily habit and an absent stimulus. The child begins with sounds that have an instinctive basis. The first vocal habits depend upon the language and sounds which surround him. A considerable number of these vocal habits may be established as conditioned reflexes or conditioned responses, the ‘parrot stage,' without the child having yet developed true language habits. So far there is no difference in this respect between the child and other animals; for example, the dog that barks or 'speaks' for his food. It is not until these vocal habits become associated with appropriate bodily habits or substi-
( 387) -tutable for them, that they begin to be language habits. The child begins to say 'box' when it is handed to him, `open box' when he opens it, 'mik' when he gets his bottle, et cetera. The vocal habits become a substitute for the actual bodily or mechanical process. This is the beginning of language habits. Then, when these vocal habits become also a substitute for an absent stimulus-object, the true language habit is developed. For example, the vocal habit 'box,' which is symbolic of or a substitute for the bodily habit of getting the box when the box is present, also becomes a substitute for or symbolic of the box when it is not at hand. The child can actually use the substitute stimulus 'box' in place of the box itself and 'pretend' or 'act' as if it were present. Of course, these processes go on together.
In the above explanation we have used vocal habits almost exclusively. This was for the purpose of making the explanation clearer. This should now be amplified by stating that language habits have a much larger range than vocal gestures and speech reactions. They include gestures of the hands, face, shoulders; signs; symbols of various kinds, and a large number of acts which fulfill the substitutive or symbolic character necessary in language. Our whole body comes to be part of the language mechanism. Watson believes, however, that language habits with their locus in the bodily musculature develop after the vocal language has been formed. Mead also holds a similar view. He states that "there is every reason to doubt" that consciousness of self would have arisen if man had not had the mechanism of talking to himself. More will be said later in regard to this speech mechanism. The statement is similar in intent to that of Watson. Consciousness, as used in some recent and earlier writings, carries this meaning of self-consciousness. It appears to have this meaning when it is used to describe characteristics which are supposed to be peculiar to man. We are not quite sure, however, that they
( 388) are peculiar to man, although this will hold in general, and still less sure that they will remain so.
It might be well to state that self-consciousness appears to be inherent in the substitutive character of language habits. The language habit is a substitute for or symbolic of processes in the individual. It is also a substitute for or symbolic of absent stimuli which have a relation to the individual. Thus, the language habit at once designates the `self' in contrast to `others.' Hence the concepts of `self' and `others' develop as a particular type of behavior. In other words, it appears that any organism which develops language habits gets thereby a `self' and an `other' consciousness; i.e. a `consciousness' of self and of others. The facts and processes would exist whether they were called `self' and `other' consciousness or by some other names. This might not seem to be the case with some early or more or less sporadic expressions of language habits, still the processes and facts are present. The above would hold true whether the absent stimulus is produced by a person or another object, although it is probable that language habits would not have been realized without the association of objects which were so similar that the individual could stimulate himself to make the same response that the object itself called out. Other individuals, the vocal mechanism, and the ear fulfil this requirement.
If the above explanation is correct, language habits mark one of the distinguishing features which differentiates man from the other animals. Not that it is a difference of kind particularly, but a difference of degree. This evidently accounts for Watson's stand that language habits represent the dividing line between man and other animals. He says, "So far no language habits have ever been found in animals, nor has any one succeeded in developing such habits in them." 
There are experiments, however, on delayed reaction which point to the possibility of the development of language habits in other animals. Most of these experiments are
( 389) questioned, however, as to their reliability and method, so that they cannot as yet be accepted. Still this question must remain open until there is further, careful) experimentation in this field.
Language habits are built up after the child has considerable manual organization. Language habits begin to be associated with most or practically all of the manual habits after the child is about three years of age, and these first language habits are explicit and get motor expression. If we assume that language is the basis of memory, this assumption would explain why the young child so seldom remembers the first two or three years of his life. Watson cites the case of Baby B, 2 years and 3 months of age, having no memory of the nursing bottle. Baby B acted as if it were a new bottle when it was presented. He states that there are two organizations without verbal parallels. (i) Organization in infancy. This would indicate that the Freudians are in error as to `memory' before about three years of age. The age, of course, would vary somewhat with different children. However, it appears that these manual habits without language organization could furnish a basis for `unconscious' habit twists and character formation. (2) Organization in the emotional field throughout life. Social life does not demand so much organization in this field. This may be the reason for so many of our emotional complexes, i.e. they do not have adequate expression and adaptation to the environment, there is little conscious organization of them. The later manual organization, i.e. after the first few years, has a parallel language organization and hence a `conscious' or thought organization. The case is illustrated, for example, by the person learning to play golf. He tells himself how to stand, how to hold the club, to watch the ball, etc. Some of this motor thought apparently becomes centrally con-
( 390) -nected and short-circuited, but just how this takes place we are not sure.
So far an attempt has been made to show briefly how the language habits develop in a behavioristic and mechanistic manner. Of course, the important point is, Can consciousness be identified with language habits? It should in general be apparent that language habits furnish the basis for imagery, reasoning, and thought. It would be better to say that they are the essence of thought, and in so far as thought is identified with consciousness and awareness, language habits would constitute consciousness and awareness. But the rest of the paper must deal with this question.
Silent talking, according to Watson, is thinking. We think only in words or word substitutes, that is, reflexes of the second or a higher order-gestures, etc. These are so closely bound up with the emotional and manual organization that "when the individual is thinking the whole of his bodily organization is at work."  However, Watson concludes that `thinking' is largely subvocal talking although it can occur without words . Thinking, then, depends almost wholly, if not altogether, upon motor expression, according to this view. This seems, however, to be an over-simplification in some ways and an over-complication in other ways. Lashley states that the weight of evidence seems definitely against the hypothesis which makes every action take motor expression at once and which looks upon thought as a succession of completed reflexes. This latter would be the case if we accepted fully Watson's hypothesis. For some thinking there is probably a central chain of neural activity which activates efferent neurons only when the latter are facilitated by tonic innervation. Miss Agnes Thorson of the University of Minnesota has also come to the conclusion from her studies on this subject that thinking may take place
( 391) without necessarily involving the tongue movements. It appears that we must accept the hypothesis, at least as a working basis, that in thinking there is some shunting across centrally, that motor activity may drop out for a time and thought be sustained by central shortcuts and connections. Of course, this does not do away with the mechanistic and behavioristic nature of thought. It means that our problem of observation is more complicated, however. Neither does it, perforce, mean that thought takes place without first building up language habits that are motor and overt.
It is also a mistake to suppose that the only stimulus to thought is in the external world. Objects, and external factors, of course, play a large role in stimulating thought. Probably they play by far the larger role. Still, it appears that tissue changes, neural changes, and glandular activity may also stimulate or set up thought processes.
The line of discussion so far has identified consciousness very closely with the language habits. Hunter might seem to disagree with this. He defines consciousness as the irreversible relationship SP-LR. That is, a sensory process and a language response. Of course, the LR may be the first item in a new SP-LR relationship. This concept appears to be valid. However, there seems to be no reason for assuming that this is in opposition to the discussion already given. It makes clearer the nature of language habits. It reinforces the concept of the vital connection between stimulus and response. It is an irreversible situation, based upon the inseparable relation of stimulus and response. It emphasizes the fact that language habits are based upon processes already at work. The language habits define these processes. Without the processes there would be no language habit as there would be nothing to define. Still, we may have sensory processes which are not defined by language habits. They may be defined by immediate motor acts or central changes.
( 392) However, when they are not defined by language, consciousness apparently is not present. So, while it is possible that language habits are not wholly identifiable with consciousness, still, consciousness, it appears, does not arise until we do have language habits, and thus consciousness might after all be identifiable with the language habits.
I suppose that there are three solutions for this problem raised by Hunter's conception. (i) Language response may be just a phase of language habits and the language mechanism, and language habits, used in a broader sense, could include the material of consciousness. (2) The definition of consciousness may be too broad. (3) Consciousness may include other processes than those involved in the language mechanisms. To the degree that this is merely a matter of definition, we are interested only to the extent that it makes expression clearer. From this standpoint it seems that we might use the language habits as a substitute for consciousness. This would simplify terminology and explanation. What we are particularly interested in, however, are the facts involved. Here it appears that consciousness arises with language habits and is to be explained largely, if not wholly, by language habits. This points towards solution one, and from this standpoint consciousness might be identified with language habits and coordinations. Language habits might be substitutable for consciousness. It might be said that consciousness is language habits operating. Lashley calls the core of `conscious' integration the `verbogestural coordination.' Watson states that `conscious' is merely a general phrase descriptive of the act of "naming our universe of objects both inside and outside." John Dewey says, "Personally, I believe that the identification of knowing and thinking with speech  is wholly in the right direction."  Language habits would also include the case where the individual might have the proper habits without the name. They would include thought, concepts, etc., as explained
( 393) before. Hunter spends most of his explanation of consciousness upon the language habit phase. Language ability according to him is behavior which is symbolic and can be reinstated at the proper time. This is contrasted with the ordinary stimulus-response activity, which is not `conscious' behavior. Of course if, in opposition to the weight of factual evidence, the above solution is not accepted, we may have room for the term consciousness as a separate category in psychology, provided, however, that it be divested of its unscientific connotations. This would not necessarily deny a behavioristic statement of it. It is also well to admit that as yet we do not have sufficient data to explain consciousness completely. The purpose here is to show that a behavioristic explanation in terms of language mechanisms appears particularly hopeful as a scientific basis of attack upon the problem. Further facts in regard to the identification of consciousness with language habits will appear in the discussion which follows.
The rest of the paper I wish to devote to the view of language as a social category or process, although I would not limit the study of behavior to only that which establishes the social status of persons, as Weiss apparently does. This presentation does not oppose the line of thought already developed. It is an attempt to see the influence of some of the social factors which may be involved in language and consciousness and to bring out further facts in regard to this problem of language mechanisms and consciousness.
The basis for the conception of language habits as a social process is the act and the stimulus-response situation. In actual life the stimulus and response are not separated from each other. As a matter of fact, there must be some sort of response before there can be a stimulus, and vice versa, there must be some sort of a stimulus before there can be a response. Behavior is a continuous process of activity. A response is in turn a stimulus for another response and this again is a stimulus for further response. In the physical process all that we have is a change in the system of tensions.
( 394) The only way that we get a separate stimulus or a separate response is by a process of abstraction  whereby we call the stimulus a certain phase of a coordination which represents conditions which have to be met for the completion of it, while the response is the phase which represents the conditions that serve as means for effecting the successful coordination.
If the stimulus is a phase of the coordination which represents conditions that must be fulfilled for a successful completion of the coordination, then the stimulus defines or indicates what the response or the rest of the coordination is to be. The response also defines or indicates what has been the stimulus or preceding conditions for this response. In other words, one part of the act, or coordination, defines another part of the act.
This continuous character of behavior and action is particularly important. If what has been said about the definition of one part of the act by another is correct, then the meaning of the first part of the act is found in the rest of the act. The meaning of one act is another act, the meaning of this act is still another act or series of acts and so on. All there seems to be in meaning after all is activity. Lashley expresses a view somewhat similar to this in his article, 'A Behavioristic Interpretation of Consciousness.' Meaning is not the ephemeral intangible thing we have been wont to consider it, but definite concrete acts.
In social life our habits and acts have been developed cooperatively. Other persons complete our acts for us. We also complete their acts. But as long as response is to immediate stimuli there is nothing which need be called
( 395) conscious  or which would necessarily involve language habits. And as long as the interaction of individuals is carried on upon the basis of direct response to stimuli, we are not called upon to use language habits.
Now in such cooperative activity as we have in social life, it is clear that a large number of potential stimuli are not present. The greater the cooperation, the larger this number of potential stimuli will be. Further, it appears that if the individual were able to furnish a substitute for these absent stimuli, he would be defining or getting the meaning of his own actions or responses, for the stimulus defines the response and he would be indicating to himself the nature of the absent stimulus. He would be able to function much more adequately. This kind of activity, of course, would be the operation of language habits according to the definitions of them which were given above. It would be actual behavior; to be less specific it would be thinking.
If this explanation of language habits as substitute action and the relation of stimulus and response is correct, it seems that the only possible way for a language habit to develop would be for the organism in some manner to take the role of another individual or object and stimulate itself in the same manner that the other individual or object stimulates it. In this manner it would develop signs and symbols which would signify absent objects, and also present activity. As Mead states, "Significance has two references--one, to
( 396) the thing indicated, the stimulus-object; the other, to the response (present activity) or the meaning." 
The possible ways whereby an individual or other organism could thus take the role of another person or object and stimulate itself in the same way that the other stimulates it, appear limited.
Any mechanism whereby the organism could do this would be sufficient to develop consciousness and language habits. But it is difficult to see how language habits would have ever developed if it were not for the vocal and auditory habits. Vocal habits have been developed more extensively by man than by any other organism. Here one individual's voice may be substituted for another individual's voice. The small baby, A, in the company of another baby, B, who is crying, often seems unable to tell whether it, A, is crying or not. And often A does begin to cry. It is a matter of common experience that children stimulate themselves in a seemingly endless round of responses such as 'da-da-da-dada-da-da,' and later they carry on conversation with themselves by taking the role of an absent playmate. We hardly have another mechanism so well adapted to perform this function of substituting our own stimulus for another stimulus as is the human voice. It is heard by the ear as another person's voice is heard.
It is clear, of course, that if we have depended upon the speech mechanism for the first language habits, they are later transferred to bodily gestures and movements. Also after they have been developed, we are able to transfer or teach them to individuals without an adequate speech mechanism. But this is done by an elaborate technical process. It is doubtful whether such persons would develop language habits spontaneously. If it would be possible for such persons, a colony of deaf mutes for instance, to develop language habits, it would probably be on account of the possession of a more complex brain and nervous structure
( 397) which would enable them to produce substitute stimuli in other ways. It is somewhat doubtful, however, whether this would suffice. The way to settle such a question, of course, is by experiments and further observations in this field.
The above view which has been set forth as an explanation of language habits gives us also an explanation of consciousness. It is by this type of behavior that we get the meaning of activity. It is the process whereby we get ideas, concepts, knowledge; the process of consciousness. This mechanism of taking the role of others, of developing language habits seems to be the `mental' process and what we call `mind.' Mind is not something wholly encased within the skull. Dewey's view corroborates this. He states that "not only can two persons know the same object, but a single personal reaction cannot know an identical object." "As a single and singular being, I may make a primary non-cognitive reaction to a stimulus."  It is the reaction of significance for other individuals, as well as ourselves, that gives us knowledge.
Weiss' view appears to be in line with the above conception, although he does not explain as clearly the mechanism by which language habits develop. He classifies responses into three categories: biophysical, implicit, and biosocial or overt responses .  The biophysical response is the muscle-twitch phase. The biosocial response "is the group of movements or the effects of these movements that other individuals observe and classify as belonging to the educational, vocational, administrative, recreational, and personal forms of behavior." They are the responses that determine our social status. They are understood by persons of the same social status. The biosocial response is the characteristic human response. Man's behavior is characterized by cooperation. Man 'is the only animal that has evolved the principle of receptor-effector interchangeability between
( 398) organisms.'  This makes possible the development of language habits. As a matter of fact, the biosocial response is only the stimulus-response category known as language. This is very similar to Mead's concept of taking the role of the other by the use of signs and symbols. Words form the basis for generalization and abstraction. Words and symbols come to stimulate for relations between stimuli and thus furnish this basis. We think by this process.
The biosocial responses furnish the basis for the implicit responses. "For the behaviorist the genesis of the implicit response lies in the auxiliary responses which occur during the learning of new overt responses, particularly those of the social or cooperative type." These auxiliary responses remain and furnish the basis for imagery. Implicit motor patterns functioning is having an image. To describe an image you stimulate the other persons to respond as you responded. That is, you produce in them a motor pattern similar to the one which you had from the original situation . This is similar to Dewey's conception of a mathematician's or chemist's treatise as a behavioristic guide of what the reader will have to do in order to see the things that the author has responded to with certain statements.
If it should turn out that this view of language habits and consciousness as a social category is correct, it would appear to be quite significant from the standpoint of the science of human behavior, and, possibly, from the standpoint of division of labor. It may mean that behavior as a science is to be divided into behavior as individual psychology studying individual behavior and finally putting it in physicochemical and neuromechanistic terms, and behavior as social psychology. The basis for a social psychology appears to be to a large degree just this symbolic character or equivalence of responses which we have in language habits.
Weiss lists three points under the essential characteristic of the social category: (a) The neuromuscular character of a response is relatively unimportant as compared with its effect as a stimulus for other individuals. (b) Physical units of measurements represented by calories, watts, foot-pounds, etc., are relatively inadequate to measure this stimulating effect. (c) The individual is classified not on the basis of physical or psychological properties, but on the basis of his cooperative effectiveness in the social organization of which he is a unit. He maintains that "neurology cannot explain even the simplest of the social interactions until a biosocial analysis has been made." In other words, it appears that the biosocial reactions are to be classified and analyzed from the standpoint of the social situation. Different forms of the biophysical response may be equivalent stimuli from the social standpoint. For example, there are a number of physical methods of inviting a person to dinner and they all may produce the same response, namely, that the invitation is accepted.
If these language habits and responses are to be analyzed from the social standpoint, then our basis for scientific generalization is not so much the individual as the responses to a social situation or social value. This would furnish a basis for a science of social psychology.
On the other hand, it must be recognized that these and other reactions can be reduced to the reactions and behavior of individuals involved as individuals. This then furnishes a basis for generalization which is the individual, and consequently for a science of individual psychology.
Of course, the individual is of fundamental importance in either case. Also a scientific and mechanistic explanation is involved in either case. An individual is an aggregate of electron-protons. As Weiss states, from the standpoint of physical monism, he is to be regarded as a locus in this move-
( 400) -ment continuum which makes up our universe; and a function (in the mathematical sense) of the changes that are occurring in all the other electron-proton aggregates. Thus the activity or behavior of individuals is to be explained in scientific terms the same as all chemical and physical processes. When the individuals are taken as the loci of uniformity, we have one basis for generalization in regard to behavior. When the responses of individuals to social situations or social values are taken as the loci of uniformity, we have another basis for generalization in regard to human behavior and personality.
Two such divisions of the science of behavior would not be contradictory, but supplementary. It might mean a very helpful division of labor  and one that has already been indicated by Woodworth's classification. Of course, it is not the point of this paper to insist upon a division of labor in scientific discipline-the above is only suggestive-the point is to indicate the significance of language habits in the study of human behavior.
By way of conclusion, it may be said that the explanation of consciousness as language habits or significant behavior seems to be of considerable importance in making psychology and social psychology scientific, as well as opening a large field for study and experimentation. It helps to furnish a behavioristic basis in social psychology for a scientific explanation of the process of social interaction, of the development of the concept of `self' and of `others,' of social status, of social influence and social control. In the individual psychology it furnishes a behavioristic account of a certain type of behavior of individuals. It should be remembered, however, that analysis must not stop here, but must be pushed on as far as possible, otherwise language habits may become another fetish similar to consciousness, a verbal cloak for ignorance.
The view set forth is that mind is behavior and that consciousness may be explained behavioristically in terms of language habits and coordination. A language habit is a word-stimulus or action-stimulus which is a substitute for or symbolic of a bodily habit or process, and an absent-stimulus (this does not mean that at no time can the stimulus be present). The substitutive character in regard to these two factors is an important consideration of the definition. Language habits are built up as conditioned reflexes and conditioned reponses of various orders. Language habits include much more than speech reactions; the whole body may be involved. Thinking is language habits operating and it is probable that part of thought goes on by central connections.
Language habits may be looked upon as a social process whereby persons get the meaning of their actions or responses by taking the role of other individuals. This is possible because stimulus and response define each other and a person by stimulating himself as another does thereby define his own activity. Meaning is activity-one act defines another act. The vocal habits, auditory habits, and cooperative activity make it possible for one individual to take the role of another. This process gives us symbols, signs, concepts, ideas, thought, i.e. the mental process or the process of consciousness.
Thus, in the study of human behavior, language habits furnish a very hopeful source of material which may be used to explain consciousness as an objective mechanistic process.