Altering Perceptions, Ain't Science grand

[From Rick Marken (960627.1000)]

Bruce Gregory (960627.1015 EDT) --

Some time ago Dag Forssell argued that one way to bring about reorganization
is to alter perceptions. Rick calls this "hallucinating"

The meaning of the term "alter perceptions" is ambiguous to me. It can think
of at least three possible meanings: 1) changing an existing perceptual
function 2) building a new perceptual function 3) changing from control of
one existing perception to another.

Meaning (1) is what I think of as a hallucinatory approach to solving
problems. Suppose that we have a perceptual function with two inputs, i.1
and i.2. The perceptual function computes a perception that is a function of
these inputs. Let's say that the function is:

p = k.1*i.1 + .k.2*i.2

When I hear meaning (1) of "altering perceptions" I think of a change in this
function through a change in the constants, k.1 and k.2 and/or through a
change in the nature of the function itself (going from addition to
multiplication of the weighted inputs, for example). The reorganizing system
could certainly alter a perceptual function this way -- and it probably does
sometimes. But this is a VERY basic change in perception -- and it would
require a change in the rest of the control loop if control of p is to be
maintained. This kind of alteration in perception would probably be quite
noticeable; if the inputs to the function are spectral components of light,
for example, this kind of change in perception would change the perceived
color of things; spectral inputs that used to look green now look blue, for
example. I think we'd notice this kind of alteration in our perception.

Meaning (2) of "altering perceptions" is similar to meaning (1) except that
now we get a new perceptual function -- and, thus, a perception that we had
never had before. I think this kind of alteration of perception is quite
common in human development, especially for higher level perceptions. Kids,
for example, suddenly perceive a rule ("if you run into the street you will
get dragged out") where before there had only been a sequence of events
(running in the street followed by getting dragged out).

I think the development of new, usually "higher level" perceptual functions
is fundamental to real learning; and I think Piaget was right when he
suggested that kids must have the ability (the brain levels, in PCT) to learn
to perceive things in new ways before they can do this. A kid who has not yet
developed the ability to perceive the world in terms of rules cannot possibly
build a new perceptual function that perceives the rule about running into
the street.

I think perceptions can be altered in the sense of both meaning (1) and (2);
but I think this kind of alteration in perception takes a lot of time and
doesn't happen easily. That's why I say that the idea that you can solve your
problems by altering perceptions (in the meaning (1) or (2) sense) sounds
like solving problems by hallucinating. The fastest (and least permanent) way
to make meaning (1) and possibly meaning (2) alterations in perceptions is
by taking drugs (LSD works well;-)). You do see the world in a new way with
drugs, but these alterations are transitory and often quite the opposite of
helpful. Meaning (1) and (2) alterations in perception can solve problems --
but making such change is a long, slow process -- it's called
"getting educated" and "grawing up".

I think that when people talk about solving problems by altering perceptions
they are usually using the meaning (3) sense of altering perceptions, viz,
changing from control of one existing perception to control of another. This
is pretty easy to do. For example, I can control the distance between my
finger and the computer screen or I can control the distance between my
finger and the wall. Both perceptions are already available to be and I can
choose (from a higher level) to control one perception or the other; I can
"alter" the perception I am controlling from one available perception to
another. I think this the the kind of "alteration of perception" Ed Ford is
talking about when he suggests improving your relationship with your wife by
perceiving the good things about her and ignoring the bad things. When my
wife disagrees with something I say, for example, (something that occurs so
rarely I can hardly visualize it happening;-)) I can perceive this in terms
of the degree of contrariness in my wife's behavior (for which my reference
is low) or in terms of her intellectual scepticism (for which my reference is
high). If I perceive and control on the basis of the second rather than the
first perception, I'll be a happier fellow and my wife's behavior will be
less of a disturbance to what I want to perceive (because the "skepticism"
perception is closer to being under control).

Am I going astray here?

So far, you walkest in the path of the true PCTer. Fear not the wrath of
the terrible Marken, for he is a jealous god (what god isn't?) but he
forgiveth the sinner (for a small fee):wink:

Bill Powers (960627.0900 MDT) --

The latest issue of Science News (June 22, 1996) has an article in it called
"Neural Code Breakers: what language do neurons use to communicate?" by
Richard Lipon.

Just think how different all these ideas would look if it were only
recognized that the world of experience is ALREADY in the form of neural
signals by the time we become aware of it, and of course if it were
recognized that actions control perceptions rather than the other way

we CSGnetters are having a unique experience.

I'd just as soon have a somewhat more common experience, thanks.

Of course we will be dead, too

Well, maybe not THAT common;-)

Good to see that people are still looking for all that information in
perception. Sheez.