[From Rick Marken (960419.1000)]

Hans Blom (960419) --

I say that one can arbitrarily change WANTS... Let us avoid imprecise words
and turn to hard math...

r11 = p + q * d1 + r * d2
r12 = s + t * d1 + u * d2

These formula's show, I hope to your satisfaction, that by suitably
choosing values for d1 and d2 we can reach all possible combinations
of values for r11 and r12.

Yes. I agree that it is possible, in principle (assuming no limits on the
loop variables), to get r11 and r12 to reach all possible combinations of
values by suitably manipulating d1 and d2; the environment certainly
_influences_ what we want.

What I have been saying is simply that the inanimate environmental does not
_control_ what we want, because the inanimate environment is not organized
as a control system. Other control systems _can_ control what we want, to
some extent, but they cannot control what we want _arbitrarily_. That is, an
external controller cannot control what we want without taking into account
the fact that we have other wants that might conflict with the want that the
external controller wants us to have; our wants can be controlled as long as
that doesn't inconvenience us. It is in this sense that we are autonomous.

I think you are unwilling to call people "autonomous" if an external
controller can control people's wants _at all_. For example, in the rubber
band demo an external controller (the experimenter) can control a person's
(the subject's) finger position rather precisely by applying disturbances to
the controlled variable (knot position). If you look at the situation from
the perspective of the experimenter it certainly looks like the subject's
wants (where the subject wants his finger) are slave to the whims of an
external controller; it looks like the subject is not autonomous (doing what
he wants). If, however, you look at the situation from the subject's
perceptive you see that the subject is doing precisely what he wants; the
variations in lower level wants that are required to compensate for the
disturbance are also what the subject wants; there is no inconvenience to the
subject; the subject is behaving completely autonomously (doing what he

Now suppose the experimenter decides that the subject should want a finger
near the tip of a hot soldering iron (Bill's example in B:CP). When the
experimenter tries this it exposes the fact that the subject was behaving
autonomously all along. The experimenter cannot make the subject want to have
a finger near the tip of the soldering iron because that would inconvenience
the subject; wanting the finger near the tip of the soldering iron would
conflict with something else the subject wants: no pain.

So living control systems are autonomous (doing what they want; or trying to
do what they want) at all times, even when, by doing what they want, they are
also doing something consistent with the wants of an external controller.

The fact that people, when not inconvenienced, can be manipulated by others
is what gives the _illusion_ that people are _not_ autonomous. It is the
reason why many scientists and lay people have believed, for centuries, that
people are _not_ autonomous; that people are controlled by external
influences. It is this illusion that PCT exposes so clearly -- at least, to
those who are willing to abandon their biases and _learn_ PCT.



[From Rick Marken (960422.1300)]

Geez, I'm dense!

I finally got the point that Bill was trying to make, but not before he
laid it out, one number at a time (Bill Powers (960422.0930 MDT). If I
hadn't spend most of my youth searching for wisdom at the bottom of bottles
of vodka (and I did a very thorough search)) perhaps I could have figured
this out last week because I had already set up a spreadsheet model of the
two level control hierarchy that Bill modeled in CONTWANT.PAS. I didn't get
Bill's point at that time because I was busy proving to myself that Hans was
right; that you could, indeed, pick disturbances (d1, d2) that would change
wants (r11, r12) to any desired value; that is, you could, in principle,
control a person's wants. I did recognize that this could only happen "in
principle", that is, assuming no limits on system output.

What I _didn't_ notice, while using hugh disturbances to control the model's
wants, was what Bill Powers (960422.0930 MDT) just showed, viz.,

for all "normal" disturbances, those that leave the systems within their
normal operating range, the maximum change in the first-order wants induced
by the disturbances is about 2.5% of the undisturbed value.

What I missed was the clearest demonstration of the model's autonomy;
the fact that wants (r11 and r12) in a control hierarchy hardly change _at
all_ when disturbances are _normal_; that is, within a range that produces
effects on the controlled variable that could be opposed by the output of a
physically realistic control system.

Hans' claim (about the ability to control wants with disturbances) is _only_
true if we ignore reality. When we take reality into account, we see that
wants (r11 and r12) don't change much at all when disturbances are within the
normal range of operation of a control system. In Bill's example, changing
from no disturbance to the largest disturbance that can be opposed by the
control system (the "normal range" of the system) results in a very small
change (about 2.5% in Bill's example) in wants (r11 and r12).

So there is not much of a range over which wants can be controlled when those
wants are part of a high gain control hierarchy. The higher the gain of the
control hierarchy, the more autonomous (less controllable) it is.



[From Bruce Gregory (960422.1700 EDT)]

(Rick Marken (960422.1300)

   Geez, I'm dense!

I take second place to no one where density is involved. However, I
never bought Hans's reasoning because, mathematics or no, I _know_
you can't change an autonomous control system's goals by applying
pressure. Kill them, yes. Convert them, no. I am, however,
relieved to see Bill's nifty and understandable demonstration that my
intuitions are not hopelessly off and that mathematical models _do_

Bruce G.

[Hans Blom, 960423]

(Bruce Gregory (960422.1130 EDT))

Granted we assume that the environment could be a control system.
The next step, it seems to me, would be to test for the controlled
variable. Do you have in mind any environmental variable that would
pass this test?

Sorry, Bruce, but proposing variables for The Test isn't my hobby.
There's plenty of people here who are much better at that. I'm more
the type of theoretical guy who likes to check theories for their
implications and who is happy when puzzles arise that cannot be
explained by current thinking.

Sometimes such puzzles turn up, for instance where PC Theory itself
has as a consequence that the "autonomous" goals of a hierarchical
control system are set (or influenced) by the world the system lives
in, and thus are not so autonomous after all. This is a hard impli-
cation of the theory, which at first glance seems kind of contradict-
ory. That was what I wanted to investigate and what I wanted to draw
your attention to. What you want to make of it, I leave upto you. You
may want to "explain" it away by saying that the effect is small.
That's fine, yet the effect is there...

Never take me too literally; I'm apt to provoke a little. I do not
assume that the environment is a control system. In fact, I do not
think that anything IS a control system (unless I've designed it :wink:
although it may be fruitful to look at a great many systems (nice
fuzzy word) AS control systems, including the most unlikely ones.

Also, I've pointed out in the past that The Test may not always give
an answer. One has to think of the variable first, and our creativity
may not come up with the correct variable. Then the "controlled"
variable may not actually be the controlled one at all but one
correlated with it. Then there is the time scales problem. The Test
takes time, and if the controller is extraordinarily slow Testing may
take more time that we have in our lifetimes or even have had in all
human history.

Again, I'm more someone who likes to place question marks than
provide answers. Which I know is kind of irritating to some...




Eindhoven University of Technology Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Dept. of Electrical Engineering Medical Engineering Group

Great man achieves harmony by maintaining differences; small man
achieves harmony by maintaining the commonality. Confucius

[From Bill Powers (920522.1100)]

Greg Williams (920521) --

My point in bringing up the history-determination of current
behavior/actions of PCT circuits was to counter claims that PCT >supports a

notion of strict individual autonomy.

Let's go into the meanings we might give to "autonomy." I use the term in a
way that has a rather complicated meaning with a basis farther back than
current behavioral interactions with the current environment. I'll slip in
my hypotheses about the role of control without marking them; I'm sure
others will be able to tell what is hypothesis from what is generally-
accepted "fact" in this story.

Start with DNA. While the surface appearance is that genetic
characteristics are transmitted via the DNA molecule, in fact a lot more
passes from generation to generation than just DNA. Much cellular material,
as in mitochondria, is passed along with the DNA through the mother's egg;
in the lowest orders, the cellular material simply divvies up during the
reproductive divisions. Immediately after a new individual is launched, the
DNA is in an environment that is continuous with the previous environment,
at least locally.

So the biochemical control systems whose reference signals are carried in
DNA can operate right across the boundary between generations. These
control systems, finding themselves isolated, begin again building the
control systems that build the control systems that build the control
systems that constitute the adult organism. The entire milieu interieur
(sp?) is regenerated, with whatever changes occurred during the division of
genetic material. The continuity proceeds, as people have long suspected,
through the mother.

One of the final products of this process is the a set of intrinsic
reference signals. These reference signals are the basis of reorganization
or learning through which the new organism establishes control in the
environment it first and subsequently encounters. The intrinsic reference
signals represent the target states of some as yet poorly defined set of
variables critical to the survival of the individual. There is no reason to
think that the reference signals are identically set from one person to the
next, or even that they are all of the same kind. Each individual differs
in details of organization at all levels from DNA through cellular through
organ-structures through gross bodily structure through neural circuitry.
And the mix of intrinsic reference signals will differ from individual to

Intrinsic reference signals are part of a system, probably distributed
rather than lumped in one place, that controls for zero intrinsic error.
The means of control is blind variation of the organization of the nervous
system and the biochemical control systems. Reorganization is driven by
intrinsic error, and ceases when intrinsic error drops below some

As a result, the organism acquires control systems that can maintain
perceived aspects of the external world at learned reference levels by
means of motor behavior (and at the biochemical level, changes in such
things as strength, speed, organ size and activity, and so on). The
criterion for acquiring any behavioral control system, and for setting its
reference signal to any specific value, is that intrinsic error be
maintained at the lowest possible level.

Thus the overriding concern of the reorganizing system, and the purpose for
which it causes any behavioral organization to appear, is to control its
own basic physical state; to maintain its component variables at
endogenously-determined reference levels. It neither knows about nor cares
about nor CAN care about any processes external to the body. Everything it
causes to be done by way of interacting with an external world is done for
the purpose of controlling an internal state. It is therefore completely
and absolutely autonomous in its purposes.

It does, to be sure, have a history. But this is not so much a history of
antecedent events as it is a history of gradually changing organization.
The reorganizing system of one generation is continuous with the
reorganizing systems of previous generations: it is the same system,
evolving. At the center of this system are reference signals that have not
changed in billions of years, having survived even speciation.
Reorganizations that preserve these basic reference signals have led to the
development of instrumental reference signals and associated control
systems, and those have led to still more elaborate control mechanisms, and
so on to the various physical forms that life has ultimately adopted -- as
a means of preserving the fundamental function, which is to control. And to
control is the ultimate meaning of being autonomous.

If the criterion for stopping reorganization is bringing intrinsic
variables to their respective reference levels, it follows that only those
behavioral control systems will survive reorganization that do entail
actual effects of the right kinds on the intrinsic variables.

The effect of any given behavioral act is not determined by the organism:
it is determined by the nature of the surrounding world (including the
behavioral organization of other organisms in that world). So
reorganization can't cease until the actual effects on intrinsic states,
via that external world, are correct for maintaining zero intrinsic error.

Thus the organism learns first what variables are critical to perceive in
that external world, and second what specific states of those variables are
critical to maintain. This process of learning has been going on through
geological time, with the appearance of control structures of greater and
greater generality, and what we recognize as higher and higher levels of
control. As each new level of control appeared, new and more important
aspects of the environment became perceivable and came under control by the
organism. The actions of the organism adapted themselves to the environment
in more and more subtle ways.

The means of action did not change nearly as much as the neural control
systems that use actions to control ever more complex variables. A human
being and a monkey share nearly identical means of motor action. Both have
hands at the ends of jointed limbs; but the human being can accomplish
things with its hands that a monkey cannot. This is not because of having
an opposable thumb, but because of having higher levels of control. Human
beings can do more even with their thumbs cut off than a monkey can do with
ten digits.

So we arrive finally at the question of autonomy in the individual human
being. Autonomy is clearly not freedom from physical constraints (which
include, in the final analysis, social constraints). The environment, not
the organism, dictates the effects of any given action. But the environment
does not dictate the desired consequences of any action. It is the organism
that chooses those consequences, and learns how it must act in order to
produce them.

In a hierarchical control system, built, I presume, level by level over the
eons and recapitulated in the individual, the lower systems give up their
autonomy to the higher systems that manipulate their reference signals. At
whatever level is currently the highest, the reference signals are set from
within the organism by the process of reorganization; the purpose of
choosing a particular setting is to maintain intrinsic error as close to
zero as possible -- as the purpose has always been. In order to bring the
highest level of perception into a match with this autonomously-set
reference signal, the highest control systems must, as usual, be altered to
produce actions which are among those that will have the required effects.
Now those actions are determined by properties of the existing lower levels
as well as by the characteristics of the world external to the organism.

The organism can't choose what properties the external world will have, no
matter what the level of perception. Once its lower levels have been built
and brought into mutual harmony, the organism has less than a completely
free choice even as to the kinds of actions it can produce (without
starting again from scratch, which is probably no longer possible in the
adult organism, in the time remaining to it). So the particular behavioral
organizations that appear in the adult are shaped by the properties of the
world around it and by the properties of its own already-acquired lower
levels of control.

However, the highest levels of reference signal remain autonomous and are
changed only in service of maintaining the individual organism's mix of
intrinsic variables at their unique mix of reference settings. The external
world has no influence over that basic requirement. Intrinsic error remains
the organism's sole criterion for judging the value of any aspect of its
experiences. This is true of all organisms from the amoeba to the human

If the highest levels of reference signals are autonomously determined,
then the next-to-highest levels of reference signals are varied so as to
prevent the environment (as perceived through all the lower levels) from
making the highest perceptions depart materially from their reference
settings. This means that the next-to-highest levels of perception will
also be shaped to meet the requirements of the highest reference signals.

But the next-to-highest reference signals will be determined by what the
environment requires, for the highest perceptual signals in general contain
effects of uncontrolled elements. To make the net result match what the
highest system requires, the reference signals for the controllable parts
of the next-to-highest world must be varied, and those variations much be
matched to the properties of the lower systems and the external world. The
organism can't choose the settings freely, because only certain settings
will result in the required perceptions. There may be many alternative
settings that will produce the required perception, but there is freedom to
choose only among those alternatives, given that the highest reference
signal is to be satisfied. All other alternatives are ruled out by
properties of the external world.

The general picture is that the environment determines behavior, while the
autonomous organism determines consequences of behavior. Given the intended
consequences, the environment sets the limits as to what lower-level
actions can in fact bring those consequences about.

So we can see where autonomy begins and ends. It is the organism that
selects consequences that keep its intrinsic errors as close to zero as
possible. It is the environment -- and other organisms in it -- that
determines what actions must be produced in order that those consequences
be brought about and maintained. The external world sets the stage on which
existence is played out. But the reorganizing system writes the play.

And even the reorganizing system is just the product of a deeper control
process, at the core of which lies a tiny and unimaginably ancient spark
of purpose that makes life different from everything else.



Bill P.

[from Gary Cziko 920523.1418]

Bill Powers (920522.1100) expressed:

So we arrive finally at the question of autonomy in the individual human
being. Autonomy is clearly not freedom from physical constraints (which
include, in the final analysis, social constraints). The environment, not
the organism, dictates the effects of any given action. But the environment
does not dictate the desired consequences of any action. It is the organism
that chooses those consequences, and learns how it must act in order to
produce them.

This gives me a whole new appreciation of what the H (hierarchy) in HCPT is
about. I realize now that the environment (and the other organisms in it)
DO determine certain perceptions, but only the LOWER ones in the hierarchy.
If the living control system is successful, the environment will not
determine what the PERCEPTIONS THAT COUNT will be (those higher in the

If you are my disturbance pulling on your end of the rubber band, your
action WILL determine some of my perceptions, namely my perception of where
my hand is. But it will not determine where the knot of the rubber band is
(unless of course you disturb beyond my capacity to control). Of course,
if I want to control BOTH perceptions (where my hand is and where the knot
is), then I've got conflict and will have to reorganize.

Keep at it, Bill. It's so fulfilling to see my understanding of HPCT
continue to grow. I hope that others on CSGnet are having the same


Gary A. Cziko Telephone: (217) 333-4382
Educational Psychology FAX: (217) 244-0538
University of Illinois E-mail:
1310 S. Sixth Street Radio: N9MJZ
210 Education Building
Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990

[From Bill Powers (920912.1400)]

Dennis Delprato (920912) --

RE: Autonomy.

You're coming very close to the position I think I have. As you say,
the development is delicate. On the one side there is the pit of
solipsism, with the world denied and made imaginary or subject to
whim. Down the other side lurk the positivists, who must eventually
advocate controlling people for their own good according to objective
criteria. At the apex where these two slopes -- one slippery and the
other studded with sharp rocks -- converge, there is, I think, a
narrow ridge which, followed to its end, will show us a self-
consistent view of the environment, of other people, and of ourselves.

Greg Williams is perfectly correct in wanting us to develop a theory
of interaction. To cast the problem in terms of manipulation, however,
is to beg a question, because we don't know, without analyzing the
possible mechanisms, what can actually be manipulated by another and
what can't.

The underlying question is what we mean by autonomy: in what respects
are organisms autonomous and in what respects not? Organisms clearly
depend on their environments (including other organisms) for
sustenance of various kinds. Furthermore they have inherited needs
about which they have no choice. Understanding autonomy is especially
difficult in a hierarchical system, where combating a disturbance at
one level entails altering goals at lower levels. Goal-directed
behavior is not, per se, autonomous -- in a hierarchy.

There are certain processes in the human organism that are carried out
simply because of the way the organism is put together, inside.
Control itself is an example, as is reorganization. The environment
contains no means of carrying out these processes for an organism,
either to help it or hinder it. A human being must acquire perceptual
functions that produce consistent perceptions, perceptions that vary
in sensible ways and relate to each other without contradiction. The
environment can't do that kind of making-sense; only a brain can. Once
a perceptual signal exists, it is the brain that must carry out
comparisons with reference signals, to generate an error signal. The
environment does not inform the human organism of how it, the
environment, should be, nor does it tell the organism what constitutes
a discrepancy with the organism's goals. And it is the inner
mechanisms of the organism that must find out how to convert error
signals into those choices, amounts, and directions of lower-order
actions that will make the errors smaller. The actual process of
finding those means, as opposed to what means will be found, is
strictly a product of internal mechanisms for change.

On the other hand, the organism can produce outputs, but it can't
determine what the consequences of them will be. All the brain can do
is drive the effectors. It is the environment that then serves up the
consequences. The environment can generate consequences on its own; it
can vary enough so that a given action seldom creates the same
consequences twice, and it contains independent forces that affect
perceptions. This is my best evidence for existence of a Boss Reality
that exists and has properties independent of my experiences.

Because the environment has properties and contains independent
sources of disturbance, the organism must learn by itself which output
variations will control its perceptions and which will not. Once the
organism has begun representing the external world in a particular
perceptual way, and once it commits to a goal, to reproducing a
particular state of that perception, it has no choice but to produce
an output that is sufficient to create that perception. The forms of
its perceptual functions determine how the environment will be
apprehended, but given those forms, it is the environment, not the
organism, that determines what actions will in fact be sufficient to
control the perceptual result. The organism must contain means of
discovering the effective actions, the means of control, but it has no
say as to what those actions will turn out to be.

When an organic control system resists a disturbance, it does so
relative to a goal-state of the affected perception. But that goal-
state itself is adjusted as it is because of other disturances that
have effects on higher-level perceptions, making them deviate from
higher-level goal-states. There is no end until we reach the top
level. Only there do we find the possibility of purely endogenous
goal-generation. Below the top level, the way goals are set is
determined by the perceptual structure that intervenes at lower
levels, and by the properties of the environment, which dictate how
resetting a lower-level goal will affect a higher-level perception.

Each level of control, therefore, comes into being through the action
of internal mechanisms for change and development, but the final
result, the control organizations that come into existence, must be
designed to work through the properties of the world that actually
exists, however we may perceive it.

Finally there are the intrinsic variables, their inherited reference
levels, and the process of reorganization driven by intrinsic error.
These are defined for the organism by its heritage. Thou shalt stay
warm, but not too warm. Thou shalt breathe, and eat, and drink or find
ways of acting that have equivalent effects. Thou shalt reproduce, and
find the experience pleasant. Thou shalt avoid injury, and find injury
painful. And so on through a list that is undoubtedly longer than any
we can now write down.

The environment can affect intrinsic variables, but it can't say what
will constitute an intrinsic variable, or a reference level for one.
The process of reorganization, being capable of altering anything in
the hierarchy of control, both perceptions and actions, overrides all
other considerations. The environment may determine what must be done
to affect a given perception in a given way, but it is the
reorganizing system that decides what will constitute a perception,
and whether any particular state of it is to be sought or avoided.

With respect, at least, to the current environment, these built-in
systems define the true autonomy of an individual. The individual will
learn to perceive the environment, and to control its perceptions
relative to particular goals, in ways that use the properties of the
environment and satisfy the requirements of the inherited control
system that I call the reorganizing system. In an advanced organism,
if the properties of the environment aren't sufficient to find a way
of eliminating intrinsic error, the properties of the environment will
be changed. The rain will not be allowed to fall, the wind will not be
allowed to blow and freeze, the sun will not be allowed to beat down
-- on this organism.

So autonomy, in any one lifetime, is awarded to the organism, in
particular to its reorganizing system. But that is only in one

One organism is a member of a species. There are processes of blind
variation and selective retention that span the links between
generations. The selective retention depends at least in part on
criteria endogenous to the species; even the blind variation may be in
part an act of the species rather than just a random effect of
something else. The species contains mechanisms for change. And it
must also contain reference signals that are passed down from
generation to generation, which define the reason both for starting
and for ending change.

I won't follow that trail any further; the point is only to show that
the same principles of autonomy can be extended into the past, with
the environment providing the stage and acting mindlessly to disturb,
but being incapable of carrying out the processes of change, which
continue to reside in the species. This trail leads all the way back
to the first molecule that stabilized the conditions on which the
accuracy of its replication depended, and thus gave birth to life.

Here and now, we live in a world whose properties are largely unknown
to us and which determine for us the effects of our actions. We,
however, choose our own goal structures, as our means of preserving
ourselves in the state that our natures tell us is right. Between this
ultimate personal autonomy and the impersonal events in the nonliving
universe, there comes to be a hierarchy of control systems that
reflects both our overriding inner needs and the conditions the
environment places on meeting those needs.

This is the best I can do for now by way of laying out the meaning of
autonomy and the relation of an organism to the world outside it. This
still leaves open the question of interactions among organisms;
organisms with similar organizations, and organisms assymetrically
related to each other. Whatever we decide to say about manipulation, I
think it will turn out to describe the situation presented here: one
organism learning how to affect its perceptions in the way it wants,
by choosing actions from among those that the environment says are the
only feasible ones.

[FROM Dennis Delprato (920912)]

Rick Marken (920911.0900)

The war on autonomy

After making the mistake of watching the news last night I realized why
PCT will always have a hard time; people just don't like to believe
in autonomy for anyone but themselves.


Bill Powers (920911.1200)

[To] Gary Cziko (920911) --

You made an arbitrary
change in their environments, but had no means of adjusting that
change until the result you wanted -- learning French -- matched your
reference level for it. ...
In case you think I'm criticizing, I'm not. I think you showed great
respect for your children's autonomy ....

I recall Rick Marken, perhaps most vocally, taking a position that
the "inner-workings" of the PCT class of models requires an
individual who acts autonomously. From this, one postulate of
PCT is individual autonomy.

What does this postulate imply? For starters, I see two basic
states of affairs. One would be the traditional Western Judeo-
Christian-inspired view first well-stated by Augustine whereby
the individual is totally separate from the world. Augustine,
the great egoistic apostle, interiorized and personalized the
universe in the interests of personal salvation. Although
few histories reveal this, Augustine's internalism, with
modifications, remains with us today. We continue to find
one or another theorist suggesting that the answers as to
why people do what they do, think what they think, experience
what they experience are to be found solely under their skin
(inside the Great boundary of the Skin). Great developments
in scientific psychology represent (*partial*) movement away
from extreme versions of internalism--dynamic psychiatry (Freud),
environmentalism, behaviorism. Interactionism (of which
there are unnumbered versions), a recent topic of CSG-L, also
represents attempts to "get outside the skin." The least
advanced interactionisms (e.g., Bandura's theory in
psychology) bespeak their evolution when they offer a
combination of inside (e.g., cognitive)-and-outside (e.g.,
behavioral) factors as always required for understanding
psychological events.

I do not find that PCT calls for the sort of autonomy
given us by cultural tradition. The equations are not
restricted to internal variables in the sense of taking
the skin as a Magical boundary. It is not that what in
the vernacular we refer to as the "environment" or even
"external environment" is always involved. It is that no
specific, elementary control system is independent in that
a hierarchy (>1) is always involved. No one control
system (referring to a single collection of basic components--
reference level et al.) is self-contained. Furthermore,
note that disturbances ("external" variables) must always
be included (one of great contributions of PCT). Thus,
I find PCT progressive on the venerable internal-external
issue. It takes neither side *and* does not take a
common interactionist position that there is a sequence
of I-->E, THEN E-->I, THEN I-->E, THEN E-->I. Self-
proclaimed progressive varieties of this add a mysterious
feedback loop verbally or graphically (e.g., Kanfer).

I am questioning that the "inner workings" of PCT call for
autonomy of the behaver--autonomy with referents going
back to Augustine and still found in mainstream psychology.

Nor, do I suggest that Rick's and Bill's use of autonomy
above calls for an autonomy postulate of the sort found in
mainstream psychology. I find them saying (a) people have
a right to be left alone unless they harm others and (b)
a fundamental outcome of the way that people function
psychologically is that given certain (unnecessary)
disturbances they may adjust in ways that are unpredictable,
not liked by others, disruptive to themselves.... Thus, the
autonomy is more social than psychological. The organization
and functioning of the psychological system that incorporates
social variables does bear on what the outcome of politico-
socio disturbances will be, but not because the individual
operates autonomously as an internalist would mean.

So I suggest the second state of affairs (class of referents to
autonomy) to be politico-socio. As a recommendation it might
read something like: "We know enough about how people adjust to
certain things that are done to them to suggest it is
desirable to follow a policy of minimum intrusion. In fact,
it might be useful to think of each individual as having a
right to personal autonomy."

Instead of individual autonomy as a basic postulate of
PCT, I find it useful to think of self-control--as
opposed to external control. Thus, PCT's message here
is that psychological events are under self-control with-
out autonomy (in the traditional, internalistic sense).

Perhaps one test of whether or not autonomy is needed
in PCT is to examine what PCT would be like without this

I was most immediately prompted to write this upon reading
Rick's statement above and thinking that if Rick were
autonomous in the Augustinian way (and how could Rick, above
all, be an Augustinian), then he would blissfully go on his
way not giving a hoot about what anyone else thinks. He
would exercise his autonomy and thereby--to him--make
everyone a 100% full-fledged perceptual control theorist.
His Augustinian autonomy would free him from the pain and
woe of having to be exposed to non-PCT advocates behind
every nook and cranny. I am not being facititious, for what
I describe is just the sort of autistic thinking Augustinian
autonomy justified and justifies--You don't like this world?
Verbally create and maintain another having none of the
spatiotemporal characteristic of the one in which we live.

I find that the recent intricate discussion on social control
may relate to the autonomy as I have framed it. But I'd hate
to have to put it all together.


SUBJECT: Autonomy--Referents

A not unrelated addendum: For some time I have been touting
"noninterventionism," which I believe to be a fundamental
implication of naturalistic cybernetics. In contrast to all
those who go around seeking to "fix" this and that involving
humans, I suggest we LEAVE THEM ALONE. Take so-called
psychotherapy. All 300 or so versions, more if one counts
up "eclectic" attempts, are interventionist. Do any begin
with the position that THE INDIVIDUAL, FAMILY, OR WHATEVER
NEEDS NO "HELP"? I've suggested establishing a Center for
Non-Therapy. Its function would be to show people they need
no therapy. Trouble is I don't know under which DSM code
this service could be billed. One thing, such a service
would reduce iatrogenic effects.

So, clearly I am for politico-socio autonomy.

Dennis Delprato
Dept. of Psychology
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197