B:CP Course: Preface

[From Rick Marken (2013.06.28.1100)]

The official start of the "Behavior: The Control of Perception" course
is Monday, July 1, but I don't think we need to be too strict about
schedule. So I am sending out the "Study Guide" for the first week,
which is on the Preface. I'm also resending the Syllabus in case some
people have joined in after I sent it out the first time.

I think the best way to proceed now is to have those of you who are
"taking" the course and wish to comment on any or all of the questions
posed in the study guide to post those comments as a reply to this
email. Then "B:CP Course: Preface" will be in the subject line of all
posts related to the study guide topic (the Preface in this case).
David and I will try to respond to the comments (when that seems like
it would be helpful) but otherwise we will just see what happens.
David and I will try to limit the discussion of each weeks topic to
one week, though comments can really follow as long as you like.

I will be saving the discussions we have each week and eventually turn
them into "lectures". I would like to accompany these lectures with
relevant media -- videos, demos, etc. I will try to suggest relevant
media but it would be great if those of you in the class who know of
what might be relevant media to either put a link to it in you
comments or email it to me directly (if it's a large file) and I'll
make it available to the group via my dropbox file.

And speaking of drop box, I will make all files relevant to the course
available as links to my dropbox folder. It's very simple; here, for
example, are the pointers to the syllabus and study guide for the
preface.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/31298693/B.CP%20Course%20Syllabus.doc

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/31298693/Week%201%20Study%20Guide%2C%20%20Preface.doc

So here we go; let's see what happens.

Best regards

Rick

B.CP Course Syllabus.doc (24.5 KB)

Week 1 Study Guide, Preface.doc (25.5 KB)

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

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[From: Richard Pfau (2013.07.01.0953 EDT)

Rick, David, et al.,

Bill’s sentence near the end of the Preface stating that “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” struck me as being an especially clear statement of what PCT is about, much clearer I would think to most psychologists and laypeople than the sentence which follows, “For human beings, behavior is the control of perception.

As such, perhaps when communicating with others new to PCT, the first statement should be used much more often, rather than the second less understandable statement.

If so used, the first statement then lends itself to emphasizing and clarifying to a learner what is meant by saying that behavior is a process – which leads to discussing control processes and PCT models of those processes. Such an emphasis on process, I think, will help learners grasp what PCT is about.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

`[From Rick Marken (2013.06.28.1100)]


`I think the best way to proceed now is to have those of you who are

"taking" the course and wish to comment on any or all of the questions

posed in the study guide to post those comments as a reply to this

email. Then "B:CP Course: Preface" will be in the subject line of all

posts related to the study guide topic (the Preface in this case).

David and I will try to respond to the comments (when that seems like

it would be helpful) but otherwise we will just see what happens.

David and I will try to limit the discussion of each weeks topic to

one week, though comments can really follow as long as you like.

`

[Rick Marken (2013.07.01.1850)]

Thanks Richard. I’ll wait a couple days to see if we get more comments and then make some comments myself. I would like to hear what folks have to say about the questions in the study guide. The goal of the class – seminar, actually, as you rightly called it in another post-- is to analyze B:CP as though we had never read it before. So the study guide questions are aimed at seeing what you think Bill was trying to communicate at each point in the book. Kind of like a close reading of the Illiad without knowing who won;-)

Best regards

Rick

···

On Monday, July 1, 2013, wrote:

[From: Richard Pfau (2013.07.01.0953 EDT)

Rick, David, et al.,

Bill’s sentence near the end of the Preface stating that “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” struck me as being an especially clear statement of what PCT is about, much clearer I would think to most psychologists and laypeople than the sentence which follows, “For human beings, behavior is the control of perception.

As such, perhaps when communicating with others new to PCT, the first statement should be used much more often, rather than the second less understandable statement.

If so used, the first statement then lends itself to emphasizing and clarifying to a learner what is meant by saying that behavior is a process – which leads to discussing control processes and PCT models of those processes. Such an emphasis on process, I think, will help learners grasp what PCT is about.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

`[From Rick Marken (2013.06.28.1100)]

`I think the best way to proceed now is to have those of you who are

“taking” the course and wish to comment on any or all of the questions

posed in the study guide to post those comments as a reply to this

email. Then “B:CP Course: Preface” will be in the subject line of all

posts related to the study guide topic (the Preface in this case).

David and I will try to respond to the comments (when that seems like

it would be helpful) but otherwise we will just see what happens.

David and I will try to limit the discussion of each weeks topic to

one week, though comments can really follow as long as you like.

`


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Ted Cloak (2013/07/01/2120)]

I definitely agree with Richard; except that, later, as readers get more sophisticated about PCT, replace “organisms” with “control systems”.

Ted

[Rick Marken (2013.07.01.1850)]

Thanks Richard. I’ll wait a couple days to see if we get more comments and then make some comments myself. I would like to hear what folks have to say about the questions in the study guide. The goal of the class – seminar, actually, as you rightly called it in another post-- is to analyze B:CP as though we had never read it before. So the study guide questions are aimed at seeing what you think Bill was trying to communicate at each point in the book. Kind of like a close reading of the Illiad without knowing who won;-)

Best regards

Rick

···

On Monday, July 1, 2013, wrote:

[From: Richard Pfau (2013.07.01.0953 EDT)

Rick, David, et al.,

Bill’s sentence near the end of the Preface stating that “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” struck me as being an especially clear statement of what PCT is about, much clearer I would think to most psychologists and laypeople than the sentence which follows, “For human beings, behavior is the control of perception.

As such, perhaps when communicating with others new to PCT, the first statement should be used much more often, rather than the second less understandable statement.

If so used, the first statement then lends itself to emphasizing and clarifying to a learner what is meant by saying that behavior is a process – which leads to discussing control processes and PCT models of those processes. Such an emphasis on process, I think, will help learners grasp what PCT is about.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

[From Rick Marken (2013.06.28.1100)]

I think the best way to proceed now is to have those of you who are
"taking" the course and wish to comment on any or all of the questions
posed in the study guide to post those comments as a reply to this
email. Then "B:CP Course: Preface" will be in the subject line of all
posts related to the study guide topic (the Preface in this case).
David and I will try to respond to the comments (when that seems like
it would be helpful) but otherwise we will just see what happens.
David and I will try to limit the discussion of each weeks topic to
one week, though comments can really follow as long as you like.


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Rick Marken (2013.07.01.2200)]

Ted Cloak (2013/07/01/2120)

I definitely agree with Richard; except that, later, as readers get more sophisticated about PCT, replace “organisms” with “control systems”.

Ted

Richard Pfau (2013.07.01.0953 EDT)

Rick, David, et al.,

Bill’s sentence near the end of the Preface stating that “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” struck me as being an especially clear statement of what PCT is about, much clearer I would think to most psychologists and laypeople than the sentence which follows, “For human beings, behavior is the control of perception.

The Preface seems to me to be where Bill gives an overview of what the book is about. My “Study Questions” are aimed at getting some thoughts about who this Preface seems to be addressed to; who is the audience for this book? Can anyone comment on that?
The thesis of the book, which is described by the sentences you quote, is developed in the context of the debate between mechanistic and humanistic views of human nature. My study questions were aimed at getting your thoughts about what this debate was about; does anyone have any thoughts about that?
The Preface also says what the theory does and does not do; does anyone have any comments about what Bill is saying about that?
At the very end of the Preface we get the punchlines that Richard quotes: “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” and “For human beings, behavior is the control of perception.” Leaving aside for a moment the question of which is the clearer statement of PCT, can anyone comment on what they think a person who is reading B:CP for the first time might make of these sentences; a person who is completely unfamiliar with the theory described in the book? I know that when I first read these sentences I had no idea what they meant, but I did find them intriguing enough to get me to plow through the rest of the book to see what the heck they did mean.

Best regards

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Lloyd Klinedinst (2013.07.02.0117)]

Without providing any extensive content to my suggestion, right now, due to time constraints, I suggest we might ask what comes or doesn’t come
to us as an organism or control system in terms of denotations and connotations when the one or the other term is used:

denotations

organism (for me, for example, living systems of every size and stage) - control system (for me, nothing at the time of first reading, and then the meanings in the book)

connotations

organism (for me, for example, things alive, intriguing, inviting) - control system (for me at first, and some I interact with), nothing or with varying degrees of negative reaction: aversion)

And does it draw one as a reader to read more? And of course, are they both accurate, though quite different from their context, i.e. where they’re coming from?

Lloyd

I definitely agree with Richard; except that, later, as readers get more sophisticated about PCT, replace “organisms” with “control systems”.

Dr. Lloyd Klinedinst
10 Dover Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089-2001
HomeVoice: (636) 451-3232

Lloyd Mobile: (314)-609-5571
email: lloydk@klinedinst.com

website: http://www.klinedinst.com

···

On Jul 2, 2013, at 12:10 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@GMAIL.COM wrote:

[John Kirkland 2013 07 02 1900]

Some comments and observations.

The very first sentence of the Preface is a curtain-raiser. Where was the highway circa 1973? Perhaps paved by Skinner’s (1971) Beyond Freedom and Dignity, where it was argued purpose, reason and so on are redundant. What B:CP offers is an humanitarian perspective, at least at the ‘mankind’ level, by emphasising autonomy rather than behaviourism’s environmental agency. “A step on the path back…” Notice the humility, and hope. Check out Rand’s critique of BF&D: http://www.sntp.net/behaviorism/ayn_rand_skinner.htm

Then, in para #2 BP also deploys the concept ‘beyond’;subtle and highly significant.

Last sentence of para #3 has echoes of Koestler’s ‘Ghost in the machine’ about which BP would no doubt have been familiar since it too was a speed bump on behaviourism’s highway.

Social constructivism would be a major recent (post-1973 psychological) development. This is the Russian influence where, in short, we negotiate what we appropriate. I’ve recast the familiar ‘Today I can do alone what we both did yesterday’ as, ‘Together, I learn’. I’ll be interested to see how BP handles the concept of grammar (which is also ‘form without substance’) and number. This borders on a much larger question; what’s out there beyond perception? (Paragraph #5 offers a hint.)

I do have a small quibble with the concept ‘control’ which may be considered, along with brand name soft-drinks, as the major North American export. It is so much part of that culture denizens may fail to recognise its hegemonic influence. For outsiders it’s rather obvious. Yet, I am stuck finding a suitable alternative for the book’s title. I’ll come back to this later in the course. BTW, it could make an excellent finals exam question: Design and justify an alternative title.

As an aside, during the years I’ve been following CSGnet it would appear most authors are male. Has anybody else noticed this gender imbalance? If this observation is supported by data, then perhaps there is a need to reflect why it may be a boys’ club.

Kind regards

JohnK

···

On Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 11:14 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2013.06.28.1100)]

The official start of the “Behavior: The Control of Perception” course

is Monday, July 1, but I don’t think we need to be too strict about

schedule. So I am sending out the “Study Guide” for the first week,

which is on the Preface. I’m also resending the Syllabus in case some

people have joined in after I sent it out the first time.

I think the best way to proceed now is to have those of you who are

“taking” the course and wish to comment on any or all of the questions

posed in the study guide to post those comments as a reply to this

email. Then “B:CP Course: Preface” will be in the subject line of all

posts related to the study guide topic (the Preface in this case).

David and I will try to respond to the comments (when that seems like

it would be helpful) but otherwise we will just see what happens.

David and I will try to limit the discussion of each weeks topic to

one week, though comments can really follow as long as you like.

I will be saving the discussions we have each week and eventually turn

them into “lectures”. I would like to accompany these lectures with

relevant media – videos, demos, etc. I will try to suggest relevant

media but it would be great if those of you in the class who know of

what might be relevant media to either put a link to it in you

comments or email it to me directly (if it’s a large file) and I’ll

make it available to the group via my dropbox file.

And speaking of drop box, I will make all files relevant to the course

available as links to my dropbox folder. It’s very simple; here, for

example, are the pointers to the syllabus and study guide for the

preface.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/31298693/B.CP%20Course%20Syllabus.doc

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/31298693/Week%201%20Study%20Guide%2C%20%20Preface.doc

So here we go; let’s see what happens.

Best regards

Rick

Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com

I’ve read and re-read the preface and made three notes:

On page xiii, Bill writes “…the brain does not command the muscles to act.” That ought to get some attention from the cognitivists.

On page xiii, Bill also makes reference to one method for testing the appropriateness of anthropomorphisms that will be explained later in the book. Is that “The Test” or something else?

On page xiv, Bill writes that behavior “is a process.” There, he also writes that behavior “is the control of perception.” In my simplistic thinking that equates to “the control of perception is a process.”

Regarding Rick’s study guide for the preface, are we going to cover it a question at a time or simply dive in wherever suits us.

Finally, why aren’t we also discussing “The Secret of the Great Machine” which precedes the preface? I think it does much more to arouse interest in what is to come than the preface.

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

The Knowledge Workers’ Tool Room

Kindle Book: Tools for Knowledge Workers

[From Fred Nickols (2013.07.02.0756 EDT)]

I am resending this because the first time (at 0638 EDT) I neglected to put in the line above.

I’ve read and re-read the preface and made three notes:

On page xiii, Bill writes “…the brain does not command the muscles to act.” That ought to get some attention from the cognitivists.

On page xiii, Bill also makes reference to one method for testing the appropriateness of anthropomorphisms that will be explained later in the book. Is that “The Test” or something else?

On page xiv, Bill writes that behavior “is a process.” There, he also writes that behavior “is the control of perception.” In my simplistic thinking that equates to “the control of perception is a process.”

Regarding Rick’s study guide for the preface, are we going to cover it a question at a time or simply dive in wherever suits us.

Finally, why aren’t we also discussing “The Secret of the Great Machine” which precedes the preface? I think it does much more to arouse interest in what is to come than the preface.

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

The Knowledge Workers’ Tool Room

Kindle Book: Tools for Knowledge Workers

[From Rick Marken (2013.07.02.0820)]

Fred Nickols (2013.07.02.0756 EDT)

I’ve read and re-read the preface and made three notes:

On page xiii, Bill writes “…the brain does not command the muscles to act.” That ought to get some attention from the cognitivists.

Good point!

On page xiii, Bill also makes reference to one method for testing the appropriateness of anthropomorphisms that will be explained later in the book. Is that “The Test” or something else?

On page xiv, Bill writes that behavior “is a process.” There, he also writes that behavior “is the control of perception.” In my simplistic thinking that equates to “the control of perception is a process.”

Yes. Good point. Much of what is in the Preface is “foreshadowing” of what is to come.

Regarding Rick’s study guide for the preface, are we going to cover it a question at a time or simply dive in wherever suits us.

I would like people to “dive in” and answer whatever questions they feel competent to answer. We would like to do this as a class so I was hoping that the questions would provide some structure. We shall see. I think what I will do is wait to see what kinds of comments we get; then this weekend I’ll try to integrate the comments into a little “lecture” on the Preface. Then we’ll either move on to the next chapter, spend some more time on the Preface or just give up on it.

Finally, why aren’t we also discussing “The Secret of the Great Machine” which precedes the preface? I think it does much more to arouse interest in what is to come than the preface.

Good question. I just though we should review the material in the new edition that is also in the original edition (although I would like to go over the Emotion chapter, which was going to be in the original edition but was left out at the advice of the editors. But if you have comments on the “Great Machine” they would be most welcome.

Best

Rick

···

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

The Knowledge Workers’ Tool Room

Kindle Book: Tools for Knowledge Workers

Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.02 2000 BST)]

What do you see as the distinction between mechanism and humanism?

What is meant by humanism in this context? I assume it doesn't refer to the non-religious life-stance.

Regards,
Rupert

[Rick Marken (2013.07.02.1705)]

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.02 2000 BST)]
  > What do you see as the distinction between mechanism and

humanism?

  What is meant by humanism in this context? I assume it doesn't

refer to the non-religious life-stance

RM: I think Bill kind of defines that in the preface. Humanism is a view of people as purposeful and autonomous. This is contrasted with the mechanistic/ behaviorist view, where people are seen as machines whose behavior has causes but, like the behavior of balls rolling down inclined planes, no purpose.

Best

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.07.02.20.12]

I don't know whether it is just my own experience in coming to

psychology only after an engineering Master’s degree, but I have
always had a bit of a feeling that Bill was tilting at windmills in
this. Obviously his experience (and everyone else’s) was different
from mine, and his attacks might be justified. Where I see
windmills, there might be real giants that I did not encounter in my
education or thereafter.
No, I did not encounter the idea of humans as control systems until
I joined CSGnet’s predecessor. But neither did I encounter an
obvious contrast between mechanistic and autonomously purposeful
approaches to the study of psychology. My own introduction to
psychology involved an engineering approach to perception and
perceptual after-effects; my teachers extolled the slaying of the
behaviourist dogma and the new (in the late 1950s) freedom to
investigate conscious (and unconscious) cognitive processes
including purpose. One of my early colleagues, a South African
called Jim (J.G.) Taylor (no relation) wrote a book “The Behavioural
Basis of Perception” (Yale Univerity Press, 1962) in which he argued
from Hullian behaviourist theory that only through the development
of multiple feedback loops between behaviour and perceptual
variation could new perceptions be formed.
JGT did not realize that control was the other side of that coin,
but he demonstrated in many experiments that only if people actively
behaved using novel functions of sensory input would they learn to
perceive those aspects of the environment – and those experiments
(many of which followed on those of the Gestaltist of the 1930s)
both predicted and resulted in some apparently anomalous perceptual
consequences. In PCT terms, JGT was studying the reorganization of
the perceptual part of the hierarchy through reference value
variation, despite coming at it as a student of Hull, one of the key
theoretical behaviourists.
I think that had JGT known Bill and vice-versa, they would have been
great collaborators, and PCT would have been considerably advanced
from where it is now, at least in the theory of reorganization.
Looking back on it, it seems odd to me that, given my undergraduate
background in control and my association with engineers who were
developing servo theory, I did not spot the lack of control in JGT’s
book when I reviewed it. Nor did I when later we worked together for
a while. in the middle 60s. It just never occurred to me, but that
does not mean that either I or JGT were “mechanists” or “humanists”.
I think we were both, in the same sense that Bill seems to describe
himself. And I think most of my other colleagues were, too.
I’m sure that there are and have been many people of the kind Bill
opposes in the Preface. What I am saying is that I did not encounter
many of them in my early encounters with psychology and
psychologists. I suspect most of those I knew personally would have
read Bill’s words: “The traditional arguments between mechanists and
humanists…” and said: “Bah. Armchair philosophers – why does he
waste space arguing with them?”
For me, the most interesting part of the Preface comes at the end,
where Bill says he struggled with what he saw as a need to include
“specific behavioral content” until he realized that the important
thing was the bare mechanism of perceptual control and the
structures into which that mechanisms might fit (notably the
hierarchy as a possible one).
Martin

···

[Rick Marken (2013.07.02.1705)]

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.02 2000 BST)]
          > What do you see as the distinction between mechanism

and humanism?

          What is meant by humanism in this context? I assume it

doesn’t refer to the non-religious life-stance

  RM: I think Bill kind of defines that in the preface. Humanism is

a view of people as purposeful and autonomous. This is contrasted
with the mechanistic/ behaviorist view, where people are seen as
machines whose behavior has causes but, like the behavior of balls
rolling down inclined planes, no purpose.

[Lloyd Klinedinst (2013.07.02.1959)]
So I pick up Behavior: The Control of Perception (2005) and begin to ‘read’. I will be sharing as one aspect of my course participation a kind of reader experience approach. If PCT is a model of human behavior, it should account for my experience of reading ‘it’.

One dialectical approach in reading which I take is to see a text not only as a linear sequential, but as a spatial gestalt composition/structure.

Beginning sequentially I notice first the title Behavior: The Control of Perception. Each major term, behavior control perception, having many many texts devoted to each it. Each major term have so many meanings! Then spatially I look at the Index and Glossary - only partial occurrence and definition of these key terms. I play with alternative prepositions relating perception to control and behavior and think of PCT's parallel to democracy. I have a parallel notion of democracy and PCT: of control of, by, and for perception with PCT replacing the 'demo' (the people) in democracy with the control loops in PCT.

I also notice on the front cover the human figure in a somewhat 'golden mean' pose. But this Vitruvian Man is superimposed on our world or globe image and mildly disturbingly for me - within a gear that interlocks with two other gears.  Just what is suggested for a prospective reader to think?

Then I look at the inside front cover with the picture of Bill Powers and his bio, both bespeaking his humanism (describing himself as '*a blue collar type*' and individuality yet his remarkable scientific and technological accomplishments.

Facing this bio the repeated image on the title page of the front cover with the same questions I posed earlier for a perspective reader.

As I proceed linearly page by page from the title page through the colophon and touching dedication page I come to a left side page, a verso on which whole page is a wonderfully remarkable image from a sketch of two political celebrities starting the Corliss steam engine at the 1876 International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. On the facing recto perhaps an alternative preface to the first edition - entitled The Secret of the Great Machine. This is the elephant in the doorway which we would do well not to ignore. Fred Nickols also notice this omission earlier today. This essay written about 2005 for the reprint of BCP reminds me of the 2010 Manchester lecture which I brought to our attention earlier: The Tank that Filled Itself. In this as in the 2010 essay Bill is so clear, so graphic, so convincing to me of the difference between perceptual control theory and all the other so-called scientific theories of living systems and human behavior. He is also so painfully aware of the struggle he has had - to change the course of history in this scientific endeavor. Yet he ends this 2005 prefatory essay with hope.

Only then is the sequential reader admitted to the contents page on ix and the two figures pages x and xi. Finally, the verso page xii begins the original preface.

I for one would prefer we NOT begin this course with the preface. Or having begun with it, include The Secret of the Great Machine. How and why could we get past the elephant (no politics intended) in the doorway? (I know Rick replied to Fred's post [Good question. I just though [*sic*] we should review the material in the new edition that is also in the original edition (although I would like to go over the Emotion chapter, which was going to be in the original edition but was left out at the advice of the editors. But if you have comments on the "Great Machine" they would be most welcome.]

Before proceeding to the Preface I would just like to reiterate and explained my comment about the contents page, the glossary, bibliography, index and endpapers. I hope we consider the spatial composition of BCP and its text for completeness and updating for greater precision. A preview of this is the instance of my frustration when I come to the preface reference 'anthropomorphize' and then don't find it in the index to check right away for its occurrence(s). This reiterates my request for updating the Glossary. It adds a request for an text edition of BCP in order to do word searches and find all occurrences of key terms.
  • PREFACE

Bill begins the preface contrasting his humanistic bias with a mechanistic mentality. He hopes for a third way rising above the horns of the dilemma, resolving the contradictions in the paradox of PCT ("This book presents an approach which may bring together these apparently irreconcilable points of view. … This process puts experience before theory but paradoxically shows that much that seems uniquely human is after all only acquired mechanism. xii)

What perhaps is not a part of his consciousness in this preface is how both humanistic and mechanistic views will totally turn off fundamentalist scientists or any fundamentalist person who would happen to pick up the text? Any concern here?

At the bottom of the first page of the preface I shuddered at the mention of the ghost, the ghost in the machine. But I am intrigued about reading further and further becomes deeper with his mention of soul, Atman, Awareness (it's just the capital that bothers me) but comes back realistically (i.e. materialistically, for me) to write, "It is myself, yourself."

Finally, in the first rereading of the Preface for this course, the comparison with a passage in Darwin's Origin Of Species sidled up:

from the last section 14 Recapitulation and Conclusion, 3rd ¶:

That many and grave objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through natural selection, I do not deny. I have endeavoured to give to them their full force. Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts should have been perfected, not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination insuperably great, cannot be considered real if we admit the following propositions, namely,— that gradations in the perfection of any organ or instinct, which we may consider, either do now exist or could have existed, each good of its kind,— that all organs and instincts are, in ever so slight a degree, variable,— and, lastly, that there is a struggle for existence leading to the preservation of each profitable deviation of structure or instinct. The truth of these propositions cannot, I think, be disputed.

And a final quotation for coincidental and humorous concluding effect: from an Irish scientist and wit reported to have remarked about the invention of the steam engine (of all things): "Yes it works in practice. OK, but does it work in theory?"

So much for my first notes on our first 'assignment' which Rick did not get me to strictly observe. So much for proving autonomous human behavior. I have other thinking rushing to mind related to more detailed examination of the preface, and, of course, the 'other preface'. And I want to interact with other observations about the text from the CSGers who have posted so far.

Thanks, mates.

Lloyd

Dr. Lloyd Klinedinst
10 Dover Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089-2001
HomeVoice: (636) 451-3232

Lloyd Mobile: (314)-609-5571
email: lloydk@klinedinst.com

website: http://www.klinedinst.com

[Lloyd Klinedinst (2013.07.02.2008)]

AND the ‘other preface’:

from a June 10 email I received from Bill’s sister, Alice McElhone:

I thought you might like this reference to the picture of the Corliss Steam Engine that serves as the frontispiece of the second edition of BCP (the picture was on display at the Memorial, thanks to his children). That picture and the essay that follows came about as he was pondering how to begin the new edition. He told me he had a picture in his head that he’d seen many years ago. It had to do with an ancient steam engine. So we Wiki’d and googled until we found it at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and obtained permission to use it for the book (2005). It made him very happy.
Alice

Lloyd

Dr. Lloyd Klinedinst
10 Dover Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089-2001
HomeVoice: (636) 451-3232

Lloyd Mobile: (314)-609-5571
email: lloydk@klinedinst.com

website: http://www.klinedinst.com

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.03 1100 BST)]

Having also read the "The Secret of the Great Machine" a question occurs to me.

What is the difference between a control system and a self-regulating system? As an aside, I would say that a control system is a
self-regulating system, but not necessarily the other way around.

Regards,
Rupert

···

On 03/07/2013 01:04, Richard Marken wrote:

[Rick Marken (2013.07.02.1705)]

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.02 2000 BST)]

> What do you see as the distinction between mechanism and humanism?

What is meant by humanism in this context? I assume it doesn't refer to the non-religious life-stance

RM: I think Bill kind of defines that in the preface. Humanism is a view of people as purposeful and autonomous. This is contrasted with the mechanistic/ behaviorist view, where people are seen as machines whose behavior has causes but, like the behavior of balls rolling down inclined planes, no purpose.

Best

Rick

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>> rsmarken@gmail.com
<http://www.mindreadings.com>> www.mindreadings.com

[From Erling Jorgensen (2013.07.02 18.15 EST)]

John Kirkland 2013 07 02 1900

Hi John,

I appreciate the comments & observations that you raise.

The very first sentence of the Preface is a curtain-raiser. Where was the
highway circa 1973? Perhaps paved by Skinner's (1971) Beyond Freedom and
Dignity, where it was argued purpose, reason and so on are redundant. What
B:CP offers is an humanitarian perspective, at least at the 'mankind'
level, by emphasising autonomy rather than behaviourism's environmental
agency.

I think you are on the right track by bringing up Skinner's manifesto,
Beyond Freedom and Dignity. That was very much part of the zeitgeist in
the early 1970's. I had forgotton that.

I agree, that Bill Powers' implicit audience was the field of psychology,
represented by the behaviorists on one wing & the humanists on the other
wing. I remember supplementary texts of that time period promoting
humanism as a "Third Force" in psychology, trying to hold sway against
behaviorist determinism primarily, & secondarily against the intrapsychic
psychodynamic mechanism which was already in decline.

Then, in para #2 BP also deploys the concept 'beyond';subtle and highly
significant.

Yes. Contra Skinner, Powers' highly mechanistic model leads beyond
mechanism, (& beyond the intuitive subjectivity of the humanists,) to a
deep understanding of purposiveness. As Bill writes, "This book presents
an approach which may bring together these apparently irreconcilable
points of view" (B:CP, 1st ed., p.x).

It's a highly balanced approach, as the rest of the book makes clear:
human autonomy, rather than automaton; a bias toward humanism, yet
thoroughly scientific; a "mechanistically representable structure" (p.x),
that still has room (& a function?) for Awareness.

The Preface prefigures many things later in the book. One that I have
come to appreciate increasingly more over time is the matter of circular
causality. Bill's nod of the hat in this direction is a passing critique
of the behaviorists being "bound by the cause-effect laws governing the
behavior of matter" (p.ix). I remain convinced that few people fully
realize the new entropic reality that comes into being by means of circular
causality. As Erwin Schrodinger noted (What Is Life?), it is negentropy
that is constitutive of Life. And I believe the mechanism of
(temporarily) 'evading the decay into entropy' is negative feedback
control.

To jump ahead to one of your later paragraphs, with your request for "a
suitable alternative for the book's title", maybe this is my bid for a
title that might grab me: "Stabilizing Sensory Input: Creating a New
Entropic Reality." (I notice, as a read back over these paragraphs, that
this title is still rather abstract & cryptic. So I don't expect hoards
of folks jumping on this particular band wagon...)

I do have a small quibble with the concept 'control' which may be
considered, along with brand name soft-drinks, as the major North American
export. It is so much part of that culture denizens may fail to recognise
its hegemonic influence.

Yes, there is definitely a credibility problem with the use of that
word "control." And it embodies & partakes of a cultural predeliction
common within North America. Earlier discussions on CSGNet have
periodically raised your query thus: 'What else might we call 'control'?
At one point I favored the created word, "Correctify." When I need a
better synonym, I think I've settled in my own mind on the basic notion
of "Stabilizing" perceptual variables.

As an aside, during the years I've been following CSGnet it would appear
most authors are male. Has anybody else noticed this gender imbalance?

As a matter of fact, I have wondered about this, & my wife & I have
discussed it from time to time. My working hypothesis is that it has
something to do with the engineering bent, & origins, of PCT. But that
is more of a description & reformulation of the observation, than an
explanation. I agree that it would be worthwhile to "reflect why it may
be a boys' club," to use your words.

Let me add one final prefiguring, one of great power for me, that occurs
within the Preface. On page xi, Bill says:

"Rather, the central problem has been to find a plausible model which can
behave at all. This has required a long effort to penetrate beneath
surface descriptions to see what is being taken for granted."

This seems to me a wonderfully succinct description of Bill Powers' method
itself. I continually witnessed him seeking & asking about 'what is being
taken for granted.' It is that intellectual rigor, & the amazing working
model that emerged from its relentless pursuit, which is his greatest gift
to us.

Thanks for an insightful post.

All the best,
Erling

[From: Richard Pfau (2013.07.03.1206 EDT)]

Rupert,

From a few references that I’ve seen concerning self-regulating systems, the concept behind such systems seem essentially identical to that of control systems. For example Fitzsimons and Finkel define self-regulation “broadly as the processes by which the self alters its own responses or inner states in a goal-directed manner” [in K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister (eds.), Handbook of Self-regulation (2nd ed.), New York: Guilford Press, 2011, p. 408]. Similarly, Mithaug states that “Self-regulation theory assumes that the behavior of all living organisms, including humans, is a function of discepancies between actual and preferred conditions. When discrepancies occur, the organism responds to reduce the discrepancy” (D. E. Mithaug, Self-Regulation Theory, Wesport, CT: Praeger, 1993, p.123).

And so, if a self-regulating system is not necessarily a control system, as you indicate in the e-mail that follows, I am interested in learning what the differences are if any (in order to clarify my own concepts of these terms). Is it that the idea of control system focuses more on the mechanism and processes whereas discussions of self-regulating systems are more generally descriptive and abstract? But even if such is the case, self-regulating systems do seem to be control systems.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

···

-----Original Message-----

From: Rupert Young rupert@MOONSIT.CO.UK

To: CSGNET CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU

Sent: Wed, Jul 3, 2013 5:55 am

Subject: Re: B:CP Course: Preface

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.03 1100 BST)] Having also read the "The Secret of the Great Machine" a question occurs to me. What is the difference between a control system and a self-regulating system? As an aside, I would say that a control system is a self-regulating system, but not necessarily the other way around.
Regards, Rupert

[From Alice McElhone @apmce@benchpress.com

···

Sent: 2013 07 03 12.52. PM

Nice of you to notice the paucity of women. Once clue:

I was born before 1950 and don’t have a Ph.D.

I’m learning a lot, though and enjoying it.

-----Original Message-----

From: Erling Jorgensen ejorgensen@RIVERBENDCMHC.ORG

To: CSGNET CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU

Sent: Wed, Jul 3, 2013 9:52 am

Subject: Re: B:CP Course: Preface

`
[From Erling Jorgensen (2013.07.02 18.15 EST)] > John Kirkland 2013 07 02 1900 Hi John, I appreciate the comments & observations that you raise. >The very first sentence of the Preface is a curtain-raiser. Where was the
>highway circa 1973? Perhaps paved by Skinner's (1971) Beyond Freedom and
>Dignity, where it was argued purpose, reason and so on are redundant. What
>B:CP offers is an humanitarian perspective, at least at the 'mankind'
>level, by emphasising autonomy rather than behaviourism's environmental
>agency. I think you are on the right track by bringing up Skinner's manifesto, Beyond Freedom and Dignity. That was very much part of the zeitgeist in the early 1970's. I had forgotton that. I agree, that Bill Powers' implicit audience was the field of psychology, represented by the behaviorists on one wing & the humanists on the other wing. I remember supplementary texts of that time period promoting humanism as a "Third Force" in psychology, trying to hold sway against behaviorist determinism primarily, & secondarily against the intrapsychic psychodynamic mechanism which was already in decline. >Then, in para #2 BP also deploys the concept 'beyond';subtle and highly >significant.
Yes. Contra Skinner, Powers' highly mechanistic model leads beyond mechanism, (& beyond the intuitive subjectivity of the humanists,) to a deep understanding of purposiveness. As Bill writes, "This book presents an approach which may bring together these apparently irreconcilable points of view" (B:CP, 1st ed., p.x). It's a highly balanced approach, as the rest of the book makes clear: human autonomy, rather than automaton; a bias toward humanism, yet thoroughly scientific; a "mechanistically representable structure" (p.x), that still has room (& a function?) for Awareness. The Preface prefigures many things later in the book. One that I have come to appreciate increasingly more over time is the matter of circular causality. Bill's nod of the hat in this direction is a passing critique of the behaviorists being "bound by the cause-effect laws governing the behavior of matter" (p.ix). I remain convinced that few people fully realize the new entropic reality that comes into being by means of circular causality. As Erwin Schrodinger noted (What Is Life?), it is negentropy that is constitutive of Life. And I believe the mechanism of (temporarily) 'evading the decay into entropy' is negative feedback control. To jump ahead to one of your later paragraphs, with your request for "a suitable alternative for the book's title", maybe this is my bid for a title that might grab me: "Stabilizing Sensory Input: Creating a New Entropic Reality." (I notice, as a read back over these paragraphs, that this title is still rather abstract & cryptic. So I don't expect hoards of folks jumping on this particular band wagon...) >I do have a small quibble with the concept 'control' which may be
>considered, along with brand name soft-drinks, as the major North American
>export. It is so much part of that culture denizens may fail to recognise
>its hegemonic influence. Yes, there is definitely a credibility problem with the use of that word "control." And it embodies & partakes of a cultural predeliction common within North America. Earlier discussions on CSGNet have periodically raised your query thus: 'What else might we call 'control'? At one point I favored the created word, "Correctify." When I need a better synonym, I think I've settled in my own mind on the basic notion of "Stabilizing" perceptual variables. >As an aside, during the years I've been following CSGnet it would appear
>most authors are male. Has anybody else noticed this gender imbalance? As a matter of fact, I have wondered about this, & my wife & I have discussed it from time to time. My working hypothesis is that it has something to do with the engineering bent, & origins, of PCT. But that is more of a description & reformulation of the observation, than an explanation. I agree that it would be worthwhile to "reflect why it may be a boys' club," to use your words. Let me add one final prefiguring, one of great power for me, that occurs within the Preface. On page xi, Bill says: "Rather, the central problem has been to find a plausible model which can behave at all. This has required a long effort to penetrate beneath surface descriptions to see what is being taken for granted." This seems to me a wonderfully succinct description of Bill Powers' method itself. I continually witnessed him seeking & asking about 'what is being taken for granted.' It is that intellectual rigor, & the amazing working model that emerged from its relentless pursuit, which is his greatest gift to us. Thanks for an insightful post. All the best, Erling
`

From Ted Cloak (2013.07.03.1130 MST)

The difference is that PCT specifically states that perception is what is controlled; i.e., it doesn’t assume that the machine/unit knows what is going on in its environment, so it can only control its perceptions of, presumably, what is going on in its environment.

As I point out in the Power Point Presentation (q.v.), what the organism is controlling is not necessarily the environment that a committee of scientists might describe but rather, for instance, its perception of the intent of another organism.

HTH

Ted

[From: Richard Pfau (2013.07.03.1206 EDT)]

Rupert,

From a few references that I’ve seen concerning self-regulating systems, the concept behind such systems seem essentially identical to that of control systems. For example Fitzsimons and Finkel define self-regulation “broadly as the processes by which the self alters its own responses or inner states in a goal-directed manner” [in K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister (eds.), Handbook of Self-regulation (2nd ed.), New York: Guilford Press, 2011, p. 408]. Similarly, Mithaug states that “Self-regulation theory assumes that the behavior of all living organisms, including humans, is a function of discepancies between actual and preferred conditions. When discrepancies occur, the organism responds to reduce the discrepancy” (D. E. Mithaug, Self-Regulation Theory, Wesport, CT: Praeger, 1993, p.123).

And so, if a self-regulating system is not necessarily a control system, as you indicate in the e-mail that follows, I am interested in learning what the differences are if any (in order to clarify my own concepts of these terms). Is it that the idea of control system focuses more on the mechanism and processes whereas discussions of self-regulating systems are more generally descriptive and abstract? But even if such is the case, self-regulating systems do seem to be control systems.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Rupert Young rupert@MOONSIT.CO.UK
To: CSGNET CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Sent: Wed, Jul 3, 2013 5:55 am
Subject: Re: B:CP Course: Preface

[From Rupert Young(2013.07.03 1100 BST)]  Having also read the "The Secret of the Great Machine" a question occurs to me.   What is the difference between a control system and a self-regulating system? As an aside, I would say that a control system is a  self-regulating system, but not necessarily the other way around.

Regards, Rupert