Bosnia; history and behavior

[From Bill Powers (930501.1200)]

Bob Clark (930430.1520) --

Very nice review of the Bosnia situation. You show very clearly
that the real cause is trying to control control systems. It may
take a long time, but the revolt is inevitable: not because
revolts have occurred before, but because of human nature.

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Bruce Nevin (930430.1305) --

The past is brought into the present in ways that do not seem
to be recognized in this discussion. Social arrangements are
historically contingent, and that is independent of our
knowledge of their history.

Dan Miller, in his beautifully-wrought post, was trying to say
that the past is NOT brought into the present. What exists in the
present is only a memory, and a memory subject to all the
fallibility of human perception, recording, and playback. What
REALLY happened in the past is irrelevant; all that matters now
is how we remember it, and how we choose to deal with the
memories. What we remember IS the past for us, regardless of the
accuracy of the memory.

Your comments about the evolution of language, while interesting
for their own sake, don't bear on this problem. It doesn't
matter, now, how we came to be using the word "horse" instead of
"pferd" or "cheval." Our usage might have come about through many
alternate paths, or we might have ended up using a different
word. What matters is that we need a way to refer to that big
thingamajig over there that makes those funny sounds and runs
fast. If the word weren't "horse" it would be something else.

People often hear words spoken by others and remember them
inaccurately. That's how language changes, I claim: through
mistakes, not systematically. There may be some system in that
hard-to-say words are remembered in an easier-to-say form, but I
can't see that there would be any particular abstract rules for
transforming one generation of language into the next. Language
is just what we remember it to be, and how it got that way makes
no difference now -- except to people interested in how it got
that way. To a mere user of language, language has no history
going back before childhood.

The point of all this is that everything that matters in human
behavior has to exist right now, or it can have no influence on
behavior. The past is totally gone, wiped out, nonexistent, with
every passing microsecond. What we call the past exists now, in
this very instant, or it doesn't exist at all (the same is true
of the "future"). How your hands got into their present position
over the keyboard is irrelevant to what they are going to do
next. The previous sentence is gone forever, all that remains of
it being in your present-time memory, unless you go back and read
it again, making it a present-time experience again (immediately
to be transformed into a memory).

When we model behavior, we establish initial conditions in the
model before we start it running. How we established them, or
what the previous conditions were, has no bearing on the way the
model runs. It begins from the way we set it up at the start, and
for all that it matters to the behavior of the model, the whole
universe might have popped into existence at just that moment. It
is only the NOW that determines what happens next.
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To say that in PCT heaven there will be no rigidly held
reference perceptions and all will consequently be well I think
overlooks this matter of social cooperation.

It also overlooks the fact that having no rigidly held reference
perceptions is a reference perception. Should we hold rigidly to
it?
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Best,

Bill P.