[From Bruce Abbott (960912.1425 EST)]
Rick Marken (960912.1300) --
Circular causation means that all variables in the causal loop are both
cause and effect _at the same time_; in a closed loop it is impossible to
point to two variables (x and y) and say "that variable (say, x) is the cause
of variations in that variabke (y)". This is because x is a cause of y _at
the same time_ that x is an effect of y. The notion that the causes of
behavior "lurk" within a control loop is very misleading because it leads one
to think that behavior _does_ have causes.
Want to run that by me again, Rick? I could _swear_ you just said that "x"
(e.g., disturbance) is a cause of y" (e.g., behavior) AND that it would be
misleading to suggest that behavior _does_ have causes.
But I thought you knew that;-(
I know what circular causation is. I also know that circular causation is
still causation. You seem to be having difficulty with that part.
The term "behavior" itself is ambiguous. It is true that disturbances cause
behavior when "behavior" means "output effect on a controlled variable" or
And, of course, that is exactly what I mean by "behavior." Now you are
agreeing with me that behavior DOES have causes. Boy, _someone_ is confused
here, and it sure ain't me . . .
The causes of output are not the "causes
of behavior" that psychologists are looking for (and think they are
discovering); psychologists are looking for "causes of behavior" that have
their effects via the organism; these are the "causes of behavior" that do
I thought you knew that;-(
I do, but you didn't SAY that. You said, flatly, that behavior is uncaused.
And, of course, that ain't so.
It is also true that, when control is good, inner references can be said
to cause behavior when "behavior" means "controlled perceptual variable".
The causal path that mediates this "behavior" does go through the organism--
the reference signal and controlled perception are both inside the
organism -- but, again, the causal influence of reference (purposes) on
perceptual input is not the kind of "cause of behavior" psychologists are
I thought you knew that, too;-(
I do, but ditto my previous comment. What you _said_ was that behavior has
no causes. If you had said what you _now_ say, I wouldn't have disagreed.
I thought you knew that. ;-(