[From Dag Forssell (920516-1)]
Rick Marken (920513 15:30)
The words in caps seem to describe perceptual VARIABLES -- one can
perceive degrees of courage, conviction, generosity, etc. How do I
derive from the HPCT model what value is the right value to set for each
of these variables? I just don't think PCT has anything to say about
this other than "people can control perceptual variables like courage,
conviction, etc.". See the problem with talking about this stuff. People
CARE about these things. I CARE about these things. But you are claiming
that certain levels of these variables are RIGHT.
You cannot derive any values at all from the HPCT model, especially when
it is viewed as a mathematical spreadsheet. I am not claiming that a
certain level of these variables or references are RIGHT. You are
inferring that from the chapter I quoted. What the chapter said to me (in
the part I wanted to draw attention to) was that most people upon
reflection come up with most of this list. I have meant to offer the
observation that perhaps a lot of people get along quite well in spite
of holding religious systems concepts that are totally incompatible
because they tend to set references at the principle (what Ed calls
standards) level SIMILARLY anyway. (I have used the word "reasonable,"
meaning well thought out, but never in my mind suggested ABSOLUTE or
CONSTANT; that is your interpretation and contribution - it does make for
feisty argument). Perhaps that shows that more "down to earth" systems
concepts /understanding based on experience instead of "intellectual
/religious" constructs is what really influences the principles most
people go by.
I do understand that there is not just one "right" reference value for
a perceptual variable anywhere in the hierarchical structure.
I do not understand your emphasis on VARIABLE to describe the list, as
if to disqualify reference. As I understand it, precisely the same
perception that we call the reference is what "behaves" to create the
specified perception of what we call the variable. The words used to
describe the reference and the variable perceptions are identical, since
the perceptions are identical. You have to specify that you are referring
to one or the other. Neither is fixed, since the reference is set at the
moment as part of the entire, interacting hierarchy.
"Such a position of normalness," writes Professor Philip H.
[must be "normlessness" no? -- rm]
Yes, my transcription error -- df
I can see how this segment raised your ire/suggested that I am advocating
ABSOLUTES. It was part of the chapter and the argument in favor of
Personally, I believe it comes naturally to want to find some meaning in
your own life. I think meaning can be found in secular systems concepts
just as well as in religious systems concepts.
Rick Marken (920513 09:00)
I think I will do this modeling effort; but my intuition is that the
only way to solve the problem of multiple interacting control systems,
operating in the same environment, is to align the references for the
highest order systems that are controlling the same perceptual
Great! Maybe we will be able to illustrate more of how control systems
disturb one another. You can get part of the way there with rubber bands,
but only on one level, of course. I share your expectation about the
requirement. This means that we have to talk until we have the same
systems concepts, after all. It will not be enough to say that you
subscribe to the same principles.
This is what Greg (920514) observes, as applied to each tribe or subgroup
in its context.
This entire exchange has caused me to reflect on my own assumptions and
understandings. My ideas relating to character education go back to 1980-
83. I have not scrutinized these particular systems concepts in the light
of PCT until now. I have already reorganized some, but have not settled
down yet. I find merit in Ricks observation that: It's all control. (That
is what the closed loop handshake stands for)!
HPCT as a model has much to offer. My interests focus on how to teach and
apply it. Since we live in a real world with finite degrees of freedom,
and a boss reality to study, it gets important to reflect individually
on the specific perceptions you fill your own hierarchy with at all
levels, so that you can control well. Numbers are not enough. As a
parent, manager, teacher or counselor, it is my challenge to assist those
who want to be assisted to fill themselves with good information. Good
information will include an understanding of PCT.
I have just reviewed "An agenda for the Control Theory Group" in Living
Control Systems II. On pages 171-172, Bill writes:
It's strange how difficult it is to find applications for the first new
conception of behavior in over three centuries. We've all had this
trouble, but those of us who have had the most trouble are those who
know the most about the life sciences. I think that's a clue. Think of
clinical psychologists (we have a few of them here). What could clinical
psychologists do with control theory? Well, they could play how-and-why,
they could try to find out what the client is controlling for. But how
would they use the techniques? Probably to try to help people get over
anxieties, phobias, compulsions, depression, or stress. And that's where
I think the difficulty starts.
No matter what discipline in the life sciences you are attached to as
a scientist or layman, when you look around for something to study, you
find that the human pie has already been sliced. Everything has a name.
People study personality, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, and
preferences. They study mental illness. They study customs. They study
marital problems. They study crime. They aren't trying to find out if
such things really exist: if they have names, they must exist. The
categories in which we think about human behavior have already been
established, and that is really why it's so hard to wedge control theory
into the structure.
It occurs to me that some of the problem I have just wrestled with is
what Bill describes here.
There is no such thing as character. There is only effective control.
Internalizing the systems concept of yourself as an autonomous control
system and adopting the same systems concept an behalf of others (a value
judgement) may lead you to principles of similar appearance as those that
have been labeled character. As I said, I have not settled yet.
Additionally, perhaps there is no such thing as violence, coercion,
social control, influence etc., which it is why it becomes difficult to
distinguish one from the other.
What there is is control by one system which creates disturbances for
another control system. If two systems control the same variable, you
have to look at the coupling of each to the variable: loose or tight, and
the resources (or amplification or force) available to each. In arm
wrestling, two control systems control the same variable with tight
coupling. The control system with the most force minimizes its error
signal. The other system gets a large error signal.
Bill Powers (920512.0930)
Influences should be thought of as disturbances. That is, you can
perform an act that by itself would alter the other's perceptual world
if it were the only influence.....
It makes sense to me to see influences as disturbances. Can you see
information as disturbances also? In one book on listening I read long
ago, the author suggested that in active listening, you choose to
anticipate what the speaker will say next, see what he does say, and
compare the two. When you guessed right, you confirm with satisfaction.
When the speaker says something else, you think about it intensely.
Either way, you are alert and hear well. Of course, you may control so
you hear what you want to hear instead. You put the words into your own
With this in mind, I can think of reading a post as a lot of small and
some not so small disturbances. I have to recognize that I am disturbing
just the same when I post. Some of the information flies by with minimal
disturbance, some is unsettling.
As a parent, I create disturbances for my child in many ways, which the
child has to deal with. Thus the child fills with experiences
/perceptions /understanding throughout the hierarchical structure. If I
plan the disturbances well, the child learns to control well. I could say
that I deliberately create error signals in my kid. This thinking agrees
with Chuck Tuckers post (920514).
Bill said ((920512.0930):
Parents influence their children by (for example) advice, commands,
example, demonstration, and story-telling.
I am now beginning to think of all these forms of influence as made up
of disturbances. Make sense?
I am controlling and perceiving as best I can.