evolution of system concepts

[From Rick Marken (930102.1200)]

Bill Powers (930102.0930) --

Your discussion of a possible scenario for the historical
evolution of system concept beliefs -- from animism to
anti-animism to control theory -- would be a wonderful basis
for your next book about control theory. Evidence of
the "over-generalization" of animism is rife in the written
and spoken legends of all cultures. Evidence of the over-
generalization of anti-animism is what much of our research
in PCT has been about -- trying to show where the non-animistic
models of science DON'T apply. The final section of the book
could discuss our efforts to "sort things out" -- just what
aspects of behavior are "animistic" (purposive) and which are not.

One of the nice things about this way of presenting PCT is that
is shows the enormity of the revolution that PCT represents. I
think the scientific revolutions documented by Kuhn have all
occurred within the "anti-animistic" framework (though there have
been some unsatisfying attempts to bring animistic concepts back
into the anti-animistic tradition via quantum physics). PCT is,
indeed, an attempt to show the limits of "anti-animism" and to
bring back animism where it is appropriate. I think this way of
developing PCT ideas would not only be intrinsicly fascinating
(to those of us who love both animism and anti-animism) but it also
would make it clear why there might be considerably more resistence
to the control revolution (given the fact that anti-animism is one of
the pillars of ALL science) than to revolutions WITHIN science (like
relativity, evolution or whatever). The control revolution is not
a revolution WITHING scince; it is a revolution OF science; the last
time a revolution of that magnitude occured was probabaly when science
itself separated from "religion" -- and the belief in "anti-animism"
took off.

If you don't write this book, Bill, I will! (Visions of a PBS
documentary are already starting to dance in my head). That was
a really incredible post.



PS. Dag. I was thinking of you also when I wrote the above. I think
the ideas in Bill's post would be a GREAT way to develop your thoughts
about the scientific revolution represented by Demming and PCT; both
are showing where animism was inappropriately "generalized" OUT
OF SCIENCE. Demming could be thought of a someone who noticed that
animism is sometimes appropriate -- in particular, when applied to
the behavior of animals.