forwarded message of mine, as an example of how PCT keeps coming to mind

Christian Ross wrote:

In light of ES's explicit converational return to

the tension between

"volition" and "physics", I want to re-post this

most interesting

essay entitled "The Biology of Free Will".

I find many of the particulars in this paper very
interesting, and I do think many of these must be
relevant to the thesis being argued. My frustration
is that these seem to form a sequence of independent
facts, without an overarching theory. I expect these
facts to serve as components or examples of a larger
whole, but so far I have not seen the unifying ideas a
paper like this should provide.

Admittedly, I've not truly read this paper, and
certianly not studied it. The following heading,
however, is very discouraging to me. I am especially
frustrated by the way the author uses the term
"mechanistic control" as though no conceptual
difficulties attend it.

Here it is: "IV. The organism frees itself from
mechanistic control as an interconnected,
intercommunicating whole"

My irritation turns on the word "control". This word
can have a technical meaning. In the absence of a
technical meaning, it has questionable connotations.
In this particular context I cannot anticipate how
said "mechanistic control" is intended to be
understood, other than as a rough gesture that points
to whatever-people-mean-when-they-invoke-determinism.
This will not do if the contrast is to be clear. Also,
if the author thinks that what occurs in physical
processes at large counts as control, my opinion is
that she has no grasp on that topic.

Tracy Harms


From: "Tracy B. Harms" <>
Date: Thu Nov 3, 2005 8:50 am
Subject: Re: "The Biology of Free Will" t_b_harms

Yahoo! FareChase: Search multiple travel sites in one click.

[From Bjorn Simonsen 82005.11.03,21:50 EUST)]

Martin, you are the one who most often talk about nonlinearity in the CSG.

I studied the essay "The Biology of Free Will" to which Christian Ross/Tracy
Harms gave us a link. . There I learned that
It was geneticist/embryologist C.H. Waddington (1957) who first introduced
nonlinear dynamical ideas into developmental biology in the form of the
'epigenetic landscape' - a general metaphor for the dynamics of the
develop-mental process.
You said:
  "I think Bill says that he has tried it, or something similar, on
  occasion, and found that a small tolerance band does improve the
  model fit".
Does this statement (if it's correct) move PCT nearer System Dynamics?
(....the mathematician Peter Saunders (1992) who shows that the properties
of the epigenetic landscape are "common not just to developing organisms but
to most nonlinear dynamical systems.")

I know you are interested in System Dynamics (ECACS).


[From Bjorn Simonsen (2005.11.03.22:50 EUST)]
Mail from Tracy B. Harms received 2005.11.03,18:38 EUST)]
Tracy B. Harms sent us a link to an essay, "The Biology of the Free Will". I
have studied the essay and I will present some comments.

The first phrase I will quote is:
"From a thorough-going organicist perspective, one does not ask, "What is
life?" but, "What is it to be alive?"".

I think it bad for the organicist science that they don't rather ask "What
is life". I find it naturally to ask "What is PCT" and afterwards "What is
it to be alive?".
"The animal body does not act as a thermodynamic engine...consciousness
teaches every individual that they are, to some extent, subject to the
direction of his will...."
He talks about will as a truism. PCT explain what will is.
In the essay there is a paragraph saying:
"The organism is a free sentient being and hence able to decide its own
I can agree, but PCT tells us that once organized, our cognitive systems no
longer make decisions or choices. They operate in a fixed manner until some
failure results in further reorganization.
I don't understand the heading of a paragraph saying: "IV. The organism
frees itself from mechanistic control as an interconnected,
intercommunicating whole" when he in the end of the paragraph writes: "The
metabolic network turns out to be a "molecular democracy" of distributed
control. "
I think everybody say there is a system in the molecules that executes
mechanistic control.
I can agree with another heading saying:
"Organism and environment - a mutual partnership". It depends on what
partnership. I think as PCT tells us that the organism excites actions and
influence the environment to perceive what the organism wish to perceive.
It looks to me that the essay is more behaviorism, saying:
"In constantly responding to and transforming its environment, it partakes
in creating the possible futures of generations to come".
I think the statement:
"The coherent organism is, in the ideal, a quantum superposition of
activities - organized according to their characteristic space-times - each
itself coherent, so that it can couple coherently to the rest" is
interesting, but PCT explains this better as I said earlier: "The organism
operates in a fixed manner until some failure results in further
reorganization". When we are in the fixed manner we are in the
I say this because I am not sure if I understand those who say that "The
many worlds" are our experience and our imaginations.
At last.
The ending of the essay tells us:
" I venture to suggest, therefore, that a truly free individual is a
coherent being that lives life fully and spontaneously, without
fragmentation or hesitation, who is at peace with herself and at ease with
the universe as she participates in creating, from moment to moment, its
possible futures."

And why not agree. PCT tells us the same.