Gene Gendlin

[from Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific)]

Hello all,

Yesterday I happened to be introduced to the philosophical and
psychological work of E. T. Gendlin. I am rather shocked that I've not
noticed him before now. I suspect that others here are at least
somewhat familiar with his ideas. In fact, given my various absences
from this list I may have missed specific discussions of it.

An example of what I'm reading is this:

The primacy of the body, not the primacy of perception: How the body
knows the situation and philosophy
http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2162.html

One passage here that stands out in sharp contrast with PCT is what
Gendlin wrote in regard to plants:

To begin philosophy by considering perception makes it seem
that living things can contact reality only through perception.
But plants *are* in contact with reality. They are interactions,
quite without perception. Our own living bodies also are
interactions with their environments, and that is not lost just
because ours also have perception.

That noted, my overall impression is that there is a broad,
interesting compatibility between what Gendlin writes and PCT. I'd be
interested in hearing the opinions of others on this topic.

Tracy Harms

[from Bruce Nevin (2008.09.11.1501 EDT)]

The key is in his narrow definition of what constitutes a perception; or
conversely, if you like, the broad definition used in PCT, where e.g.
the concentration of nutrient in the fluid environment is a sensed input
controlled by e. coli.

Or again, does he identify a mechanism by which the body of an organism
*is* in contact with reality? If not, his words are empty; if so, then
how does he distinguish that mechanism from a sensor?

  /BN

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On Behalf Of Tracy Harms
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:16 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Gene Gendlin

[from Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific)]

Hello all,

Yesterday I happened to be introduced to the philosophical
and psychological work of E. T. Gendlin. I am rather shocked
that I've not noticed him before now. I suspect that others
here are at least somewhat familiar with his ideas. In fact,
given my various absences from this list I may have missed
specific discussions of it.

An example of what I'm reading is this:

The primacy of the body, not the primacy of perception: How
the body knows the situation and philosophy
http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2162.html

One passage here that stands out in sharp contrast with PCT
is what Gendlin wrote in regard to plants:

> To begin philosophy by considering perception makes it seem that
> living things can contact reality only through perception.
> But plants *are* in contact with reality. They are interactions,
> quite without perception. Our own living bodies also are
> interactions with their environments, and that is not lost just
> because ours also have perception.

That noted, my overall impression is that there is a broad,
interesting compatibility between what Gendlin writes and
PCT. I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of others on
this topic.

Tracy Harms

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.11.1501 MDT)]

Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific) --

Yesterday I happened to be introduced to the philosophical and
psychological work of E. T. Gendlin. I am rather shocked that I've not
noticed him before now. I suspect that others here are at least
somewhat familiar with his ideas. In fact, given my various absences
from this list I may have missed specific discussions of it.

An example of what I'm reading is this:

The primacy of the body, not the primacy of perception: How the body
knows the situation and philosophy
http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2162.html

One passage here that stands out in sharp contrast with PCT is what
Gendlin wrote in regard to plants:

To begin philosophy by considering perception makes it seem
that living things can contact reality only through perception.
But plants *are* in contact with reality. They are interactions,
quite without perception. Our own living bodies also are
interactions with their environments, and that is not lost just
because ours also have perception.

That noted, my overall impression is that there is a broad,
interesting compatibility between what Gendlin writes and PCT. I'd be
interested in hearing the opinions of others on this topic.

Oddly, I wrote to him last Spring, not about his work but to see if he had any records from the Counselling Center at the U of Chicago (Carl Rogers' outfit). Mary was an intern there and knew Gene (Eugene) Gendlin.

PCT also recognizes direct physical interactions with the environment. However, I would not agree that we (as observers) can know the environment, or Reality, by direct contact that bypasses the senses. We can know the sensed consequences of those direct interactions, but of course the idea of an "organism" in an "environment" is also a product of our brains.

Perception, as I use the term, is a form of information, not of significant energy transfer. It's as near as we can get to observing things without the observation noticeably affecting what is observed (a butterfly or a gnat would probably be unable to sense whether someone was looking at it or ten inches to the left of it). What we know consciously about reality is derived from whatever information our senses provide. I don't accept the idea that there is any other way.

I think Gendlin may have been one of the Rogerians who really thought they could feel the client's emotions, literally. But I'm not sure he was. Dick Robertson, being another student at the Center at that time, would know.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Mike Acree (2008.09.12 14:15 PDT]

Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific)--

One passage here that stands out in sharp contrast with PCT is what

Gendlin wrote in regard to plants:

To begin philosophy by considering perception makes it seem that
living things can contact reality only through perception.
But plants *are* in contact with reality. They are interactions,
quite without perception. Our own living bodies also are
interactions with their environments, and that is not lost just
because ours also have perception.

George Spencer Brown wrote in his first book, _Probability and
Scientific Inference_ (more or less; I'm quoting from memory, from
having read the book 35 years ago):

"If you take a cinematograph of a plant at, say, one frame a minute, and
show it speeded up to 30 frames per second, the plant appears to behave
like an animal. If something is placed near it, it clearly perceives it
and reacts to it; it is obviously a sentient being. Why, then, does it
not ordinarily appear conscious? The answer is, perhaps, because it
thinks too slowly. To beings who reacted 1800 times as quickly as we
react, we should no doubt appear as mere unconscious vegetables."

Mike

[From Dick Robertson,2009.09.12.1855CDT]

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.11.1501 MDT)]

Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific) –

Yesterday I happened to be introduced to the philosophical and
psychological work of E. T. Gendlin. I am rather shocked that
I’ve not noticed him before now. I suspect that others here are at least
somewhat familiar with his ideas. In fact, given my various absences
from this list I may have missed specific discussions of it.
An example of what I’m reading is this: (etc. See below)

Oddly, I wrote to him last Spring, not about his work but to see
if he had any records from the Counselling Center at the U of
Chicago (Carl Rogers’ outfit). Mary was an intern there and knew Gene
(Eugene) Gendlin.

PCT also recognizes direct physical interactions with the
environment. However, I would not agree that we (as observers)
can know the environment, or Reality, by direct contact that
bypasses the senses. We can know the sensed consequences of those direct
interactions, but of course the idea of an “organism” in an
“environment” is also a product of our brains.

Perception, as I use the term, is a form of information, not of
significant energy transfer. It’s as near as we can get to
observing things without the observation noticeably affecting what is
observed (a butterfly or a gnat would probably be unable to sense whether
someone was looking at it or ten inches to the left of it). What
we know consciously about reality is derived from whatever
information our senses provide. I don’t accept the idea that there is any
other way.

I think Gendlin may have been one of the Rogerians who really
thought they could feel the client’s emotions, literally. But I’m not
sure he was. Dick Robertson, being another student at the Center at that
time, would know. (Bill)

(RR now)Some Rogerians and a lot of psychoanalytically trained people I know place a lot of emphasis on the idea that empathy really consists of feeling what the other is feeling and that it involves kind of a global sensing. I think I sort of agree, but can clarify further with the comments I paste below.

[Tracy B. Harms (2008-09-11 11:07 Pacific) –

(RR repeating a bit, )

Yesterday I happened to be introduced to the philosophical and
psychological work of E. T. Gendlin. I am rather shocked that I’ve not
noticed him before now. I suspect that others here are at least
somewhat familiar with his ideas. In fact, given my various absences
from this list I may have missed specific discussions of it.

An example of what I’m reading is this: The primacy of the body, not the primacy of perception: How the body knows the situation and philosophy
http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2162.html

Our own living bodies also are interactions with their environments, and >that is not lost just because ours also have perception.
That noted, my overall impression is that there is a broad,
interesting compatibility between what Gendlin writes and PCT. I’d be
interested in hearing the opinions of others on this topic.

(WTP)PCT also recognizes direct physical interactions with the
environment. However, I would not agree that we (as observers) can
know the environment, or Reality, by direct contact that bypasses the
senses. We can know the sensed consequences of those direct
interactions, but of course the idea of an “organism” in an
“environment” is also a product of our brains.

Perception, as I use the term, is a form of information, not of
significant energy transfer. It’s as near as we can get to observing
things without the observation noticeably affecting what is observed
(a butterfly or a gnat would probably be unable to sense whether
someone was looking at it or ten inches to the left of it). What we
know consciously about reality is derived from whatever information
our senses provide. I don’t accept the idea that there is any other way.

I think Gendlin may have been one of the Rogerians who really thought
they could feel the client’s emotions, literally. But I’m not sure he
was. Dick Robertson, being another student at the Center at that
time, would know.

Best, Bill P.

Here’s what I know (RR speaking)

Gene was the major one of the five therapists I’ve had in my life. Later, after I returned to the Center for my internship Gene was the most important one to support my bid for second-year internship. (Successful BTW). So we did eventually have both that formal relationship and subsequent informal ones.

I have seen him over the years at various conferences, and on one occasion when I told him I was training in bioenergetic therapy I believe he said that its emphasis on the body was consistent with his own view about it—or something to that effect.

During those years I also worked for Gene as a research assistant on analyzing some of the data which I believe helped his thinking for his book, Focusing. I have a vague recollection that either the findings on this phase of his research were equivocal, or that he was disappointed in how I had handled it, although I believed it conformed to what he thought he had found. But he did a lot of other research, such as listening to hundreds of hours of recorded sessions—that he mentions in the beginning of his book.

Getting back to my own therapy, I believe I know what he talks about as a “felt sense” that occurs from time to time in therapy. I don’t know if I ever immediately felt the internal shifting he describes in the book, but I clearly remember feelings of “Gee, I feel happy, I wonder what happened. Oh, wait a minute. Something’s different, something’s different in me.”

BTW Does that sound familiar to any PCTer?

(Tracy now)

One passage here that stands out in sharp contrast with PCT is what
Gendlin wrote in regard to plants:

To begin philosophy by considering perception makes it seem
that living things can contact reality only through perception.
But plants are in contact with reality. They are interactions,
quite without perception.

(RR) See, I either don’t agree with this, or I give Gene’s words a different slant than people ordinarily might. Take his own words (From Focusing Ch. 3:

“First…there is a kind of bodily awareness that profoundly influences our lives and that can be used as a tool to help us reach personal goals…there are no ready-made words to describe it…[so I have called it] felt sense…when your felt sense of a situation changes, you change.”

(RR talking) Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Gene continues. “A felt sense is not a mental experience but a physical one.”

(RR again) Where does it come from ? I think Gene answered it as follows:

“Think of two people who play a major role in your life…the inner aura as you think of each person isn’t made up of discrete bits of data that you consciously add together in your mind…There are undoubtedly millions of such bits of data that describe Helen as you know her, but these millions of bits aren’t delivered to you one by one, thoughts, Instead they are given to you as felt….

This sounds like a no-brainer for a PCT-er. Gene hasn’t said here (he might have elsewhere I haven’t reviewed his whole book now), but it seems obvious that those “bits of data,” we would call perceptions—sights, sounds, smells assemblies of around six orders of data as processed by several higher orders. That they are felt bodily I can gronk that. Those tons of separate perceptions get mixed with my own reactive sensations and stored, I presume, in memory in ninth and tenth order systems from where I would respond totally, if my Self system ordered some action with that library of data. (I’m not trying to be technically precise here. I think you can get what I mean.) And yes, the stronger the response, the more more strongly I think I would be feeling.

He was interested in facilitating what he had found that characterized the difference between people who got better in working with him, and those who did not seem to. He wasn’t digging into how all behavior works, and didn’t think in terms of hierarchical structure of behavior. But I for one think that there is definitely a “felt sense” when reorganization is going on, or at least as one reflects back on what has just happened.

Best,

Dick R

.

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.13.MDT)]

Dick Robertson,2009.09.12.1855 CDT –

Getting back to my own therapy,
I believe I know what he talks about as a �felt sense� that occurs from
time to time in therapy. I don�t know if I ever immediately felt
the internal shifting he describes in the book, but I clearly remember
feelings of �Gee, I feel happy, I wonder what happened. Oh, wait a
minute. Something�s different, something�s different in
me.�

The assumption I make is pretty simple:
If you experience it, it’s a perception; if it’s a perception, it’s a
neural signal in your brain.
This means you are not aware of your body or the world outside it,
but only of neural signals that represent variables in those places. Even
the idea of a neural signal or a “place” is a neural signal in
your brain. This sentence is made of neural signals and exists in your
brain. “In me” is a neural signal in your brain.

That doesn’t change what Gendlin considers to be key types of
experiences, even the experience called empathy. It just say that these
experiences, like all others, are neural signals in the brain of the
experiencer.

One useful thing this assumption does is to caution us that when we think
we are feeling what someone else is feeling, we could be mistaken. We
feel our own feelings.

Best,

Bill P.

[Martin Taylor 2008.09.13.10.18]

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.13.MDT)]

The assumption I make is pretty simple:

/If you experience it, it's a perception; if it's a perception, it's a neural signal in your brain.

/

Isn't the second half of that exactly what you say: an assumption? If it were true, how then would perception and perceptual control work in e-coli or a tree? Of course, if you restrict "Perceptual Control Theory" to apply only to humans, your assumption might possibly be plausible, but even then, I don't think it's at all necessary for the full development of PCT theory or practice. What about, for example, hormonal broadcast signals?

What seems incontrovertible is "If you experience it, it's a perception". But there are lots of signals in the body that qualify for the label "perception" within the framework of PCT. Most of those don't result in an experience, at least not one of which the person is aware, which seems to be part of the meaning of "experience".

Martin

From Bill Powers (2009.09.13.0859 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2008.09.13.10.18 --

/If you experience it, it's a perception; if it's a perception, it's a neural signal in your brain.

/

Isn't the second half of that exactly what you say: an assumption? If it were true, how then would perception and perceptual control work in e-coli or a tree?

The context was the experiences in therapy that Dick Robertson reported, in relation to Gene Gendlin's proposals. I didn't say "If it's a perception, you experience it." That's certainly not true, even in human beings. But if a human being experiences anything, I assume that it's a perception -- a representation of something, not the thing itself. And in a human being, I assume that experienced perceptions are in the form of neural signals, located inside the brain, not outside it, and not directly connected to any objective variable.

The term perception can be generalized to include all forms of representation, in which something inside the system varies as a function of variables outside the system. In living systems the primary non-neural representations are chemical -- so-called "signaling molecules", some of which covary (in their concentration) with activity in molecular receptors in cell walls and other places. I have no problem with saying that bacteria like e. coli "perceive" time rates of change of chemical concentrations outside them. The quotes around perceive caution that this is functionally similar to human perception except, perhaps, for the factor of consciousness of perceiving. I don't know whether bacteria and plants are conscious. I wouldn't be offended if they were.

Best,

Bill P.

[Bruce Nevin 2008.09.13.10.18]

There are two wings of this assumption that are not entirely explicit.

The first, Martin and Bill have ably delineated. "Perception" is not
limited to neural signals in the brain.

The second is packed into the word "representation" in Bill's
explication of that assumption in the sentence immediately following it:

Bill Powers (2008.09.13.MDT) --

This means you are not aware of your body or the world outside it,
but only of neural [or other] signals that represent variables in
those places.

All we can be aware of, and all that we can control (whether aware or
not) is these representations of reality. To be aware requires first
that we construct perceptual representations. We can be aware of these
representations, or not. Our only assurance that they correspond to
reality is our success in controlling them. We know about things in the
environment around us by controlling perceptions of them using means
that extend beyond the body into the environment.

Yes, yes, yes, by using what we perceive as means that we perceive as
extending beyond what we perceive as the body into what we perceive as
the environment. There is no proof. But as we know science proves
nothing, proof is only possible for mathematics and for logic. Ability
to control is the only guarantor of the veridicality of perception.

In science such things as consistency, completeness, and elegance are
among the controlled perceptions; I have no doubt they figure in our
construction of the everyday perceptual universe as well. In everyday
life we make arrangements that protect us from unexpected disturbances
to control; I have no doubt that such arrangments help scientists remain
comfortable in their preferred theories as well.

So yes, in general, successful control of a perception is all that can
assure us that the perception is a representation of some aspects of
reality. With the caveat that in imagination mode successful control is
no test of the veridicality of perceptions. Imagined control is possible
within the shelter of arrangments that protect those perceptions from
disturbance. It says nothing until put to the test by controlling
"outside your comfort zone" as the expression goes.

  /BN

[Martin Taylor 2008.09.13.11.44]

From Bill Powers (2009.09.13.0859 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2008.09.13.10.18 --

/If you experience it, it's a perception; if it's a perception, it's a neural signal in your brain.

/

Isn't the second half of that exactly what you say: an assumption? If it were true, how then would perception and perceptual control work in e-coli or a tree?

The context was the experiences in therapy that Dick Robertson reported, in relation to Gene Gendlin's proposals. I didn't say "If it's a perception, you experience it." That's certainly not true, even in human beings. But if a human being experiences anything, I assume that it's a perception -- a representation of something, not the thing itself. And in a human being, I assume that experienced perceptions are in the form of neural signals, located inside the brain, not outside it, and not directly connected to any objective variable.

The term perception can be generalized to include all forms of representation, in which something inside the system varies as a function of variables outside the system. In living systems the primary non-neural representations are chemical -- so-called "signaling molecules", some of which covary (in their concentration) with activity in molecular receptors in cell walls and other places. I have no problem with saying that bacteria like e. coli "perceive" time rates of change of chemical concentrations outside them. The quotes around perceive caution that this is functionally similar to human perception except, perhaps, for the factor of consciousness of perceiving. I don't know whether bacteria and plants are conscious. I wouldn't be offended if they were.

I thought that was your understanding. I wanted both to be sure, and to try to avoid the possibility that newbies to PCT would cite "If it's a perception, it's a neural signal in the brain" as a basic construct of PCT.

Thanks for the clarification.

Martin

[From Fred Nickols (2008.09.13.1113)]

Hmm. Don't mean to butt in here but I have a question regarding your response to Martin below...

I can "feel" or "sense" or "perceive" my fingertips on the keyboard as I write this and the raised ridges on the front of the F and J keys. I can feel my butt on the chair, my toes on the floor, and my wrists resting on the laptop. I can feel the ballcap on my head and my legs against the legs of the chair. These "sensations" all have physical locales; I can place them. Are those all neural signals in my brain? I assume my nerve endings in those physical locates play some role. Do the nerve endings play no role except to communicate to the brain? If they do communicate, is it fair to say that the perception they communicate is only in the brain?

Just trying to "get it"...

···

--
Regards,

Fred Nickols
Managing Partner
Distance Consulting, LLC
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

"Assistance at A Distance"
      
-------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Bill Powers <powers_w@FRONTIER.NET>

The context was the experiences in therapy that Dick Robertson
reported, in relation to Gene Gendlin's proposals. I didn't say "If
it's a perception, you experience it." That's certainly not true,
even in human beings. But if a human being experiences anything, I
assume that it's a perception -- a representation of something, not
the thing itself. And in a human being, I assume that experienced
perceptions are in the form of neural signals, located inside the
brain, not outside it, and not directly connected to any objective variable.

--
Regards,

Fred Nickols
Managing Partner
Distance Consulting, LLC
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

"Assistance at A Distance"

[From Dick Roblertson, 2008.09.13.1410CDT]

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.13.MDT)]

The assumption I make is pretty simple:
*> If you experience it, it’s a perception; if it’s a perception, it’s a neural signal in your brain.

  • This means you are not aware of your body or the world outside it, but only of neural signals that represent variables in those places. Even the idea of a neural signal or a “place” is a neural signal in your brain. This sentence is made of neural signals and exists in your brain. “In me” is a neural signal in your brain.

Isn’t that what I was saying, in different words, when I said,

This sounds like a no-brainer for a PCT-er. Gene hasn’t said here (he might have elsewhere I haven’t reviewed his whole book now), but it seems obvious that those “bits of data,” we would call perceptions—sights, sounds, smells assemblies of around six orders of data as processed by several higher orders. That they are felt bodily I can gronk that. Those tons of separate perceptions get mixed with my own reactive sensations and stored, I presume, in memory in ninth and tenth order systems from where I would respond totally, if my Self system ordered some action with that library of data. (I’m not trying to be technically precise here. I think you can get what I mean.) And yes, the stronger the response, the more more strongly I think I would be feeling.nces, like all others, are neural signals in the brain of the experiencer.

Best,

Dick R

[From "bill Powers (2008.09.14.0417 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2008.09.13.11.44 --

I thought that was your understanding. I wanted both to be sure, and to try to avoid the possibility that newbies to PCT would cite "If it's a perception, it's a neural signal in the brain" as a basic construct of PCT.

Good. If I think E. coli controls perceptual signals (I do), I couldn't mean that.

There always seems to be more agreement between us than is evident in our writings.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (2008.09.14.0424 <DT)]

Bruce Nevin 2008.09.13.10.18 –

All we can be aware of, and all
that we can control (whether aware or

not) is these representations of reality. To be aware requires first

that we construct perceptual representations. We can be aware of
these

representations, or not. Our only assurance that they correspond to

reality is our success in controlling them. We know about things in
the

environment around us by controlling perceptions of them using means

that extend beyond the body into the environment.

Well said, from my point of view. I’d change the last sentence a little,
since the environment is also a perceptual construct: I’d say “using
means that extend beyond the body into we know not what.”

Yes, yes, yes, by using what we
perceive as means that we perceive as

extending beyond what we perceive as the body into what we perceive
as

the environment. There is no proof. But as we know science proves

nothing, proof is only possible for mathematics and for logic.
Ability

to control is the only guarantor of the veridicality of perception.

That’s not quite the attitude I’m looking to adopt. I think we just have
to do without the notion of “veridicality of perception.” I
think the only absolutely true statement we can make is, “I am
having a perception that I call X.” It is the world of perception
that is the Reality we know. Everything else we say and think is simply
an attempt to make sense of that world. It’s easy, of course, to fall
into the habit of thinking that the explanation is more real than that
which we are trying to explain, but once we get that sorted out it’s
clear that perception is the only aspect of experience that isn’t
a guess. Descart went on too long: he should have stopped at “I
think.” That is a fact. “Therefore I am” is a deduction,
and could be wrong.

In science such things as
consistency, completeness, and elegance are

among the controlled perceptions; I have no doubt they figure in our

construction of the everyday perceptual universe as well. In
everyday

life we make arrangements that protect us from unexpected
disturbances

to control; I have no doubt that such arrangments help scientists
remain

comfortable in their preferred theories as well.

So yes, in general, successful control of a perception is all that
can

assure us that the perception is a representation of some aspects of

reality. With the caveat that in imagination mode successful control
is

no test of the veridicality of perceptions. Imagined control is
possible

within the shelter of arrangments that protect those perceptions
from

disturbance. It says nothing until put to the test by controlling

“outside your comfort zone” as the expression goes.

I have a strong hunch that there is a real reality out there, but I can’t
prove it. D.T. Campbell spoke of “triangulation” –
cross-checking from different points of view – but that only helps us
put constraints on models.

I don’t actually know what to do about this “reality” business.
I think the term points to an unattainable wish. If we just accept
experience as the world we can know, it quickly becomes obvious that many
things happen for which we have no good explanation. I don’t take that as
opening the door to any random proposal that comes to mind, like
supernatural beings, but it does tell us that we aren’t able to see
everything that is. If we can keep our speculations separated from what
we know beyond doubt, the picture may start to get a little
clearer.

Best,

Bill P.

···
    /BN

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Checked by AVG -
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9/13/2008 12:50 PM

[From Rick Marken (2008.09.14.0850)]

Bill Powers (2008.09.14.0424 <DT) --

That's not quite the attitude I'm looking to adopt. I think we just have to
do without the notion of "veridicality of perception."

I think that's a really important point. The idea of "veridicality" is
not only the basis of lay understanding of perception, it is also the
basis of much (if not all) of the scientific study of perception in
psychology. Perception is typically studied in terms of how well it
represents or communicates information about some real (or objective)
characteristic of the outside world. This understanding of perception
is subtly but importantly different than that which comes from PCT.

In PCT, the perception is the reality and reality is a hypothesis. We
understand that when we talk about a perception being a function of
environmental variables, as in p = f(e), we are talking about two
models; the physics model, which says that e is an environmental
variable, and the perceptual model of PCT which say that p is some
function.f(), of e. Putting those two models together can produce
extremely accurate prediction, giving us some confidence that the
physics and PCT models are pretty good.

But I think the PCT model itself shows that the idea of veridicality
of perception make no sense. Specifically, it makes no sense to say
that some perceptions are better representations of reality than
others because reality itself is only a hypothesis; we will never know
what "ground truth" reality actually is. We just have to live with the
fact that perceptions (as far as we call tell) can be modeled as
representations of an external reality that is captured pretty darn
well by the physics model.

It's possible to look at veridicality in terms of how well perceptual
variables map to variables in the physics model -- this is basically
how perception is studied in psychology. But this approach to studying
perception seems somewhat irrelevant to what we want to know in PCT,
which is mainly "how do you characterize the perceptual variable(s)
being controlled when we see people carrying out various behaviors".
This characterization is typically done in terms of functions of
physical variables (the physics model), as in my "catching" model
where controlled variables are represented as functions of optical
trajectory (physics model). But it can also be done by just trying to
verbally describe the perception itself, as in literature and MOL.

The bottom line is that PCT, I believe, would say that it makes no
sense to say that my perceptions are a better (or worse)
representation of reality than those of anyone else. But I do think
that PCT supports the idea that my model of reality can be shown to be
better than another model of reality. It is done using the scientific
method: modeling tested by appropriate observation.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008/09.14.1010 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.09.14.0850) --

The bottom line is that PCT, I believe, would say that it makes no
sense to say that my perceptions are a better (or worse)
representation of reality than those of anyone else. But I do think
that PCT supports the idea that my model of reality can be shown to be
better than another model of reality. It is done using the scientific
method: modeling tested by appropriate observation.

One more little bit: how would we test the veridicality of the physics model -- by checking it against perception? In fact, that's what a physicist does when he makes a prediction: the theory says such-and-such meter readings will be observed if you perform experiment X. So the physicist looks at the perceptions he called meter readings, and if they are not what that part of the physics-model says they should be, the physics-model has to be revised until it predicts the correct perceptions. What it comes down to, I think, is that the highest ambition we can have is to make all our models consistent with each other. What that means outside the range of perceptions and models is pretty unimaginable.

Best,

Bill P.

(Gavin Ritz 2008.09.15.8.22NZT)
[From Bill Powers (2008/09.14.1010 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.09.14.0850) –

The bottom line is that PCT, I believe, would say that it makes no
sense to say that my perceptions are a better (or worse)
representation of reality than those of anyone else. But I do think
that PCT supports the idea that my model of reality can be shown to be
better than another model of reality. It is done using the scientific
method: modeling tested by appropriate observation.

One more little bit: how would we test the veridicality of the
physics model – by checking it against perception? In fact, that’s
what a physicist does when he makes a prediction: the theory says

such-and-such meter readings will be observed if you perform
experiment X. So the physicist looks at the perceptions he called
meter readings, and if they are not what that part of the
physics-model says they should be, the physics-model has to be
revised until it predicts the correct perceptions. What it comes down
to, I think, is that the highest ambition we can have is to make all
our models consistent with each other. What that means outside the
range of perceptions and models is pretty unimaginable.

veridicality: The correct perception of an object, that is, in agreement with the object’s real properties.

It can be argued that all of physics is a mental construction (perception in your terms). Albeit a very clever one. Does an object then have real properties?, probably not, just the one we choose to give it that works within our agreed mental representation. This is of course not saying that objects do not exist. Although I do believe quite consistent with your PCT model.

Regards

Gavin