[From: Bruce Nevin (Mon 930517 08:46:23)]

(CHUCK TUCKER 930514A = Fri, 14 May 1993 16:20:18 EDT) --

As part of the model I hope that a way will be
figured out as to how persons involved in [human] interaction can
tell themselves what to perceive as part of their internal
conversation, imagination, and/or verbal statements. I use all
of these ways to give myself instructions as to what to perceive.

The question is, how are reference perceptions set? This is a much broader
question than might be inferred from phrases like "self instruction" and
"telling myself what to perceive." Most reference perceptions are non-
verbal. For example, the reference perceptions by which language itself
is constituted must, many of them, be nonverbal. Absent language, how
do you "tell yourself what to perceive"? Conversely, most verbal accounts
are "knowing about" (that is, theory) rather than "knowing [how]" (that is,
skill), and at least in my experience the two kinds of "knowing" are very
different. Know-how involves having reference perceptions and being able
to control perceptual inputs relative to them. Verbal descriptions may
lead to know-how, with practice, or they may lead only to facility in
telling stories about perceptions.

There is a humorous German story by von der Vogelweide (if I remember
rightly) that tells about a good citizen going down his front steps
to cross the street. It's a one-way street so he only looks to the
right. A car coming the wrong way hits him and kills him. He gets
up and says "This is a one-way street! That car can't have been there!"
He goes down to the corner and verifies that the one-way sign is there.
"So I can't be dead, because that car can't have been driving from that
direction." He goes down to the town hall to verify the law in the law
books. The story goes on at some length, poking fun at what my German
professor perceived as an aspect of German culture, but one that I
think we can all recognize. We might think of it as a conflict between
perceptual control and Boss Reality. I think actually it is a conflict
between our protagonist's perceptual control and the story that he tells
about his perceptions. (In the model, his control of perceptions is
necessarily "faithful" to Boss Reality, as we assume it to be, by way of
feedback through his environment)

Ed Ford (sorry, lost the reference) --

The child says what she wants is not to get in trouble and to be in class
These are surely her aims now that the Principal has showed up! However,
these aims have little or nothing to do with the conflict with the other
child, now abandoned. Memory and imagination based on prior experience
of the Principal yelling and punishing are doubtless factors in that
abandonment. Will you follow up to see whether children become more
forthright about their aims regarding one another (absent punitive
authorities), and how the Principal and teachers fare with these changes?
Clearly, it was acceptable that the child had these aims, to avoid conflict
with those in authority, and to profess as an aim what is perceived as
an aim of those in authority, namely that they be in class. Will other
extracurricular aims be less acceptable? Will the Principal and teachers
persevere in addressing the children in terms of the children's actual

[Bill Powers (930510.0830 MDT)] --

There are many sociologists
who believe that social laws are completely independent of laws
of individual behavior -- that they are superordinate to the
properties of individuals.

Many arguments on CSGnet, including some arguments with Bruce
Nevin regarding linguistics, are really about this territorial
dispute. Is there a way to study JUST social interactions, in
such a way that the properties of individuals simply don't come
into it? Well, obviously there is, but the real question is
whether this is the best way to go about it in the long run. My
own feeling is that "pure" social studies are impossible, because
they inevitably involve assumptions about human nature that are
grounded in individual characteristics.

I think that Bruce Nevin's argument is that each individual comes
into a world that is already structured socially, and that those
preexisting social conditions determine what is available for the
person to learn. This is incontrovertible. But the next step is
the one to which I object, which is to treat these social
conditions as if they were independent of the individuals in the
society; as if they were causes of behavior. There's some tricky
reasoning in here, because it's true that no individual can have
much effect on the existing social conditions (barring an unusual
access to publicity or a position of unusual power). However, the
underlying question is whether we are to treat social conditions
IN ANY WAY as having a life of their own, or (as I would prefer)
as continually being produced by the members of the society. And
I would dispute any claim that social conditions are
DETERMINISTIC with regard to any individual. I claim that the
society can present conditions and contingencies to the
individual, but can't determine or even much influence how that
individual will find ways of controlling the local environment to
that individual's satisfaction. There are simply too many degrees
of freedom in individual behavior for other people to be able to
constrain an individual to just one way of behaving.

This is the view that I have been espousing, a view for which I
have referred to the brilliant work of Edward Sapir in language,
culture and personality. For his a concise exposition of Sapir's
conception of individual participation in social patterns (by which
participation the patterns are constantly re-created and extended),
see Z. Harris, review of _Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in
Language, Culture, and Personality_, in _Language_ 27:3.288-333 (1951),
and references cited there; see particularly section 3.2 "Sapir's
`Psychology': Individual Participation in Social Patterns."

  Each person's behavior is patterned by his participation in these
  social forms ... [and] the restructuring of perception is related
  to the individual's lack of awareness of how his behavior is

  Another reason for being careful about this formulation is that it
  seems to make the individual merely a creature of the social pattern,
  someone who `actualizes' it by participating in it. Sapir himself
  was quite sensitive to this danger, and used the pattern to detect
  variation as well as conformity. "To one who is not accustomed to
  the pattern, [the individual] variations would appear so slight as
  to be all but unobserved. Yet they are of maximum importance to us
  as individuals; so much so that we are liable to forget that there
  is a general social pattern to vary from (534). Perhaps the
  relation of the individual behavior to the social pattern could be
  more generally expressed by saying that the social pattern (i.e. the
  behavior of the other individuals in society) provides experience
  and a model which is available to each individual when he acts.<fn>
  Just how he will use this available material depends on his history
  and situation: often enough he will simply imititate it, but not
  always. This formulation does not say that the individual
  participates in the social pattern (and sometimes varies from it),
  or that he feels it; it says that he uses it as available material
  when he acts.

The footnote is as follows:

  Sapir seems to say that the native `grasps' the social pattern,
  while the outside observer just sees the resultant behavior (547).
  But by observing enough of the behavior, the observer can see as
  much as the native has grasped. The native himself has grasped it
  only by observing a great deal of behavior; he is a `participant
  observer' of his own society. Hence the social patterns are not
  really `felt' by him, but observed; the observations are experiences
  upon which he can draw when he acts.

And in Harris' Section 3.3 The Relation of the Individual to the Culture:

  The crux of Sapir's happy and fruitful understanding of the relation
  between individual and culture is that it is a reactive relation.
  The culture is seen not as a matrix in which the individual is
  stamped, but in the best tradition of the Enlightenment as part of
  the environing situation (together with the physical conditions)
  within which the individual operates: "The social forces which
  thus transform the purely environmental influences may themselves
  be looked upon as environmental in character insofar as a given
  individual is placed in, and therefore reacts to, a set of social

  Sapir makes the implications explicit: "Culture is not something
  given but something to be gradually and gropingly discovered"
  (596). "[Society] is only apparently a static sum of social
  institutions; actually it is being reanimated or creatively
  reaffirmed from day to day by particular acts of a communicative
  nature which obtain among individuals participat6ing in it" (104).

Sapir's views were not and are not typical in the social sciences.
One reason, in my opinion, is that the social sciences are funded
largely as handmaidens to the administration of many for the
benefit of few. This is the fundamental reason, in my opinion,
that PCT will never be funded and institutionalized in the same
ways as the conventional behavioral and social sciences have. PCT
shows that the notion of social control is a fraud, but it is an
appealing fraud to those who hold and wish to continue holding the
purse strings and know no better (indeed, who wish earnestly for it
to be so). In its essential nature, PCT can never participate in
the standard funding fraud re prediction and control of anonymous
masses of people and still be PCT. Worse than that, PCT cannot help
but declare, again and again, without even the intention of doing so,
that the emperor has no clothes, and this is distinctly uncomfortable
to those who have found economic and social niches as imperial
haberdashers. This pattern, of which those participating in it are
mostly unaware just as surely as the Frenchman is unaware of the pattern
of sound contrasts by which English `s' and `th' are the same for him,
is the real reason, in my opinion, that PCT is not accepted by the
journals and in the institutions of learning and research. It blows
the game.

I think that Bruce Nevin's argument is that each individual comes
into a world that is already structured socially, and that those
preexisting social conditions determine what is available for the
person to learn. This is incontrovertible. But the next step is
the one to which I object, which is to treat these social
conditions as if they were independent of the individuals in the
society; as if they were causes of behavior.

I hope it is clear now that I do not claim that social patterns, norms,
or conventions are causes of behavior. Insofar as people control for
conformity to them (and they observably do), then those people's
behavior `is' their control of perceptions including their largely
unconscious perceptions of the norms. But this surely is not
controversial in this group. How do we know that two individuals
are controlling for conformity to the same norms? Their perceptions
of co-membership, repetition, etc. (as reported or as evinced through
indirect tests). But this is coherent, and may possibly be convincing,
only given a coherent account of how people arrive at their reference
perceptions. This is a fundamental question that Chuck is asking.