[Martin Taylor 2017.02.24.06.48]
This diverges so far from the original thread title (CSG authorship 2017) that I though a new subject line without the "was" to be appropriate.
[Chad Green (2017.23.02.1045 EST)]
On 2/9/2017 Eetu mentioned that there may be a double bind between Rick and Martin who reflect two competing schools of thought: instrumentalism and realism. If true, then I think it would be fascinating if we found someone who could serve as a mediator of sorts by leveraging both perspectives to show how they are relational (e.g., the self and environment as fundamentally bound together).
Funny. I appear to be repeating myself.
I think you are simply repeating PCT. I believe PCT is the mediator you are seeking. PCT demands that both realism and instrumentalism are correct. They are not in opposition except in their extreme, exclusive, forms where one is only correct if the other is wrong. In the light of PCT, the opposition is between their proponents, not their concepts.
Why? Assuming there is a real world and this message is not a solipsistic exercise, enough organisms of a type must survive in it long enough to propagate their genes to descendants. Looking backwards in time, our own personal ancestors have succeeded in doing so for some 3 or 4 billion years, in really existing environments that have changed greatly over that time. Anyone reading this has personally survived in the real world long enough to be able to read it, despite having been exposed many times to situations in which they might not have done (and many like them did not) if chance had gone the other way.
One of Powers's insights was the concept of "reorganization". Reorganization does two things. One is to improve control of existing perceptions so that by controlling them the intrinsic variables are kept in the organism's "survival zone". the other is the arrange so that the control of multiple perceptions minimally interfere with each other -- in other words to "orthogonalize" our controls. I concentrate here on orthogonalization.
As Powers demonstrated in his "Arm" demo in LCS III Chapter 8, reorganization can orthogonalize the output degrees of freedom for control of several indeepndent perceptions (the arm with 14 different joint motions in the Demo). To "orthogonalize" them means to make them independent in the sense that changing one does not influence the others. In the actual demo, the perceptual functions are initialized to be orthogonal; changing one joint angle does not affect perception of the others. In the real world we are not guaranteed to be so lucky. Perceptual functions have to be developed through evolution or individual reorganization to operate together in ways that do not conflict, and at the same time work with the environment in ways that keep our intrinsic variables in good condition.
Look around you. Regardless of what actually is in the real world, what do you see? I think it is not edges, corners, and patches of colout, but books, chairs, walls, and at this moment a display screen, among other things. Are they in your environment? Perhaps not, if you just observe. But PCT says you can test, by acting to control something about them. Maybe you can take a book off the shelf and put it back. A whole lot of edges and colour patches moved in your visual field while kinaesthetic and touch sensations joined them in your (probably unconscious) set of perceptions. But you perceived an object, a book, moving with very little effect on the edges and colour patches of other objects you could see.
Your perception of the book was almost orthogonal to your perception of the rest of your world. The effects of your actions on the book had very little effect on the rest of your perceptual world. Evolution and reorganization have constructed perceptual functions and output hierarchies that work on the world as though there are really lots of touchable things that move coherently without affecting other objects (unless they bang into them).
Evolution and reorganization have made it so because when it is so, your ancestors' intrinsic variables (and yours) have been kept in survivable limits while you act in and are acted on by the real environment. We may not perceive the environment as it really is, and we are subject to illusions, but if we act as though the world is the way we perceive it to be, things usually work out better than if we act as though everything is illusion, and better than they would if we separately controlled every property of every perceived object and relationship.
Whereas the perceptual field is capable of containing many independent objects and their relationships and configurations at the same time, so is fairly easily reorganized into a reasonably orthogonal system, the output system is more constrained. In order to be able to control all those perceptions without much mutual interference between the individual perceptual controls, reorganization has to find another way to orthogonalize control. In engineering practice, this is solved by controlling one thing and then another (time multiplexing). In the Powers hierarchy, evolution and reorganization have (according to Powers) created a control level called "sequence control" that performs not only the orthogonalization, but also arranges that the effects of controlling one perception and then another make the inevitable carry-over effects of the earlier beneficial to the later, rather than impeding the later one.
Seen across time, the sequential level of control has the same effect on reducing internal conflict as does the control of an object property as compared to the independent control of the same property across the different parts of the object. If one want to move a chair, it's easier to move the whole chair than it is to move each leg, the seat, and the back separately and hope that they all fit together again to make a chair in the new place. Likewise, if one wants to, say, perceive a shelter in the forest, it is easier to gather branches then arrange them as a supporting structure and then cover them with leaves than it is to put up the leaves and hope they stay up while you gather the branches. To perceive and control the sequence is a way at worst to orthogonalize (preventing you from trying to wash the bathroom floor while you are vacuuming the living room) and at best to ease the control of the parts of the sequence.
Is the perceived sequence in the environment? Its reference value is not, but I could (at this moment) argue for either answer to the question. On the one hand, the relationships among the properties of different objects that determine the mutual influences important to the sequence clearly are in the environment, while on the other one might say that what is in the environment at this instant is not extended in time, so the sequence cannot be in the environment at any instant during its execution. The same might be said of any kind of time-binding. A velocity is a measure of rate of change, and you can't have a change at a single instant. The same ambiguity arises for an event such as a car crash. The crash unfolds over time, or at least its perception does. And one perceives the crash as happening in the external environment. It has real-world consequences such as the death of an organism.
As I said, I don't have a personal answer to this one, though I lean toward an extended perception of "now" that covers at least the loop transport lag time of the perception being controlled. With that proviso, one can at any instant perceive the whole sequence, but it occurs in the real environment extended over time.
The take-away point of this message is that we cannot know to what extent our perceptions of the environment are constructed arbitrarily by our evolved and reorganized sensory and perceptual structure or are predetermined by what is really out there. Nevertheless, PCT provides an answer that both realism and constructivism (instrumentalism) are correct in part. I suppose that makes PCT a precise form of enactivism.
PS. Vyv, I'm sorry this is another essay. It's hard to balance accuracy and concision.