Interactionism

[From Wayne Hershberger 920915]
Apparently, I failed to get this on the net when I posted it
920912 so I am trying again. I appologize for being 2 or 3
threads late.

Tom Bourbon:
      I am sorry to hear your funding has been cut. What about
your contacts in France this summer? Any prospects there?

RE: INTERACTIONISM
Penni Sibun, Tom Bourbon, Martin Taylor, Avery Andrews, Rick
Marken, Bill Powers: (Please read this at least twice; it took me
so long to write.)
      I am inclined to agree with Martin Taylor that Agre's idea
of "leaning on the environment" is not necessarily inconsistent
with Bill Powers' hierarchical control model, because many of the
control loops comprising Bill's model have an environmental part.
However, this environmental part of Bill's model is a conceptual
realization expressed in a language we call physics. It is not
the environment that we experience perceptually (e.g.,
perceptually, the sun rises; conceptually, the earth rotates).
      The perceptual environment is a realization occasioned by a
perceptual process that we conceive or conceptually realize (e.g.,
Bill's model) as involving physiology and physics, but this is not
to say that the perceptual environment is the offspring of that
conceptualization--for instance, consider this nonsense: when a
conceptualization is revised (say, by Copernicus), which
conceptualization gave birth to those perceptualizations (i.e.,
sunrises) that preceded the revision, the original or the revised
version? Then, what about the perceptualizations that came later?

      We may say that a perceiver realizes a perceptual
environment, but not that s/he perceives a realized environment.
That is, s/he does not represent (re-present) to her/himself a
Real environment that has been realized a priori in the form of
Platonic ideals, or things in themselves, or even scientific
conceptualizations--and certainly not the naive conceptualizations
(i.e., perceptualizations) of naive realism where the perceived
environment is considered to be a re-presentation of itself (cf.,
Agre's "the world is its own best representation"). This means
that a perceiver can not be said to lean on a realized perceptual
environment.
      What our perceptual and conceptual realizations both seem to
lean on (albeit, like a house of cards) is the immanent order that
those constructs themselves realize or model. That is, although
our perceptual and conceptual realizations appear to be
inventions, the immanent order which they realize is not; rather,
it appears to be "given."
      Fundamentally, perception is a process involving realization
not representation. Therefore, perceptual theorists who concern
themselves with the representation of reality seem to me (and to
Agre?) to be wasting their time, because they are ignoring the
fundamental realization process and addressing the superfluous
representation process. As for Bill Powers' HCT, it seems clear
to me that the input functions in his theory comprise the core of
a perceptual-realization process, not a representational process
(e.g., Bill has observed that the sourness of lemonade is a
perceptual realization that is not to be found in the conceptual
world of physics).
      Although I sympathize fully with Agre's scoffing about the
need to re-present realizations of the world, he does not seem to
be addressing the realization process itself, and, hence, I can
understand Tom's, Rick's and Bill's reluctance to tender a blanket
endorsement of Agre's notion of "leaning on the environment."

Martin Taylor: (re: Martin Taylor 920831 1330)
      I believe that the question you are raising about whether
the controlled variable is an environmental variable or a
perception of an environmental variable is ambiguous for precisely
the same reason that Agre's "leaning on the environment" is
problematic. That is, what I said above applies here as well.
The answer to your question depends upon the realization you
are talking about. When you conceive of my driving (steering an
auto) as the control of one of your conceptual realizations (i.e.,
distinguishing between physiology and physics), then the
controlled variable is physiological rather that physical (i.e.,
it is not an environmental variable). However, since my driving
necessarily involves the control of one of my perceptual
realizations, and since that controlled variable is in the
environmental part of our common perceptual realization (I trust
that you do not percieve the car as being in my body any more than
I do) the answer to your question is: in the environment. (This
ambiguity is what accounts for "the 3 stages of Satori.") If two
individuals share a common perceptual realization of the world, it
should be possible for them to control the same environmental
thing--at least in the perceptual sense of the term. Is
that part of what you are driving at?
      Martin, could you repeat the reference to Georgopoulos?

Rick Marken:
      I think Mary Henle may have published the sort of criticism
of Behaviorism you are looking for--it would have been many years
(decades?) ago. Also, I seem to recall Skinner himself addressing
the matter and explaining his own attempts to control others by
controlling their environments; of course, he said that he finds
it reinforcing to do so. Daniel Dennett lampooned this use of the
term, reinforce, in a critique titled "Skinner Skinned," reprinted
in Dennett's book, Brainstorms?
      I second Gary Cziko's great idea that you put your computer
demos in a menu driven package.

Bill Powers: A belated happy 66th birthday (920829) to you!

Warm regards, Wayne

Wayne A. Hershberger Work: (815) 753-7097
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology Home: (815) 758-3747
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb IL 60115 Bitnet: tj0wah1@niu

[Martin Taylor 920924 19:30]
(Wayne Hershberger 920915)

Martin Taylor: (re: Martin Taylor 920831 1330)
     I believe that the question you are raising about whether
the controlled variable is an environmental variable or a
perception of an environmental variable is ambiguous for precisely
the same reason that Agre's "leaning on the environment" is
problematic. That is, what I said above applies here as well.
The answer to your question depends upon the realization you
are talking about. When you conceive of my driving (steering an
auto) as the control of one of your conceptual realizations (i.e.,
distinguishing between physiology and physics), then the
controlled variable is physiological rather that physical (i.e.,
it is not an environmental variable). However, since my driving
necessarily involves the control of one of my perceptual
realizations, and since that controlled variable is in the
environmental part of our common perceptual realization (I trust
that you do not percieve the car as being in my body any more than
I do) the answer to your question is: in the environment. (This
ambiguity is what accounts for "the 3 stages of Satori.") If two
individuals share a common perceptual realization of the world, it
should be possible for them to control the same environmental
thing--at least in the perceptual sense of the term. Is
that part of what you are driving at?

I don't think so. If I remember, the issue is that no-one can perceive or
control anything in the environment, but, given that there exists a common
(unknowable) environment, the percept I am controlling is unknowable to you.
God may know if we "share a common perceptual realization of the world" but
we can't know it.

There is no way that you can be sure, when applying the PCT Test, that you
are perceiving the same function of the environment that I am. You disturb
some environmental variable perceived by you. I do something that results
in that environmental variable returning to its undisturbed position as
perceived by you. You say I am controlling the environmental variable that
you perceive, but that may not be true at all. The environmental variable
that relates to the percept I am controlling may correlate with the one you
perceive, or may include or be included in the one you perceive. For example,
suppose you think I am controlling for the sum of A, B, and C, which are
sensory values that you, by some magic, can determine I am receiving. So you
manipulate the value of A, and find I compensate by changing B and/or C.
You do various such disturbances, and find I always compensate. But I am
controlling for 1.1A+0.9B+C, or perhaps for A+B+C+D, where D is something
you haven't perceived, and which remains stable during your tests or which
varies only slightly. You probably will never know that your percept is of
a different environmental variable than mine. For one thing, your sensory
input cannot discover exactly what mine is, so you would not know that my
A is slightly different from yours. For all that Rick keeps saying that all
PCT measurements are Ivory Soap, 99 44/100% pure, this cannot hold for percepts
of more complex environmental variables.

A completely different aspect of the question is that even within me, I can
know only my percepts. I may identify them with some CEV that I may try to
describe to you, but I cannot know that my description is accurate, even
forgetting that I cannot know whether your interpretation agrees with my
intention.

So the 3 stages of Satori don't enter into the issue. When we talk loosely,
we can talk about controlling aspects of the environment, and for the most
part we won't go too far wrong. But sometime, that loose language is
misleading, as in much of the argument about "controlling other people."
We can't and don't control other people. They are in our environment, and
we control only our perceptions of that environment. If our actions cause
our perceptions of other people to approach our references for those perceptions
then we can say (loosely) that we control the other people. But we control
only our perceptions, not the people.

This is probably no clearer than before. My mind is still a bit jet-lagged.
But I thought I would answer this before it passed too far by.

Martin