Level Twelve

[From Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31)]

I can hardly believe the perception of my eyes! Bill Powers writes, “we’re all trying to understand how the human system is organized, and we’re all, perhaps, trying to take the first steps toward building Level Twelve.”

The Twelfth Level of Human Perception! Possibly? Honestly? How many years have I been proclaiming one? All this time (at least since the CSG Conference in Boston in 2000 when I made a presentation titled “Who Am I?”) I have speculated about Level 12, a level that specifies what you label “System” reference perceptions for yourself such as Republican, Democrat, Independent or Apolitical.

Obviously, each of those Level 11 System References specifies a different set of Level 10 Principles and on down the hierarchy to observable actions. But, the $64,000 question has always been, what sets the System 11 References. It could be a new, emerging Level 12 in human beings. But, I have speculated that it is a different type of organization in the very nature of humans that does not function like the control loops which act on the environment but act only on the internal human hierarchy. Some would conceive it as the mysterious human conscience whereas I conceive it as the unique spirit of humans.

I totally reject the characteristic of human categories. I don’t understand how anyone who accepts PCT and its purposeful behavior idea would try to classify people. As stated in Boston, it is easy to observe that every human body is unique (like snowflakes or clouds). It seems even easier to acknowledge that every human mind is different even in so-called identical twins. Well, if that makes sense, why wouldn’t it make more sense that while every human has a human spirit (different than the spirit in a wild animal or a domesticated dog), that each human’s conscience, of what is a right or wrong system reference (their perception of what is ethical), is unique to them?

I express discomfort with your idea that a conservative may have fixed references for what you term morality. For example, you state, “Perhaps even conservatives are torn, sometimes, between conflicting principles, those dictated by their understanding of the marketplace, and those they devoutly accept while in church.”

Being involved for most of my adult life in the “marketplace” and for two decades in the church of Christ, I can assure you that not only does every conservative have unique principles, every human has unique system references. And, within themselves they have competing and conflicting principle and system reference perceptions subject to the conscience system or what you might prefer to call the “reorganization” system.

I meet weekly with disciples of Christ, and despite having the same “word of God book,” we have reached different conclusions of what its words mean in our own conscience of perception in our life. It is frustrating but also invigorating. We were discussing the return of Christ this sabbath and no one agreed with my understanding of God’s plan or will. Us darn control systems experience error within the same church assembly that makes you want to scream. It reminds me of politics.

I truly enjoyed your attempt to understand conservatives. If you get past that, perhaps you can tackle believers and their Level Twelve. :sunglasses:

Best wishes,

Kenny

In a message dated 1/31/2010 12:36:14 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, powers_w@FRONTIER.NET writes:

···
[Martin Lewitt 2009.01.31.0357 Mountain]
  [Martin Taylor 2009.01.29.10.54]

  [Martin Taylor] PS. Without much supporting evidence, I would like to believe most of them ("the Republicans" and "the Democrats") have similar controlled perceptions along the lines of wanting a prosperous country in which most people could become happy if they worked at it appropriately.
ML: I don't think it is different views about how the environment works, but rather, even if it is agreed what "works", which way of working is moral or to be preferred.  Some forms of social organization may be preferred even if they don't work as well.  Human nature appears very susceptible to control by terror, and terror governments have worked well by several measures, including low crime rates, personal security, equality of wealth distribution and stability over long periods of time.  Ethnic hostilities were well controlled under Tito in Yugoslavia, Saddam in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and British colonial rule in India.

At 04:54 AM 1/31/2010 -0700, you wrote:
Excellent points, and your exposition finally helped me understand something. The American conservative view, it seems to me, puts a lot more emphasis on the moral interpretation of behavior that does the liberal: on principles in general. That’s why conservatives were so outraged by bleeding hearts who extended understanding to transgressors and tried to help them recover from whatever bad things had supposedly happened to them. Conservatives believe that to forgive transgressions simply sets a bad example for others; people ought to realize that actions have consequences, and it is not in society’s interest to rescue them from those consequences. The suffering people have brought on themselves is outweighed by the good it does others to see that suffering, because that example will prevent many more people from making the same mistake. If people do not experience bad consequences (for others or themselves) from doing things that are bad, then we must create those bad consequences for them: they must be caught and punished. And others must see that punishment, and witness the pain and humiliation; otherwise the lesson will be lost.
This idea of using suffering to send messages extends even to the innocent. It is wrong to end human life before birth, so a 13-year-old girl and her partner who indulge in sexual pleasures, without considering the risk of pregancy, or even with it, should be made to suffer the consequences of bearing and raising an unwanted child, and also the child must suffer, to punish the mother and father if they love it. See what misery is caused by teen-age sex? Be warned, all you other 13-year-olds. You have to learn to defer short-term pleasure to obtain a greater, later good. Abortion simply encourages more teen-aged sex by removing the consequences. A teen-age girl who defies morality by having sex should get pregnant and give birth and suffer all that follows, and for that reason contraceptives should not be freely available. If she and her partner can have sex without all those bad consequences, how will teenagers ever learn? Let the suffering ones be an example to all the rest.

Economic theory, too, shows this conservative attitude. “Market forces” should be allowed to work, which means that if a company mismanages itself or fails to be competitive enough, it should simply be allowed to fail and be replaced by a more effective company. It’s too bad that the employees of the failed company lose their jobs, but if they’re simply supported in comfort by welfare they will not try to find other jobs or improve themselves by education or training. They must be allowed to suffer also as an example to welfare queens and all those others who would abuse the system if given the chance, and to show the managers of the company what they have done by their mismanagement. If some people competing for a commodity like food do not earn enough money to buy enough food for their family, they should get a better job or work harder, and if they don’t, they should be given only the barest minimum of aid to help them survive in squalid circumstances. Letting them live in what would, in a third-world country, be considered luxury, would remove the incentive to find other employment at whatever wage the employer decides to offer.

What we see here is a set of practical, business-like principles which use a clear logic to organize rules and procedures that support and obey the principles in a consistent, even-handed way: the rule of law under suitable principles of morality and legality. To carry out these principles one must be consistent, not change with every passing whim, even if the immediate results may seem cruel (though there is a certain grim pleasure to be obtained by seeing the evil suffer the consequences of their behavior). One must tolerate present unpleasantness to achieve a greater good in the future. Logically, it follows that we must discourage any attempt to interfere with the natural consequences of behavior even when we see a way to do it. Behavior, as one famous psychologist put it, is controlled by perception of its consequences.

I think that this picture explains a great deal about conservatism. I’ve heard all these principles explained by conservatives, as well as the way they’re used to justify what seem like inequities or unnecessary hardships created as a result of adhering to them. Within the scope of the subjects discussed, it is a logical and self-consistent organization of perception and control. To understand how people could support this way of thinking and acting, we must understand how self-contained and internally consistent it is, how inevitable its logic seems.

And we must see how clear the roles of the people in it are. Teenagers, adults, leaders, followers, employees, workers, good people, bad people, self-indulgent people, prudent people, irrational people, rational people. Human beings and other organized entities appear in this system of thought only as categories, not as unique individuals.

The principles in this system are absolute. The idea of “moral relativism” is abhorrent; a principle that can be changed freely to fit the circumstances is no principle at all, no morality at all. Morals are given by God; all people of faith know right from wrong; indeed “The traditional test of insanity in criminal cases is whether the accused knew ‘the difference between right and wrong,’ following the ‘M’Naughten Rule’ from 19th Century England.”

[http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/insanity

](http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/insanity) There, I think, we have a clue as to what is going on here. In HPCT, reference conditions are set by higher-order systems, or at the top level, by reorganization or heredity. We can easily see that a reference signal that specifies going shopping for groceries has to be turned on and off by higher systems – otherwise we would never go shopping or would be unable to stop going shopping and would never be able to do anything else. A fixed reference level implies that there is no higher-level control system. “Shopping relativism” implies that the reference signal for going shopping is not a constant, is not set once and for all, but is adjusted to fit in with higher-level considerations.

Moral relativism implies that there is a higher system that adjusts the reference signals at the principle level according to circumstances under control, and of course perceived, by the higher level. In a family, for example, we do not always tell the truth, even though in most circumstances we like to maintain this moral reference-principle. We do not tell a child showing us a crayon drawing “I don’t know what that scribble is supposed to be – it’s just a mess.” So morals are, under suitable circumstances, adustable. We are not always, rigidly, honest. We do not always, rigidly, obey the ten commandments, like the one that says thou shalt not kill, or covet.

People who think of morality or other principles as fixed and immutable, or as given by God and therefore not to be changed, might not have developed a system concept level at all. Or it’s possible that while they do have a system concept level, they are unaware of it and so it reorganizes only slowly if at all (under the MOL principle that reorganization follows awareness). I say those things hesitantly not only because of the obvious riskiness as an opinion to make public, but because it seems unlikely to me that anyone utterly lacks that level or is never aware from that position. But there is something different in the conservative system concept in comparison with mine, and the liberal concept in general, and I think we need to understand just what that difference is.

It’s also possible that the system concept level is a relative latecomer in the human organization. It may not be in very good shape yet; it may still be engaged in resolving conflicts at the principle level, or even within itself. Perhaps even conservatives are torn, sometimes, between conflicting principles, those dictated by their understanding of the marketplace, and those they devoutly accept while in church.

And it’s also possible that a conservative PCTer, looking at liberals from the outside as I look at conservatives, might come to similar conclusions about liberals. That, too, would be useful, because we’re all trying to understand how the human system is organized, and we’re all, perhaps, trying to take the first steps toward building Level Twelve.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2010.01.31.1230)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31)

I express discomfort with�your idea that a conservative may have
fixed�references for what you term morality.

I don't believe Bill said that conservatives have fixed references for
morality; according to PCT _no one_ has fixed references for morals
(whether these be rules, like "Thou shalt not steal" or principles,
like "Do unto others"). What I think Bill said is that conservatives
_believe_ in absolute morality; which, in PCT terms, would mean that
they believe that references for certain rules and principles should
be fixed. Wouldn't you agree that this is true of you? Or do you think
that it's sometimes OK to change a reference, such as the one for the
rule about stealing, to a different level (like to "Thou shalt
steal"), depending on the situation?

Best

Rick

···

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

[From Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31.20,00EST)]

Its possible that I misrepresented what Bill said, and more likely what he meant. It was somewhat of a afterthought and I worked from my recollected impression. I see a difference in what you pointed out.

Rick, what I believe is not the same as other conservatives or Christians or anyone for that matter believe. Your pigeon holing Republicans is sheer nonsense to me and contrary to HPCT in my opinion.

As far as your question, I believe the 10 Commandments have many gray areas. But, I don’t know if that is because God permits that or I just don’t understand what He allows exactly. In Israel, the elevators operate on automatic because the rabbis teach that pressing the button for floor 4 is prohibited work on the sabbath. That is how they interpret the Fourth Commandment. I interpret it differently. Who is right, them or me? Who knows? But if I believed it was wrong before God to push the button, I would not do it. I also count on God’s mercy in Christ for those who know not what they do, like those who called for Christ to be crucified.

Since one of your heroes is not sure what is is in every case, I think it ought to be OK if I am not sure what steal means in every case. Do you have any absolutes besides Republicans are all idiots? :sunglasses:

In a message dated 1/31/2010 3:29:31 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rsmarken@GMAIL.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2010.01.31.1230)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31)

I express discomfort with your idea that a conservative may have
fixed references for what you term morality.

I don’t believe Bill said that conservatives have fixed references for
morality; according to PCT no one has fixed references for morals
(whether these be rules, like “Thou shalt not steal” or principles,
like “Do unto others”). What I think Bill said is that conservatives
believe in absolute morality; which, in PCT terms, would mean that
they believe that references for certain rules and principles should
be fixed. Wouldn’t you agree that this is true of you? Or do you think
that it’s sometimes OK to change a reference, such as the one for the
rule about stealing, to a different level (like to “Thou shalt
steal”), depending on the situation?

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2010.01.31.0900)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31.20,00EST)--

Rick, what I believe is not the same as other conservatives or Christians or
anyone for that matter believe.� Your pigeon holing Republicans is sheer
nonsense to me and contrary to HPCT in my opinion.

Calm down Kenny. It was Bill who wrote the treatise on conservatives,
"pigeon holing" them as believing it is important to maintain absolute
moral values (fixed references for moral rules and principles). You
saw this as Bill saying that conservatives have fixed references for
morality. I simply pointed out that Bill was actually just saying that
this is what conservatives believe, not what they are. In fact, PCT
says that no one, conservatives, liberals or whatever, can have fixed
references for morality (rules and principles) inasmuch as the
references for moral perceptions must be varied as necessary in order
to control for higher level perceptions, like system concepts. This
had nothing to do with you; it was about understanding the
conservative point of view on human nature.

Do you have any absolutes besides Republicans are all idiots? :sunglasses:

That is a fixed (absolute) perception, not a reference. And it's fixed
simply because every person who self-identifies as a Republican these
days turns out to be pretty much the same as every other. There are
certainly Republicans that I have admired greatly but these are all
from the past. Lincoln, of course. But also TR, Eisenhower and Nelson
Rockefeller. These were very good men. Republicans of that sort are
now non-existent, as far as I can tell.

Best

Rick

···

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

I can hardly believe the
perception of my eyes! Bill Powers writes, “we’re all trying
to understand how the human system is organized, and we’re all, perhaps,
trying to take the first steps toward building Level Twelve.”

The Twelfth Level of Human Perception! Possibly?
Honestly? How many years have I been proclaiming one? All
this time (at least since the CSG Conference in Boston in 2000 when I
made a presentation titled “Who Am I?”) I have speculated about
Level 12, a level that specifies what you label “System”
reference perceptions for yourself such as Republican, Democrat,
Independent or Apolitical.
[From Bill Powers (2010.01.31.1445 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31) –

Those are perceptions at the 11th level, system concepts. Higher levels
send reference signals to lower levels, but they don’t know their
meanings in lower-level terms. Each level perceives only what its own
input functions are capable of recognizing.

I’ve agree with you many times that there may be a 12th level, but while
I seem able to occupy it in order to know that a system concept level 11
exists, that’s about all I know, and it’s not about the 12th level. I’m
just deducing that since I seem to perceive something I call a system
concept, and know that is happening, I must be observing from a higher
level. I don’t have any idea what that next level might be.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)]

[From Bill Powers (2010.01.31.1445 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31) –

I can hardly believe the
perception of my eyes! Bill Powers writes, “we’re all trying
to understand how the human system is organized, and we’re all, perhaps,
trying to take the first steps toward building Level Twelve.”

The Twelfth Level of Human Perception! Possibly?
Honestly? How many years have I been proclaiming one? All
this time (at least since the CSG Conference in Boston in 2000 when I
made a presentation titled “Who Am I?”) I have speculated about
Level 12, a level that specifies what you label “System”
reference perceptions for yourself such as Republican, Democrat,
Independent or Apolitical.

Those are perceptions at the 11th level, system concepts. Higher levels
send reference signals to lower levels, but they don’t know their
meanings in lower-level terms. Each level perceives only what its own
input functions are capable of recognizing.

I’ve agree with you many times that there may be a 12th level, but while
I seem able to occupy it in order to know that a system concept level 11
exists, that’s about all I know, and it’s not about the 12th level. I’m
just deducing that since I seem to perceive something I call a system
concept, and know that is happening, I must be observing from a higher
level. I don’t have any idea what that next level might be.

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am unable to perceive. I understand the words “system level concept,” but I’ll be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that’s why I have such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

Bruce

[From Rick Marken (2010.02.01.0910)]

Bill Powers (2010.01.31.1445 MDT)--

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31) --

I have speculated about Level 12, a level that specifies what you label
"System" reference perceptions for yourself such as Republican, Democrat,
Independent or Apolitical.

Those are perceptions at the 11th level, system concepts. Higher levels send
reference signals to lower levels, but they don't know their meanings in
lower-level terms. Each level perceives only what its own input functions
are capable of recognizing.

This made me realize that Kenny has been pushing the idea that the
12th (highest) level of control is the "spiritual" level, which, for
him, is his version of Christianity. But, of course, from a PCT
perspective Christianity is an 11th level system concept perception.
If there is a 12th level of control, it is the level that would vary
system concepts like Christianity in order to achieve its goals.

If there is a 12th level of control in humans, it would be evidenced
by people who change system concepts. So people who convert from one
religion to another may be doing this for 12th order reasons. Same
with people who change from being fans of one team to being fans of
another. People who don't (or won't) change from controlling for one
system concept to controlling for another may have 12th level goals
that are being successfully achieved by having their system concepts
fixed as they are or they may have no 12th level. People who do change
change system concepts may be doing so in order to keep a 12th level
perception under control or because they are reorganizing to maintain
intrinsic variables.

I think the only way to determine if there is a 12th level is to
hypothesize the kind of variable being controlled at that level,
disturb that variable and see if the hypothesized 12th level variable
is protected from disturbance by variation in the 11th level system
concepts. In other words, do a test for control of the 12th level
perception. I have a hard enough time thinking of possible controlled
variables at the 5th and 6th level of the hierarchy so I won't be the
one doing this research. Maybe someone who spends more of their time
up there at levels 11 and 12 could come up with something.

Best

Rick

···

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

[From Bill Powers(2010.02.01.1015)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am unable to perceive. I understand the words "system level concept," but I'll be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that's why I have such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

I sincerely hope that you perceive them just as I do, but haven't given them a category to live in. After all, I offered these levels as universal among human beings, so if you're an exception, and not damaged in some way, I have to rethink the whole idea.

Maybe a few questions would clarify matters.

1. What comes to your mind when I mention "the banking system"?

2. Ditto for when I mention "physics"?

3. How about "mathematics"?

4. How about "the Smithsonian Institution"?

Remember the basic principle of PCT with regard to experience: if you experience it, it's a perceptual signal. No exceptions.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2010.02.01.0945)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am
unable to perceive. I understand the words "system level concept," but I'll
be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that's why I have
such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

I had a very hard time getting my head around the idea of higher level
perceptions as perceptions. I think the problem is that we tend to
think of the term "perception" as referring only to what in PCT are
the lower level perceptions: intensities, sensations, configurations,
transitions. These are the experiences that seem tangible: the
computer I'm typing on, the lamp. the sound of the radio, etc. Once we
get above these very low levels I think we tend to have difficulty
thinking in terms of perceptions. For example, relationships, like
"on" and "before" are perceptions but they seem more cognitive; not
like configurations that are "out there". The same is true for events
("a golf swing"), sequences (like the sequence of moves in a chess
game), programs, principles, system concepts. These are all perceptual
variables in PCT but it's hard to think of them as "perceptions", but
they are.

I think you can get an idea of what a higher level perception is like
by doing my "Hierarchy of Perception and Control" demo at
http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/HP.html. The configuration
perceptions (square, circle) seem like they are perceptions "out
there"; the transition perception (clockwise vs counterclockwise
apparent motion of the configurations) also seems like it's a
perception; but the sequence perception (small, medium large vs small,
large, medium) seems more cognitive; like it's inside your head. At
least that's the way it seems to me. It's the same with a system
concept perception, like Christianity. You can perceive Christianity
in the writings of the "New Testament", Judaism in the writings of the
"Old Testament" and Buddhism in the writings of the Buddha. Those are
perceptions but, like the perception of the sequence, they seem more
like they are inside rather than outside my head.

Conventional psychology uses the term "cognition" to refer to many of
the higher level perceptions that we call perceptions. I think using
the term "cognition" to refer to perceptions that are inside the head
is fine; it makes a nice experiential distinction. But in PCT (ie. in
theory) all of these experiences -- from configurations to system
concepts -- are perceptions.

Best

Rick

···

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

[From Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1837 UT)]

[From Bill Powers(2010.02.01.1015)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am unable to perceive. I understand the words “system level concept,” but I’ll be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that’s why I have such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

I sincerely hope that you perceive them just as I do, but haven’t given them a category to live in. After all, I offered these levels as universal among human beings, so if you’re an exception, and not damaged in some way, I have to rethink the whole idea.

Maybe a few questions would clarify matters.

  1. What comes to your mind when I mention “the banking system”?

  2. Ditto for when I mention “physics”?

  3. How about “mathematics”?

  4. How about “the Smithsonian Institution”?

Remember the basic principle of PCT with regard to experience: if you experience it, it’s a perceptual signal. No exceptions.

Each of those words reminds me of things. If I saw them in context I would doubtless be reminded of other things. People, buildings, books, experiences. Those are certainly perceptions in the PCT sense. For example, when you say Smithsonian Institution, I am reminded of the buildings on the Mall, the buildings in Cambridge, MA, the people I know who work in those buildings, the magazine, the cable TV network, exhibits… I “understand” the phrase “Smithsonian Institution” because I am familiar with these things. Most people are familiar with a smaller subset, say, the Castle on the Mall. I am not aware of experiencing the Smithsonian Institution as an entity. I know of no way that I can act on it as a whole. I know that it is a legal entity of some sort, but I seem to experience only its parts. These parts are linked by association in the way that towns are linked on a map, but there is no map that I experience. Or so it seems to me.

If I were a Congressman, I might perceive the Smithsonian as an entity, say by voting for its Federal budget. But as I sit here in Deep River there is no way that I can interact with or impact the Institution as a whole.

Sorry to be so vague, but the same vagueness would apply to the other words you asked about.

Bruce

[From Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1843)]

[From Rick Marken (2010.02.01.0945)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am
unable to perceive. I understand the words "system level concept," but I'll
be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that's why I have
such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

I had a very hard time getting my head around the idea of higher level
perceptions as perceptions. I think the problem is that we tend to
think of the term "perception" as referring only to what in PCT are
the lower level perceptions: intensities, sensations, configurations,
transitions. These are the experiences that seem tangible: the
computer I'm typing on, the lamp. the sound of the radio, etc. Once we
get above these very low levels I think we tend to have difficulty
thinking in terms of perceptions. For example, relationships, like
"on" and "before" are perceptions but they seem more cognitive; not
like configurations that are "out there". The same is true for events
("a golf swing"), sequences (like the sequence of moves in a chess
game), programs, principles, system concepts. These are all perceptual
variables in PCT but it's hard to think of them as "perceptions", but
they are.

BG: Yes, that's the problem I am having.

I think you can get an idea of what a higher level perception is like
by doing my "Hierarchy of Perception and Control" demo at
http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/HP.html. The configuration
perceptions (square, circle) seem like they are perceptions "out
there"; the transition perception (clockwise vs counterclockwise
apparent motion of the configurations) also seems like it's a
perception; but the sequence perception (small, medium large vs small,
large, medium) seems more cognitive; like it's inside your head. At
least that's the way it seems to me. It's the same with a system
concept perception, like Christianity. You can perceive Christianity
in the writings of the "New Testament", Judaism in the writings of the
"Old Testament" and Buddhism in the writings of the Buddha. Those are
perceptions but, like the perception of the sequence, they seem more
like they are inside rather than outside my head.

BG: Yes. Christianity is an abstraction. It is an entity only by analogy as far as I can tell.

Conventional psychology uses the term "cognition" to refer to many of
the higher level perceptions that we call perceptions. I think using
the term "cognition" to refer to perceptions that are inside the head
is fine; it makes a nice experiential distinction. But in PCT (ie. in
theory) all of these experiences -- from configurations to system
concepts -- are perceptions.

BG: I can understand that, I just can't experience it!

Thanks,

Bruce

[From Bill Powers (2010.02.01.1155 MST)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1837 UT)

BP earlier: Maybe a few
questions would clarify matters.

  1. What comes to your mind when I mention “the banking
    system”?

  2. Ditto for when I mention “physics”?

  3. How about “mathematics”?

  4. How about “the Smithsonian Institution”?

Remember the basic principle of PCT with regard to experience: if you
experience it, it’s a perceptual signal. No
exceptions.

BG: Each of those words reminds
me of things. If I saw them in context I would doubtless be reminded of
other things. People, buildings, books, experiences. Those are certainly
perceptions in the PCT sense. For example, when you say Smithsonian
Institution, I am reminded of the buildings on the Mall, the buildings in
Cambridge, MA, the people I know who work in those buildings, the
magazine, the cable TV network, exhibits… I “understand” the
phrase “Smithsonian Institution” because I am familiar with
these things.

BP: Yes, that’s what I mean. Difficult to put into words, but you know
what I mean when I say it. Its parts are lower-level perceptions, but
they’re not random, disconnected perceptions. They form a unity of some
sort, which we recognize when we see it or any part of it. As you say,
it’s “familiar.” Just what “it” is remains elusive,
but it’s there. Other people would probably say it’s just a concept, and
idea, an abstraction. But we know it’s there, so it’s a perception in the
HPCT lexicon. When I say words which indicate system concepts, they evoke
a sense of familiarity, of the presence of an entity of some sort, a
unity that we’ve seen before. That sense is the perception I
mean.

Most people are familiar with a
smaller subset, say, the Castle on the Mall. I am not aware of
experiencing the Smithsonian Institution as an entity. I know of no way
that I can act on it as a whole.

That’s because it’s a perception that is hard to influence, and to
influence it you would have to alter its principles of organization, its
logical procedures, rules, and customs, its name and standing as an
institution – all as you perceive them, of course. If word got to you
that Walmart had made a bid to use the Castle as a Washington outlet,
would you find that disturbing in any way? If Air and Space managers
decided to sell the original Eagle command module to Disneyland?
As Rick Marken so clearly put it, you can’t expect the higher levels of
perception to look like the lower levels. They’re things you just know
about, somehow. I’m sure you can perceive a sequence like “Mary had
a little lamb” etc… But can you touch the sequentiality about it?
Hear it? See it? Weigh it?
Clearly, A,B is a sequence different from B,A, so we obviously can
perceive sequentiality, but it’s not tangible. If you get the sequence of
letters wrong when spelling a word, you can see the error and you can act
to correct it, so it’s a controllable kind of perception. But it’s not an
object or a sensation.
I’m sure you perceive these things; you just don’t isolate them as a type
of perception. They’re “just there”, part of the world. They
don’t stand up, wave a flag, and yell “Hey, I’m a perception”.
The hardest part of putting together those eleven levels, what took me 30
years or so, was not finding the places where they were hidden. They
weren’t hidden. They were right there in plain view, but I just accepted
them as part of reality, not as something I was imposing on reality.
Without knowing it, I was making exceptions: everything is a perception
– except that, because that’s really there.

BG: Sorry to be so vague, but
the same vagueness would apply to the other words you asked
about.

The vagueness goes away after a while, once you start putting the label
“perception” on things you take for granted as simple existing
independently of you. But don’t think I’m unaware of the vagueness.
Because of it, I refer nowe and then to my “proposed” levels of
perception, not just “the levels”. I’m pretty sure about the
lower levels, though the details in specific models get more complicated
than the simple definitions would imply. “Events” is not in
such good shape; it may be misplaced. The higher levels are only sketched
in. The whole structure needs real investigation, not just the
introspections of one person. My best efforts are at the lowest levels,
where I know how to model some things and can demonstrate that they are
under control.

But the idea of exploring experience to sort out types of perceptions
remains valid, I think. The old introspectionists tried to do this, but
they didn’t have any underlying theoretical framework to hang their
findings on and it all got very messy and even vaguer than “system
concepts.” I still think we can take advantage of the Internal
Observer and find things that simply can’t be seen from any other
viewpoint.

Gotta go eat and shop now.

Best,

Bill P.

1 Like

[Martin Taylor 2010.02.01.12.29]

[From Bill Powers(2010.02.01.1015)]

Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1655 UT)

I say this perfectly sincerely: You seem able to perceive things that I am unable to perceive. I understand the words "system level concept," but I'll be dammed if I can perceive system level concepts. Maybe that's why I have such problems understanding the higher level of HPCT.

I sincerely hope that you perceive them just as I do, but haven't given them a category to live in. After all, I offered these levels as universal among human beings, so if you're an exception, and not damaged in some way, I have to rethink the whole idea.

Maybe a few questions would clarify matters.

1. What comes to your mind when I mention "the banking system"?

2. Ditto for when I mention "physics"?

3. How about "mathematics"?

4. How about "the Smithsonian Institution"?

Remember the basic principle of PCT with regard to experience: if you experience it, it's a perceptual signal. No exceptions.

On levels, you say: "After all, I offered these levels as universal among human beings," but in your actual models do you always set up the lowest levels in the same order as in the theory? Maybe I misremember, so please correct me, but don't you sometimes do position control by having the position controller output set the reference for a lower level velocity control? Without re-reading any of your writings, I seem to remember you arguing that to perceive velocity it was necessary to perceive location at successive times, which is correct in the abstract. But we know that velocity is abstracted at very peripheral levels (in the retina, I think without checking references), and the conscious perception of velocity is definitely dissociated from the perception of position, as though they were two interacting perceptions at the same low level (I'm thinking of the motion after-effect, in which one can adjust for (track) zero perceived velocity, which results in changing position, or for fixed position, which results in changing velocity.)

Again, I say that I may misremember, but if my memory is serving me well, does not this kind of question about the very low levels suggest that there may be issues about the existence of discrete higher levels of perception and their ordering according to apparently logical criteria?

Sorry if this is a misguided intervention.

But if I may answer your four questions for myself, each of the "what comes to mind" questions suggests a wide variety of perceptions, mostly in the form of imagery. Maybe I have the problem Rick so eloquently describes [From Rick Marken (2010.02.01.0945)]. Bruce seems to have the same kind of perceptions as I do [From Bruce Gregory (2010.02.01.1843)]. While I obviously go along with "if you experience it, it's a perceptual signal", nevertheless I'm not at all sure what "experience" I have of these entities other than the kind of thing I describe below. Using Bruce's concept of "story" I can tell a story about the interrelations and interactions among the entities, but those stories largely correspond to the dynamic imagery I mention. When discussing the conceptual structures embodied in the imagery, I can do no other than tell the story. I can't give anyone else access to the imagery. Anyway, here are my answers...

1, The banking system. Physical buildings, images of counters with tellers, memories of on-line interactions, imaginings of how interbank transfers might actually occur (with no knowledge other than as a customer, these are pure imaginings), memories of statements by high-level banking officials, linkage maps akin to those of city subway systems, etc., etc.

2, Physics. Some imagery of specific large and small hardware for experiments, but more prominently a large network representing cross-influences between theories and experimental data. This perceived network is an active pictorial image in which "influences" flow and affect "nodes". Images of stars and galaxies a-la Hubble pictures, images of fuzzy Bohr atoms, and things like that.

3, Mathematics. Two competing images, or perhaps one image with different kinds of area, one in which there is a network with clear interconnections of influence like that of physics, one more like one of Tolkien's mysterious magical forests, in which all sorts of strange things happen. There's are perceptions of a feeling of magic and mystery, as well as of clarity and the function of a key for many locks.

4, The Smithsonian Institution. A large red brick building I have seen on TV, containing interesting and amusing objects, plus people engaged in doing interesting things. The only thing akin to what might perhaps be a system perception occurs when I think of the network of administrative and collegial interactions among the people working in and visiting the establishment.

I doubt this helps the discussion in any way, but there are my answers, for what they are worth.

Martin

[From Bill Powers (2010.02.01.1510 MST)]

Martin Taylor 2010.02.01.12.29 --

MT: On levels, you say: "After all, I offered these levels as universal among human beings," but in your actual models do you always set up the lowest levels in the same order as in the theory? Maybe I misremember, so please correct me, but don't you sometimes do position control by having the position controller output set the reference for a lower level velocity control?

BP: Yes, that's right. In developing specific models to fit a particular behavior, I pay little attention to the "universal" levels I have proposed. You may recall my saying something similar during the MOL parts of the CSG meeting at Guelph that you organized: in looking for higher levels in MOL, practitioners should ignore my definitions and simply pursue what comes up, thinking in terms of relative levels, not absolute levels (that seems to make sense to practitioners). As far as I am concerned there is nothing definitive or proven about my proposals. They're only a starting point.

MT: Again, I say that I may misremember, but if my memory is serving me well, does not this kind of question about the very low levels suggest that there may be issues about the existence of discrete higher levels of perception and their ordering according to apparently logical criteria?

Sorry if this is a misguided intervention.

BP: I'm glad you brought it up. Even at the lower levels I keep thinking of alternative organizations, and so should everyone else do. I would hate to think that my proposals have become hardened into concrete before any research was even begun.

MT: Using Bruce's concept of "story" I can tell a story about the interrelations and interactions among the entities, but those stories largely correspond to the dynamic imagery I mention. When discussing the conceptual structures embodied in the imagery, I can do no other than tell the story. I can't give anyone else access to the imagery.

BP: Same problem I have been facing.

Anyway, here are my answers...

1, The banking system. Physical buildings, images of counters with tellers, memories of on-line interactions, imaginings of how interbank transfers might actually occur (with no knowledge other than as a customer, these are pure imaginings), memories of statements by high-level banking officials, linkage maps akin to those of city subway systems, etc., etc.

2, Physics. Some imagery of specific large and small hardware for experiments, but more prominently a large network representing cross-influences between theories and experimental data. This perceived network is an active pictorial image in which "influences" flow and affect "nodes". Images of stars and galaxies a-la Hubble pictures, images of fuzzy Bohr atoms, and things like that.

3, Mathematics. Two competing images, or perhaps one image with different kinds of area, one in which there is a network with clear interconnections of influence like that of physics, one more like one of Tolkien's mysterious magical forests, in which all sorts of strange things happen. There's are perceptions of a feeling of magic and mystery, as well as of clarity and the function of a key for many locks.

4, The Smithsonian Institution. A large red brick building I have seen on TV, containing interesting and amusing objects, plus people engaged in doing interesting things. The only thing akin to what might perhaps be a system perception occurs when I think of the network of administrative and collegial interactions among the people working in and visiting the establishment.

Excellent! So even lacking a clear concise description of a system concept from me, you come up with recognizeable clusters of lower-level perceptions organized under the labels I asked about. Quite probably, if you picked any one of those descriptions-by-example, you could describe a set of principles that would recognizeably belong under one system concept but not under others, and structures of logical thinking that go with each, and procedures, and categories -- though as the levels get lower more perceptions at a given level can serve more than one system concept as, indeed, HPCT would lead us to think.

I doubt this helps the discussion in any way, but there are my answers, for what they are worth.

Discussions like this are at the center of the discussion. The whole question is whether anybody but me can make any sense of the levels I proposed, not in terms of logical reasoning but simply by exploring how it seems to you. I don't find system concepts to be any more concrete than you or Bruce G. find them to be -- but I think we could discover enough by this sort of exploration to see if there is anything common enough among us to constitute a "level of perception" called systems, or system concepts. We talk enough about systems; it would be strange if the term didn't designate something we could perceive.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Kenny Kitzke (2010.02.02)]

May we explore this Level Twelve further?

At the system level of human perception, I have reference perceptions for people whom I conceive and experience as political adherents. This includes such perceptual concepts as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Fascists, Socialists, Communists, Capitalists, Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives, Apoliticalists, etc. For each of these system perceptual references, I conceive a number of beliefs such people generally hold and actions they would take to support those beliefs.

For example, I might conceive a Democrat is a person who believes that aborting a fetus is a legal choice a woman has the right to make, that tax rates should be raised higher on the wealthy and wealth spread more equally with the poor and voted for Barack Obama as President of the USA. Obviously, there would be many more beliefs and actions that might make a person a Democrat as I perceive them.

The perceptual references, both for the number of political adherents, their beliefs and their actions are practically uncountable. Further, they are probably unique to me. There is probably not another human alive who has the exact same list as I do.

Of all the possible political adherents, I am likely to be conscious of one for myself that I control for by my own unique beliefs and actions. Where did that reference come from? Why have I reorganized as I matured and now conceive myself as apolitical, believe that politics is a disturbance to enjoying my life and have lost interest in voting?

Something within me has established “apolitical” as the type of political adherent that is “right” for me. What this is in me is difficult to describe. It could be a Twelfth Level of a perceptual hierarchy which I think of as Self Concept. It could be an Observer of our Eleven Levels. It could be a Reorganization System that found by experimentation or analysis that Apolitical produces less error in me than any other conceptual choice. It could by my conscience of what is right or wrong for me, for self, for myself. It could be my human spirit that seeks freedom and peace for all people.

I speculate that who I am is largely determined by the system level reference perceptions for myself for which I exercise control through my behavior, whether consciously or unconsciously. To pretend we have in PCT or HPCT the essence of human nature while being unclear and unable to demonstrate how our system level references are originated or how they change or how they can be changed has always been the key missing element why they have not been broadly accepted in science or in life.

I share your belief that there is still much to discover and demonstrate about PCT before it can provide a comprehensive and valuable psychological understanding of why people behave as they do. It is a wonderful challenge for all of us to pursue this purpose building on a sure foundation that you have laid.

Kenny

In a message dated 2/1/2010 11:04:33 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, powers_w@FRONTIER.NET writes:

I can hardly believe the perception of my eyes!  Bill Powers writes, "we're all trying to understand how the human system is organized, and we're all, perhaps, trying to take the first steps toward building Level Twelve."

The Twelfth Level of Human Perception!  Possibly?  Honestly?  How many years have I been proclaiming one?  All this time (at least since the CSG Conference in Boston in 2000 when I made a presentation titled "Who Am I?") I have speculated about Level 12, a level that specifies what you label "System" reference perceptions for yourself such as Republican, Democrat, Independent or Apolitical.

[From Bill Powers (2010.01.31.1445 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.01.31) –

Those are perceptions at the 11th level, system concepts. Higher levels send reference signals to lower levels, but they don’t know their meanings in lower-level terms. Each level perceives only what its own input functions are capable of recognizing.

I’ve agree with you many times that there may be a 12th level, but while I seem able to occupy it in order to know that a system concept level 11 exists, that’s about all I know, and it’s not about the 12th level. I’m just deducing that since I seem to perceive something I call a system concept, and know that is happening, I must be observing from a higher level. I don’t have any idea what that next level might be.

Best,

Bill P.

May we explore this Level Twelve
further?

At the system level of human perception, I have reference perceptions for
people whom I conceive and experience as political
adherents.
[From Bill Powers (2010.02.02.07554 MST)]

Kenny Kitzke (2010.02.02)

···

Perceptions, I think you mean. Perception = how it actually looks to me;
Reference perception = how I would prefer it to look.

This includes such perceptual
concepts as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Fascists, Socialists,
Communists, Capitalists, Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives,
Apoliticalists, etc. For each of these system perceptual
references, I conceive a number of beliefs such people generally hold and
actions they would take to support those
beliefs.

It’s hard to distinguish category names, level 7, from system concepts.
The difference here is whether you’re naming a whole class of people who
differ in all sorts of ways, but for various reasons are seen as the
same, or naming systems or system concepts, which are perceived as
abstractions. Republicans, for example, are people who adhere to a system
concept called federalism, among others, rather than democracy. You’re
naming categories of people who uphold different system concepts, but the
system concepts are not people. Well, I have to take that back, sort of,
because I think “personality” is a system concept, and so is
the idea of “myself.” But those things are not people in
themselves, even though they apply to a person. Aaargh! It’s very hard to
put system concepts into words.

For example, I might conceive a
Democrat is a person who believes that aborting a fetus is a legal choice
a woman has the right to make, that tax rates should be raised higher on
the wealthy and wealth spread more equally with the poor and voted for
Barack Obama as President of the USA. Obviously, there would be
many more beliefs and actions that might make a person a Democrat as I
perceive them.
The perceptual references, both
for the number of political adherents, their beliefs and their actions
are practically uncountable. Further, they are probably unique to
me. There is probably not another human alive who has the exact
same list as I do.
Of all the possible political
adherents, I am likely to be conscious of one for myself that I control
for by my own unique beliefs and actions. Where did that reference
come from? Why have I reorganized as I matured and now conceive
myself as apolitical, believe that politics is a disturbance to enjoying
my life and have lost interest in voting?

I think you’re right in seeing what you call beliefs as being one level
down, supporting system concepts. What you call beliefs in this context I
call principles. And when you say a given set of beliefs makes a person a
Democrat, that would be more like what I mean by a system concept if you
said the person supports the concept of democracy.
However, what you describe are procedures mixed in with principles.
Aborting a fetus is a procedure, making a choice is a procedure, but the
idea of a right to make a choice is a principle. Under the
principle that a woman has a right to make a choice, those procedures are
acceptable. Under other principles, such as the sacredness of life, they
are not.

Agreed. That’s why the levels have general labels, without referring to
any specific examples. Where you are like other people is in having the
same levels of perception and control, not in perceiving and controlling
the same examples of each level.

That’s interesting because you have implicitly stated that two levels are
involved: you conceive yourself as apolitical, and presumably that
matches your reference level for the degree of being political (zero).
You also want that level of being political as a means of enjoying your
life. So that makes the perception of enjoying life higher in the
heirarchy than being or not being political. Clearly it doesn’t work if
we interchange the levels: you do not become happy or unhappy as a means
of being more or less political.

Something within me has established
“apolitical” as the type of political adherent that is
“right” for me. What this is in me is difficult to
describe. It could be a Twelfth Level of a perceptual hierarchy
which I think of as Self Concept. It could be an Observer of our
Eleven Levels. It could be a Reorganization System that found by
experimentation or analysis that Apolitical produces less error in me
than any other conceptual choice. It could by my conscience of what
is right or wrong for me, for self, for myself. It could be my
human spirit that seeks freedom and peace for all
people.
I speculate that who I am is
largely determined by the system level reference perceptions for myself
for which I exercise control through my behavior, whether consciously or
unconsciously. To pretend we have in PCT or HPCT the essence of
human nature while being unclear and unable to demonstrate how our system
level references are originated or how they change or how they can be
changed has always been the key missing element why they have not been
broadly accepted in science or in life.
I share your belief that there
is still much to discover and demonstrate about PCT before it can provide
a comprehensive and valuable psychological understanding of why people
behave as they do. It is a wonderful challenge for all of us to
pursue this purpose building on a sure foundation that you have
laid.

Of course I don’t know what it is, either. But apparently it’s enjoying
your life that determines whether you’ll be political or not, according
to whether being political leads to a perception of happiness. So that
would explain why you gave up on politics: something about it was causing
an error at the next level up, an error you experience as not enjoying
your life, a sense that there’s something wrong with your life. I’d say
that what you mean by “my life” is a system concept. If you
could identify just what it was about being political that led to the
feeling of error, the picture would be more complete.

Unfortunately, even knowing exactly what higher purpose was satisfied by
selecting a particular reference level for a system concept would only
generate another question of the same kind: where that higher purpose, a
higher reference level for a higher perception, came from. To ask
“why” really presupposes an answer, and in a subtle way asserts
that there is a higher level yet, so you’ll have to ask the question
again. If you decide that God made the universe, after a while you have
to start wondering who made

God.

Up to a point it’s good to keep looking for a higher level, because the
picture isn’t complete until you’ve found the highest level. But what
happens if, in fact, you have already found the highest level that we
have developed so far? If you go on asking why, expecting to find still
another level, and indeed intending to find one, you’re going to have to
start making things up. I remember talking with a mystic (who called
himself “Doctor Chronos”) about the levels I thought I had
found so far, and he dismissed me with a scornful laugh. He said,
“Oh, there are thousands of levels!” Of course there are, once
you start making them up and stop looking for real evidence that they
exist.

Thanks, Kenny. We don’t agree about some things, but somehow we manage to
get along very well with each other. Hugh Gibbons stated the principle
better than anyone else: “Respect for the will of others.” He
saw that as the fundamental principle behind the structure of law. I
think it’s the requirement for a peaceful society.

Best,

Bill P.