More flies

[From Bill Powers (950526.1605 MDT)]

Bruce Abbott (950526.1700 EST) --

     My description of how a fly lands on the ceiling is more like the
     answer Johnny was looking for--superficial but adequate for the
     purpose. I'm not offering an S-R explanation even if it looks that
     way on the short form.

I guess I see what you mean. It occurs to me that we're using the word
"how" differently, in the question "How does the fly land on the
ceiling?" One meaning is," Tell me all the things that we can see
happening as a fly lands on the ceiling." In the other meaning -- which
is the one I automatically assume -- the question is "What is going on
inside the fly which would account for what we see happening?"

To have a more detailed description of what happens is useful, in that
it gives us more details to account for. But no matter how detailed the
description, it doesn't reveal the processes inside the fly that
determine what MATTERS about what we see. The pure observation is
something like a little kid describing what an orchestra conductor does:

"He lifts up his elbows and waves a stick, and he runs his hand through
his hair and pulls his coat down, and he opens his mouth wide with his
eyebrows up, and he knocks the music sheets onto the floor, and he
points to people, and sometimes he shakes his head real hard. And all
the time, there are these guys playing music."



Bill P.