Mush or Abstraction?

[From Chris Cherpas (951031.1157 PT)]

[re: >Dag Forssell (951031 0945)]


This is an open book assignment, and CSG-L is an open forum. If
anyone else butts in with comments, I will simply incorporate,
ignore or comment on them in my response. I expect to learn a
little about Thorndike from this exercise, both from my friends on
CSG-L and from reading about him myself.

OK. By the way, thanks for the floppies. Your $10 is in the mail.

For example, Thorndike does not suggest an explanation that is a
functional mechanism, but suggests a flow chart of suggestive words
which you fill with meaning from your imagination.

Discrete mechanism is not the only legitimate construct for science.
While specifying relations between functional variables (a la Thorndike)
is not the ultimate goal, per se, it is part of the puzzle
(e.g., see Henry Bauer's "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the
Scientific Method," 1994, on the puzzle metaphor of science).
Thorndike was perhaps a "contextualist," which is always in danger
of the reducio ad absurdum to mere narrative, but is still more
pragmatic than mush. Perhaps Thorndike's versus your perspective
may be likened to S.C. Pepper's (1942) distinction between
"consolidated mechanistic" versus "discrete mechanistic" world
hypothesis. Delprato (1993) in the _Behavior Analyst_ characterizes
behavior analysis this way.

Discrete mechanisms give more detail, but black boxes may serve
as useful abstractions until the details are available.

Butting CSG-L-er,