[From: Bruce Nevin (Wed 93016 12:54:24)]

It seems to me that problems and solutions are theory-dependent.

What constitutes a "problem" depends one's ignorance that one is

aware of. Ignorance of which one is unaware is the blissful kind

(even if error results that is not blissful--no connection to the

ignorance can be made, and pain is often misattributed).

Awareness of ignorance has to do with gaps in the constructs

(themselves perceptions, of course) by which we try to organize

our perceptions (mostly remembered and imagined perceptions).

This is how I put it in (Fri 921218 13:24:41):

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The perceptions to which we pay attention are more clearly

defined and longer lasting in memory than those we disregard. In

this way, we create reference levels for selected perceptions

(selected by having attended to them). When we use these in

imagination, unforeseen perceptions come up as ramifications and

consequences. By reasoning about these, we develop/impose order

and structure in them. In these perceptions of order and

structure there are gaps. A gap of this sort provides a context

for recognizing a perception ("real" or imagined) for what it

"really is," and by that I mean perceiving it as a filler of that

gap. (Related perhaps to Gibson's notion of affordances.)

This we call intuition or insight.

The things we have conscious control over are: what we pay

attention to, how well we pay attention to them, and how well we

reason about them. The rest is on automatic pilot.

The part for which we have some conscious responsibility includes

how we interpret perceptions as to what they "really are" (what

they constitute at higher levels). And of course how attached we

are to our conclusions as imagined perceptions. We know that one

false premise puts the conclusions at random, but we often forget

or ignore this in practice. When we use as premises conclusions taken

from prior lines of reasoning from premises based on authority,

etc., the house of cards looks pretty shaky.

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If we use the term "theory" for constructs of that sort, then

"problems" are always perceived relative to one's theory.

If this is true, then how can Perceptual Control Theory address a

problem as identified by mainstream psychologists (sociologists,

control theorists, etc.) within their respective theories? PCT

can address only problems as identified within PCT.

That way of putting it is fairly succinct, but implies that the

difficulty is due to a deficiency of PCT (or of the would-be

problem-solver, whatever the pair of theories). Rather,

one finds it very hard trying to understand the PCT treatment of

the problem simultaneously in terms of the other theory (as

"problem") and in terms of PCT (as "solution").

This leads to the non-revolutionary two-step:

1. Problem in other-theory terms.

2. Solution in PCT terms.

1'. Non-solution in other-theory terms.

We have seen how it does not work to frame the solution in terms

that are compatible with the other theory. The whole spectrum of

predictable responses ensues, from "So what?" to "Old hat!" to

"Huh?"

Perhaps another step is needed in the process:

1. Problem in other-theory terms.

2. Same problem in PCT terms.

3. Solution in PCT terms.

1'. Contrast with non-solution in other-theory terms.

In many cases, step (2) is to show that there is no problem in

PCT terms, and then steps (3) and (1') show why this is really OK

as a resolution.

It might be useful actually to show how statistical results of

the sort typically found in the literature follow from a

statistical treatment of models of control systems, identically

to the same statistical treatment of the modelled control systems

-- but how the models and modelling data are much more

interesting and useful for the purposes to which the statistical

results are typically (and inappropriately) applied.

In other cases, a real re-framing of the problem may be possible.

Then (1') becomes crucial for demonstrating the legitimacy of the

re-framing and the solution.

Bruce

bn@bbn.com