On the "Decision Making Entity"

[from Mary Powers 940204]

(Bob Clark 940202)

I am having trouble with your concept of the "Decision Making
Entity, which you equate with pronouns referring to the self:
I, you, etc.

First, I think the choice of the term "entity" is unfortunate. To
me it implies that when all is said and done, there is some kind
of homunculus running the control system hierarchy.

It also is similar to the "decision making mechanism" of Lord and
Hanges, i.e., they also believe that there is something special
about decision making (and went on to draw a loop from the output
of a lower level up to the level above - this was totally
arbitrary and outside the constraints of a control system model -
the point is, they also felt decision making was highly important
and not handled by the model).

I believe that most of the time living systems operate without
making decisions. They do what they do, and pretty much
unawaredly. Especially at the physiological level. I don't think
you really believe, say, than when you are sick some "entity" has
to consciously " decide" to raise your metabolism and run a
fever? That is the implication of your statement that the DME
"operate[s] in terms of the welfare of the basic physiological
systems" and that "decision making require[s] that the individual
be 'conscious', or the equivalent, 'aware'".

On the one hand you state that DME's exist in all living systems,
with and without central nervous systems, and on the other hand
you require consciousness and awareness for decision making.

It seems to me that decision making is primarily a phenomenon at
the strategy or program level, where courses of action are run
through imagination, and possible consequences considered. I'm
going to town at noon and I want to go to the post office, the
grocery store, and the library. The post office is the first
place I get to from home. The grocery store is easiest to get to
from the post office. Both are hard to get to from the library.
The post office is most crowded at lunch hour. If I go to the
grocery store first the ice cream will melt while I'm in the
library and the post office.

No special DME is required here. This is what the program level
is for. I can choose numerous alternatives: decide that waiting
in the post office line is not that big a hassle, buy all the
groceries except the ice cream and pick that up later at a
different store, or go to the library first, choosing the greater
difficulty in maneuvering back to the other places over the
prospect of waiting in line at the post office and the prospect
of melted ice cream, and get to the post office after 1:30, and
then get the groceries and go home. And the "I" doing all this is
not necessarily anything more than the level above, maintaining
some really minor principles: I don't like to wait in line, I
want to get the ice cream home frozen, I don't want to have to
make a left turn from 12th to Main.

There is no conflict about what I want to accomplish, but how I
imagine going about it reveals some possible conflicts, so I
choose a strategy, in a very general sense, that I think will be
the most successful in achieving my assorted goals. As I go past
the post office on the way to the library, I see hardly any cars
in the lot, so I immediately change my mind about the prospect of
waiting in line, and go there first. No sweat. Or drive up to
14th from the library where I can make my left turn with a
traffic light. Whatever. The point is that this is all worked out
by various levels in the hierarchy, not a special entity.

It seems to me that our sense of "I" is usually located at the
level just above where we are operating, and that where most of
us operate most of the time is at the program level. Therefore
the most important thing that seems to be going on is decisions.
But if you go up a level to principles, suddenly "I' isn't there
any more, "I" is another level up, _having_ the principles.
Deciding has stopped being the important thing. If you go up
another level, and become aware of the self having the
principles, "I" is ... what? I don't know, but I do think that
deciding has become decidedly unimportant.

As you have requested, I'm letting you know what I think. I think
you have focussed on a level of the hierarchy that functions in a
particular way, and inflated that function into an entity that
runs the whole hierarchy. I think that adding the DME is not a
useful or desirable way to "adjust" PCT.

Mary P.