Ordinary language

[From Bill Powers (930515.0930)]

Bob Clark (930514.1710) --

Your recommendations about ordinary language are very much to the
point for communicating control theory under everyday
circumstances. This is really the "end-around play" that Dag
Forsell proposes -- forget about the Establishment of psychology,
and go directly to the people. As you say, Ed Ford has also
become very good at doing this. Your own experiences with city
government will be a valuable source of information about how to
get the ideas across without technical terms.

I think there is a certain point, as people begin to grasp the
structure of ideas, where introducing SOME of the language of
control theory can help understanding grow even when there's no
thought of getting into the technicalities. Comparison, for
example, seems to be an easy concept to get across.: comparing
what you're perceiving with what you want to be perceiving. In
working with David Goldstein, I've found it not too difficult to
convey the idea of hierarchically-related perceptions and goals,
without trying name specific levels but simply by showing that
behind the goals one is ordinarily conscious of there are
"background thoughts" that lead to awareness of higher
considerations and goals. This "method of levels" requires little
more than getting people to describe the current awared goals,
the principle being that you can't be aware OF a level of
perception while still operating IN it. I think that people have
an intuitive understanding of "going up a level," but if you have
some systematic concept of what's going on, it's easier to get
people to do it. Going up a level is, I believe, an essential
move in conflict resolution. As you probably recall, I've been
interested in the role of awareness in mental life for a long



Bill P.