[From Bill Powers (921226.0700 MST)]
Eileen Prince (921225) --
To the limits of my knowledge, and these are great, I am in
fact trying to apply PCT; however, it doesn't always help with
those who are not of a PCT bent themselves. If you want me to
We are birds of a feather. By all means, elaborate.
Oded Maler (921226)--
I do like your sensible and realistic comments. Of course not
everyone is interested in PCT. And of course play is necessary --
doing things that have no immediate application, just to enjoy
the truth and beauty of whatever one can discover.
People who are doing, say, mathematics of non-linear dynamics
are interested in general properties of some systems obeying
certain rules. Period. Although some others may try to apply
this math to psychology by using the wrong (i.e., non-PCT)
model of behavior, it does not mean that some fundamental
truths about such systems are not relevant and will not be
needed when more complex PCT models will be built.
This is all true. I trust you aren't saying that ALL of the
studies of arbitrary systems will prove to be relevant and
applicable to understanding human behavior.
The world (at least not all of it) does not turn around the
PCT-non-PCT controversery in the explanation of human behavior.
This hard fact do not under-determine the *objective* beauty
and power of PCT, nor its importance as a stage in the
development of human understanding. But not realizing this, and
classifying all the rest of the world as "us" and "them" might
lead an untrained observer to perceive a peace-loving other-
cheek-turner as a fanatic.
A little fanaticism is appropriate if it's limited to the
boundaries of the PCT-non-PCT controversy. You need some kind of
support structure when there are so many people who look on your
views with disdain, condescension, and irritation, apparently
believing that this is how science is supposed to work.
On another topic, I'm reading Sacks' "The man who mistook his
wife for a hat" and although apparently the author does not
know that ..., I think it is really worth reading. It might be
intersting to try to give PCT crude explanations of the
phenomenon he describes.
The literature of mental malfunction must be rich with
possibilities for the furtherance of HPCT. To make use of it,
however, there must be people willing to sort through the
mountains of information available to look for dependencies among perceptual
processes and begin the enormous task of drawing the
map we need. A large obstacle is the fact that the behavioral
deficits that have been found have been characterized without any
coherent model in the background. We need a systematic approach
to this subject with model-relevant experiments used for
diagnosis instead of rather casual subjective impressions of what
is wrong. It may be that even with all that data available, the
facts that we need to know simply have not yet been observed.
The following is a cross-posting from the Control (in the
mathematical engineering sense) mailing list. It contains
titles of all papers in the subject published recently. Just
for information I don't claim anything will be relevant.
If you wanted to make me feel ignorant, you certainly succeeded.
How I wish that I could understand all that stuff! The next great
leap forward in PCT is going to be generated by a person who is
comfortable with those advanced mathematical treatments, AND who
has a clear idea of the phenomena of behavior that need to be
explained. That person hasn't appeared yet, and probably won't
until the basic concepts of PCT have been accepted widely enough
that a person could devote a career to it.
I would love to write a paper for journals like these explaining
what we are trying to do with PCT and how people with such great
talents could contribute to the work. But such a paper would have
to be written by someone who speaks the language; anything I
wrote would be considered too simple-minded even to be
interesting to the readership. PCT needs translators; people like
Gary Cziko and Hugh Petrie in education, and McPhail, Tucker, and
McClelland in sociology, and Robertson and Goldstein in
psychotherapy, and Ford in counselling and social work, and Nevin
and Andrews (and more) in linguistics, and Forssell and Soldani
in management consulting, and Martin Taylor and the various Gangs
(of 1, 3, or 5) in the design of complex systems, and Cliff
Joslyn and his cohort in cybernetics, and Rick Marken in (now)
human factors, and Tom Bourbon in neuropsychology, and all the
rest who have a foothold in two worlds, one of which is PCT.
The world of psychology seems almost closed to PCT, but
psychologists are not the only ones who are trying to understand
human nature. PCT can spread to other disciplines, and is doing
so. In every case, however, this spread has been none of my
doing, but the doing of others who can take the basic ideas to
their own colleagues and explain them in relation to the
interests of those other disciplines. There always remains the
problem of displacing the old concepts of human behavior,
traceable mostly to conventional psychology and biology, but this
is done most easily by people who grew up with those ideas and
understand how they look to those who have adopted them.
We lack biologists and biochemists and control-system engineers,
among others. Maybe these, along with psychologists, are the
toughest nuts to crack because of the direct contradictions
involved in biology, and the implied competition in control engineering. If
anyone knows people in these fields who might be
willing to join in, by all means try to recruit them.
And you, Oded. Are you all alone in your appreciation of the
concepts of PCT? Do you have any colleagues who show any