[From Rick Marken (2003.03.22.2000)]
Tom Hancock (2003.03.22.1800 PST)
My question is related to the one I just sent out about will and
Suppose I start thinking about the "right" system concept perceptions
control for--where does that "right" come from and according to
theory, why would I start thinking about it?
This is a great question.
My first thought is that the "right" perception (of any kind) in PCT is
one that that matches a reference. The "right" reference (or goal)
specification for a perception is one that allows control of a higher
level perception and produces no conflict. In general, what is "right"
for a person (from a PCT perspective) is to be able maintain control of
all the perceptions that matter to the person. So I think what you are
asking is how does one select the right system concept goals (to be an
American, an Iraqi, a Christian, a secular humanist, a Dodger fan, etc),
the one's that allow successful control.
If system concepts are _not_ the highest goals in one's hierarchy then
the right system concepts are the ones that, when controlled, make it
possible for the person to control even higher level perceptions. I
think there is this higher level of control but I don't know what to
call it. It's the level of control in me that can look at different
system concepts (like the ones just mentioned) and determine which ones
I like (the one's which I will have the goal of perceiving myself as)
and which one's I don't care about. If, however, system concepts _are_
the highest goals in one's hierarchy then (according to PCT) I think the
references for the system concept perceptions we control for are
selected by reorganization, which would adjust these references in order
to minimize intrinsic error (error in the control systems controlling
variables like blood sugar that are necessary for survival).
I remember that we had
said that certain RS are innate or hard-wired. If so, would we say
they are universal in humans?
Are RS references? If so, then it's the intrinsic references --
references for perceptions of essential physiological variables -- that
I just mentioned. And I believe they would be universal in humans. They
are the variables (like O2 concentration in the blood) that must be
maintained at certain levels if a person is to survive.
I used to study anthropology a lot, and
though some of the discussion lately indicated otherwise, I seem to
recall certain values that were nearly universal.
I would guess that certain values (references for principle perceptions,
say) are pretty nearly universal inasmuch as reference settings for such
variables must vary within a restricted range or people would lose
control of their intrinsic perceptions and the system setting such
references would have to be changed. For example, all cultures probably
have a value that it's wrong to kill (at least within the tribe) because
doing so makes it impossible for the tribe to cooperatively control the
variables that allow survival (like hunting, cooking, etc).
(You know that I
personally believe there are universals truths--in addition to the
of perception, but I am honestly trying to see if PCT can handle these
I don't know what you mean by "universal truths" but, as I said, I can
imagine certain values and principles appearing to be universally held
by all people simply because controlling for other values, like killing
and stealing, end up creating intrinsic error for enough people that the
tribe works to make sure (as best as they can) that everyone controls
for not killing and not stealing. In other words, I think there are
"universal values" that emerge out of our nature as controllers of our
perceptual experience. I think that by the time a person can control
sequence and program (contingency) type perceptions they can quickly
imagine what's wrong with killing and stealing. That is, they could see
what would happen if others did unto them as they would do unto others.
I know that I figured it out by the time I was 5. I remember watching
bad guys in a Western and thinking that nobody must do that stuff
anymore (kill and steal) because it's obviously so dysfuctional.
Unfortunately, I was wrong about that. But, still, most people seem to
have figured it out.
Richard S. Marken