Proposal for a 12th HPCT Level

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2140 EST)]

Some of the recent discussions about the System Concept level of
the HPCT hierarchy, and a possible 12th level, led me to try to
compile some ideas I have been having. I hope they may become
clear within a broadly-stated developmental approach.

The first idea to note is that a system concept is a highly
abstracted form of constructed perception. It is thus a late
addition, to my way of thinking, to a developing hierarchy of
perceptual control.

The second idea to note is that system concepts are not the
true top of a HPCT hierarchy. The neurologically constructed
perceptions, however many there may be at a given stage of
development, exist within a context of what Powers calls
Intrinsic Variables necessary for life. Those intrinsic
variables are the raison d’etre for the rest of the hierarchy
coming into being, and being shaped accordingly. “Shaped�? is
not exactly the right word here, because the intrinsic level
operates with a surprisingly tolerant Reorganization process
as its method of control. The random-search quality of
Reorganization means that any number of possible arrangements
of lower level controlled perceptions might succeed in providing
control of the intrinsic variables.

from a developmental perspective, layers of control arise
because they more efficiently allow for more successful control
of the crucial physiological variables. As such, they become
inserted between the intrinsic domain of control -- which
maintains cellular and other systemic requirements at their
proper amounts -- and the more rudimentary (read: lower or more
peripheral) types of perceptual control.

At every stage in development, it is an insertion of a new type
of perceptual control, on top of the stack of (non-intrinsic)
perceptual control existing to that point. The reason for such
an insertion would be more efficient mediation, between a
developing perceptual hierarchy and the higher (or deeper)
intrinsic domain dealing with physiological variables essential
to the whole system.

For example, a human neonate has certain rudimentary perceptions
capable of being controlled. They likely include things like
intensities (e.g., warmth), sensations (e.g., sound frequencies),
configurations (e.g., crying), transitions (e.g., turning one’s
head). They likely do not yet include abstract notions such as
“family.�? A neonate also has, from the beginning, intrinsic
needs for oxygen, intercellular calcium, blood sugars, and a
host of other physiological variables essential for life.

By controlling some of its rudimentary perceptions -- such as
crying(!), at certain frequencies(!), loudly(!) -- it can
disturb an unknown entity it will later call “mother�? into
supplying some of those intrinsic needs. In this way, it
effectively expands its own feedback path far beyond the limited
proficiency of its own behavioral repertoire.

As it develops and become more proficient, it will learn
to control (i.e., insert on top of its stack of controlled
perceptions) such new perceptions as “proximity-to-mother,�?
as a way to better ensure the provision of those intrinsic
variables. Part of its later development will eventually
include learning to perceive, and then control, such system
concepts as “how-a-family-operates.�? Those layers do not exist
from the beginning. They get constructed and inserted as the
child develops.

I do believe, however, that within the proposal known as
Hierarchical Perceptual Control, there is room for a better
interface between the intrinsic domain and whatever lower
levels exist at a given point in development. I would call
this interface layer Attachment Variables.

There is evidence, from neurophysiological research with
different “animal models,�? that neuroendocrine substrates such
as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids are implicated
in what appear to be social forms of bondiappear to be operative from both the infant and maternal
directions, mediated by skin-to-skin (or fur-to-fur) contact,
or perhaps by characteristic smells during early development.
I wonder about them as some kind of interface layer, because
control of such variables seems to have one foot in the
physiological camp, as it were, and the other foot in the
camp of social affiliation.

I am not sure these substances have the same status as the
chemical nutrients essential for life. But I believe they
may form a bridge, in social mammals, facilitating access to
the essential intrinsic variables, which in early stages of
development are provided (in part) by parental figures.

The mechanism here would seem to be a redistribution of the
infant’s multi-level output functions, partitioning them among
intra-organism behavioral components and environmental feedback
function components operating within a relatively stable
(i.e., parental) world. If some of the task of controlling
intrinsic variables can be “delegated,�? so to speak, to the
more extensive control machinery of a parent, there is less
for the as-yet-undeveloped machinery of the infant to handle.

There is obviously no way for the infant to cognitively “know�?
how to partition its feedback path into such components on the
output side of things. So if it occurs, it must be as an
offshoot of controlling a higher level variable, which I would
propose is an attachment variable. To increase the amounts of
its own attachment variables would seem to simultaneously
increase the attachment variables of the caretaker, leading to
a complicated but reliable feedback path serving the infant’s
needs. In this way, the parent becomes part of the lower-level
means of attainment of the infant’s higher-level intrinsic needs.

from the infant’s side of things, attachment variables could
funnel its own lower level hierarchy of control toward
developing variables indirectly helpful for intrinsic control.
While a random E-coli reorganization process can indeed converge
successfully on a control arrangement that works, the presence
of attachment variables might constrain the search space to
arrangements with social utility. Again, the utility of such
social arrangements is that of expanding the feedback path,
to include the much more extensive competence of a parental
figure as the means for the infant to “meet its own needs.�?
That could be a distinct advantage to animals with a fairly
vulnerable and dependent period during infancy.

Some of the benefit of controlling these relatively high level
attachment variables could be as a guide to the operation of
the lower level hierarchy. Attachment variables may provide
the “interim rationale�? (read: reference signals) for the lower
level stack of control systems. Lower level perceptions which
succeed in increasing the amounts of attachment variables would
have a greater chance of having an indirect payoff in terms of
attaining intrinsic variables themselves. In other words,
control for the attachment variables and you may end up
successfully controlling for the intrinsic variables.

Because attachment variables, if they exist, are part of the
perceptual hierarchy itself (albeit at a high level), their
mechanism of action is different from that of the intrinsic
variables. Intrinsic control uses reorganization to achieve
its effects. Perceptual control uses reference signals. To
put it colloquially, successful intrinsic control means
“stop changing,�? which amounts to saying “retain that ability.�?
Perceptual control means “follow me, (whether I change or not).�?
I believe attachment control is a bit of a hybrid between the
two. Successful attachment variable control could mean
“you’re in the right vicinity,�? or “you’re going in the right
direction,�? which amounts to saying “keep doing (whatever is
underway).�?

There is an implication of thisin mind. If Attachment Variables operate as the highest
(i.e., 12th) level of the HPCT hierarchy, for stability’s sake
they must operate relatively slowly. As new layers of control
are constructed and inserted beneath them, control of
attachment variables must continually be slower than whatever
new layers emerge, or the overall system becomes unstable.
One cannot (successfully) call for results faster than they
can be produced.

This implies relatively wide tolerances in how attachment
control systems operate. In other words, control of attachment
variables may function as a steady tendency or gentle press on
lower level references, but nothing immediately life-threatening
that requires high-gain action. This may explain how “failure
to thrive�? in neglected infants -- thought to result in part
from lack of tactile stimulation -- arises as a gradual wasting
away that indeed has an effect, but seemingly elicits no strong
disturbance-resistance.

The other implication of this proposal, and where this notion
first began, is that control of the attachment variables may
provide a (slowly operating) frame of reference for control of
one’s system concepts, once that level has emerged. Let me
suggest a possible example, albeit from adult development. In
grad school, I remember reading an article by Julian Rappaport
(who at least at the time was at Gary Cziko’s institution, the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). I found it very
insightful about potential mechanisms of change. The article
was “Narrative Studies, Personal Stories, and Identity
Transformation in the Mutual Help Context,�? _The Journal of
Applied Behavioral Science, Vol.29, No. 2_, June 1993, pp.
239-256.

The heart of the article was conceptualizing self-help
organizations as “narrative communities,�? constituted by
shared stories. He makes the case that “the way that a
mutual help organization provides members with an identity
is through the narrative it tells about the community of
membership, about how members change�? (p. 247). He asserts,
“an alternative identity is provided,...those who become
embedded members do so by transforming their personal life
stories so as to conform to the community narrative�? (p. 249).
What came to mind for me was the quite extensive change in
system concepts about the self, encountered for many in AA.
For instance, the formerly adamant assertions that “I don’t
have a drinking problem!�? somehow turn into “Hi, I’m Bob,
and I’m an alcoholic.�? What seems to make the difference is a
change of affiliations, embodied in a change of communities.

Perhaps this is just talking about different sub-layers of
system concepts. But I suspect there is a deeper affiliative
core, similar to what are thought of as attachment patterns.
Because they are slow-acting, one’s system concepts do not
change frequently or easily. But when they do, they often
take the form of conversions, annunciations, or transformative
events. Perhaps this notion of Attachment Variables, acting
as physiological-and-social hybrids bridging the Intrinsic
domain and the constructed Perceptual hierarchy, has something
to offer to the discussion.

All the best,
Erling

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<<<<RCMH>>>>

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2235 EST)]

In the post I just sent, I notice what appear to be
a couple of transmission errors, in how a couple of the
paragraphs came out. In each case, it seems a portion
of a sentence or two did not come through correctly.

The corrected paragraphs appear below, one occuring
about halfway through the post, & the other closer to
the end. (In the original post, the paragraphs are
indicated by the margins being out of kilter.)

First correction:
...
There is evidence, from neurophysiological research with
different �animal models,� that neuroendocrine substrates such
as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids are implicated
in what appear to be social forms of bonding. Such substances
appear to be operative from both the infant and maternal
directions, mediated by skin-to-skin (or fur-to-fur) contact,
or perhaps by characteristic smells during early development.
I wonder about them as some kind of interface layer, because
control of such variables seems to have one foot in the
physiological camp, as it were, and the other foot in the
camp of social affiliation.
...

Second correction:
...
There is an implication of this proposal, which must be kept
in mind. If Attachment Variables operate as the highest
(i.e., 12th) level of the HPCT hierarchy, for stability�s sake
they must operate relatively slowly. As new layers of control
are constructed and inserted beneath them, control of
attachment variables must continually be slower than whatever
new layers emerge, or the overall system becomes unstable.
One cannot (successfully) call for results faster than they
can be produced.
...

Sorry for any confusion.
Erling

[From Dag Forssell (2007.11.11 0730 PST)]

Erling,

I very much enjoyed reading your post. Well thought through as usual!

Though I won't claim that I grasp it, I sense that your reasoning will merit some follow up.

Your first post came through with typographer's quotes transformed into funny characters, which makes your post hard to read.

An example: Successful attachment variable control could mean
“you’re in the right vicinity,�? or “you’re going in the right
direction,�? which amounts to saying “keep doing (whatever is
underway).�?

Your first correction seems to have been complete, while I cannot find the second. Your correction does not feature typographers quotes, so is much easier to read.

I would suggest you save the whole post as pure text, then email it again.

I'll then delete the first two from the archive record.

Best, Dag

···

At 07:46 PM 11/10/2007, you wrote:

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2235 EST)]

In the post I just sent, I notice what appear to be
a couple of transmission errors, in how a couple of the
paragraphs came out. In each case, it seems a portion
of a sentence or two did not come through correctly.

The corrected paragraphs appear below, one occuring
about halfway through the post, & the other closer to
the end. (In the original post, the paragraphs are
indicated by the margins being out of kilter.)

First correction:
...
There is evidence, from neurophysiological research with
different �animal models,� that neuroendocrine substrates such
as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids are implicated
in what appear to be social forms of bonding. Such substances
appear to be operative from both the infant and maternal
directions, mediated by skin-to-skin (or fur-to-fur) contact,
or perhaps by characteristic smells during early development.
I wonder about them as some kind of interface layer, because
control of such variables seems to have one foot in the
physiological camp, as it were, and the other foot in the
camp of social affiliation.
...

Second correction:
...
There is an implication of this proposal, which must be kept
in mind. If Attachment Variables operate as the highest
(i.e., 12th) level of the HPCT hierarchy, for stability�s sake
they must operate relatively slowly. As new layers of control
are constructed and inserted beneath them, control of
attachment variables must continually be slower than whatever
new layers emerge, or the overall system becomes unstable.
One cannot (successfully) call for results faster than they
can be produced.
...

Sorry for any confusion.
Erling

The first idea to note is that a
system concept is a highly

abstracted form of constructed perception. It is thus a late

addition, to my way of thinking, to a developing hierarchy of

perceptual control.
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.11.0845 MDT)]

Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2140 EST) –

That’s why I put it on top.

The second idea to
note is that system concepts are not the

true top of a HPCT hierarchy. The neurologically constructed

perceptions, however many there may be at a given stage of

development, exist within a context of what Powers calls

Intrinsic Variables necessary for life.

I’ve been arguing for years that the reorganizing system is NOT the top
level in the hierarchy because it is not in the hierarchy. It has equal
direct access to all levels of organization in the brain, but it knows
nothing about what goes on in the brain. It perceives only intrinsic
variables, which are measures of the state of the life support systems
(and other information obtainable by inheritable means). It simply keeps
altering the hierarchy blindly until those intrinsic variables are
brought, indirectly, close to their inherited reference
conditions.

Those
intrinsic

variables are the raison d’etre for the rest of the hierarchy

coming into being, and being shaped accordingly. “Shapedâ€? is

not exactly the right word here, because the intrinsic level

operates with a surprisingly tolerant Reorganization process

as its method of control. The random-search quality of

Reorganization means that any number of possible arrangements

of lower level controlled perceptions might succeed in providing

control of the intrinsic variables.

Yes, so the reorganizing system doesn’t know or care what organization of
perception or control appears in the hierarchy.

From a
developmental perspective, layers of control arise

because they more efficiently allow for more successful control

of the crucial physiological variables. As such, they become

inserted between the intrinsic domain of control – which

maintains cellular and other systemic requirements at their

proper amounts – and the more rudimentary (read: lower or more

peripheral) types of perceptual control.

That “insertion” is one of the problems with considering the
reorganizing system to be at the top of the hierarchy. That means either
that the neurons it occupies must continually be relocated (which I don’t
think happens), or the organization of those neurons must be copied into
a more rostral part of the brain to let the new level of control use the
neurons thus vacated. Either way seems unlikely.

Other problems are that the perceptions of the reorganizing system are
not formed from the next lower level of perception, as is proposed for
every other system in the hierarchy, nor does the reorganizing system act
by adjusting the reference levels of the next lower order of control. So
its relation to the hierarchy is not the relation of one hierarchical
system to another.

I do believe,
however, that within the proposal known as

Hierarchical Perceptual Control, there is room for a better

interface between the intrinsic domain and whatever lower

levels exist at a given point in development. I would call

this interface layer Attachment Variables.

I’m not going to comment on the rest of this, because you haven’t
convinced me of the main premise, that the reorganizing system is the
highest level in the hierarchy. If that isn’t granted, none of the rest
follows. Your reorganizing system has produced a set of creative
possibilities, but before you put them in the store window, you have to
do the second part of the creative act, which is to try to be the first
to show what is wrong with them.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.11 1420 EST)]

Dag Forssell (2007.11.11 0730 PST)

Your first post came through with typographer's
quotes transformed into funny characters, which makes
your post hard to read.

...

I would suggest you save the whole post as pure text, then email it again.

I'll then delete the first two from the archive record.

Here's the entire original post, which I have attempted to copy & paste
as a pure text document. To me, it looks as if it's formatting right.
Let me know if strange markings are creeping into it in transit. Thanks.

Erling

Proposal for a 12th HPCT Level

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2140 EST)]

Some of the recent discussions about the System Concept level of
the HPCT hierarchy, and a possible 12th level, led me to try to
compile some ideas I have been having. I hope they may become
clear within a broadly-stated developmental approach.

The first idea to note is that a system concept is a highly
abstracted form of constructed perception. It is thus a late
addition, to my way of thinking, to a developing hierarchy of
perceptual control.

The second idea to note is that system concepts are not the
true top of a HPCT hierarchy. The neurologically constructed
perceptions, however many there may be at a given stage of
development, exist within a context of what Powers calls
Intrinsic Variables necessary for life. Those intrinsic
variables are the raison d�etre for the rest of the hierarchy
coming into being, and being shaped accordingly. �Shaped� is
not exactly the right word here, because the intrinsic level
operates with a surprisingly tolerant Reorganization process
as its method of control. The random-search quality of
Reorganization means that any number of possible arrangements
of lower level controlled perceptions might succeed in providing
control of the intrinsic variables.

from a developmental perspective, layers of control arise
because they more efficiently allow for more successful control
of the crucial physiological variables. As such, they become
inserted between the intrinsic domain of control -- which
maintains cellular and other systemic requirements at their
proper amounts -- and the more rudimentary (read: lower or more
peripheral) types of perceptual control.

At every stage in development, it is an insertion of a new type
of perceptual control, on top of the stack of (non-intrinsic)
perceptual control existing to that point. The reason for such
an insertion would be more efficient mediation, between a
developing perceptual hierarchy and the higher (or deeper)
intrinsic domain dealing with physiological variables essential
to the whole system.

For example, a human neonate has certain rudimentary perceptions
capable of being controlled. They likely include things like
intensities (e.g., warmth), sensations (e.g., sound frequencies),
configurations (e.g., crying), transitions (e.g., turning one�s
head). They likely do not yet include abstract notions such as
�family.� A neonate also has, from the beginning, intrinsic
needs for oxygen, intercellular calcium, blood sugars, and a
host of other physiological variables essential for life.

By controlling some of its rudimentary perceptions -- such as
crying(!), at certain frequencies(!), loudly(!) -- it can
disturb an unknown entity it will later call �mother� into
supplying some of those intrinsic needs. In this way, it
effectively expands its own feedback path far beyond the limited
proficiency of its own behavioral repertoire.

As it develops and become more proficient, it will learn
to control (i.e., insert on top of its stack of controlled
perceptions) such new perceptions as �proximity-to-mother,�
as a way to better ensure the provision of those intrinsic
variables. Part of its later development will eventually
include learning to perceive, and then control, such system
concepts as �how-a-family-operates.� Those layers do not exist
from the beginning. They get constructed and inserted as the
child develops.

I do believe, however, that within the proposal known as
Hierarchical Perceptual Control, there is room for a better
interface between the intrinsic domain and whatever lower
levels exist at a given point in development. I would call
this interface layer Attachment Variables.

There is evidence, from neurophysiological research with
different �animal models,� that neuroendocrine substrates such
as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids are implicated
in what appear to be social forms of bonding. Such substances
appear to be operative from both the infant and maternal
directions, mediated by skin-to-skin (or fur-to-fur) contact,
or perhaps by characteristic smells during early development.
I wonder about them as some kind of interface layer, because
control of such variables seems to have one foot in the
physiological camp, as it were, and the other foot in the
camp of social affiliation.

I am not sure these substances have the same status as the
chemical nutrients essential for life. But I believe they
may form a bridge, in social mammals, facilitating access to
the essential intrinsic variables, which in early stages of
development are provided (in part) by parental figures.

The mechanism here would seem to be a redistribution of the
infant�s multi-level output functions, partitioning them among
intra-organism behavioral components and environmental feedback
function components operating within a relatively stable
(i.e., parental) world. If some of the task of controlling
intrinsic variables can be �delegated,� so to speak, to the
more extensive control machinery of a parent, there is less
for the as-yet-undeveloped machinery of the infant to handle.

There is obviously no way for the infant to cognitively �know�
how to partition its feedback path into such components on the
output side of things. So if it occurs, it must be as an
offshoot of controlling a higher level variable, which I would
propose is an attachment variable. To increase the amounts of
its own attachment variables would seem to simultaneously
increase the attachment variables of the caretaker, leading to
a complicated but reliable feedback path serving the infant�s
needs. In this way, the parent becomes part of the lower-level
means of attainment of the infant�s higher-level intrinsic needs.

from the infant�s side of things, attachment variables could
funnel its own lower level hierarchy of control toward
developing variables indirectly helpful for intrinsic control.
While a random E-coli reorganization process can indeed converge
successfully on a control arrangement that works, the presence
of attachment variables might constrain the search space to
arrangements with social utility. Again, the utility of such
social arrangements is that of expanding the feedback path,
to include the much more extensive competence of a parental
figure as the means for the infant to �meet its own needs.�
That could be a distinct advantage to animals with a fairly
vulnerable and dependent period during infancy.

Some of the benefit of controlling these relatively high level
attachment variables could be as a guide to the operation of
the lower level hierarchy. Attachment variables may provide
the �interim rationale� (read: reference signals) for the lower
level stack of control systems. Lower level perceptions which
succeed in increasing the amounts of attachment variables would
have a greater chance of having an indirect payoff in terms of
attaining intrinsic variables themselves. In other words,
control for the attachment variables and you may end up
successfully controlling for the intrinsic variables.

Because attachment variables, if they exist, are part of the
perceptual hierarchy itself (albeit at a high level), their
mechanism of action is different from that of the intrinsic
variables. Intrinsic control uses reorganization to achieve
its effects. Perceptual control uses reference signals. To
put it colloquially, successful intrinsic control means
�stop changing,� which amounts to saying �retain that ability.�
Perceptual control means �follow me, (whether I change or not).�
I believe attachment control is a bit of a hybrid between the
two. Successful attachment variable control could mean
�you�re in the right vicinity,� or �you�re going in the right
direction,� which amounts to saying �keep doing (whatever is
underway).�

There is an implication of this proposal, which must be kept
in mind. If Attachment Variables operate as the highest
(i.e., 12th) level of the HPCT hierarchy, for stability�s sake
they must operate relatively slowly. As new layers of control
are constructed and inserted beneath them, control of
attachment variables must continually be slower than whatever
new layers emerge, or the overall system becomes unstable.
One cannot (successfully) call for results faster than they
can be produced.

This implies relatively wide tolerances in how attachment
control systems operate. In other words, control of attachment
variables may function as a steady tendency or gentle press on
lower level references, but nothing immediately life-threatening
that requires high-gain action. This may explain how �failure
to thrive� in neglected infants -- thought to result in part
from lack of tactile stimulation -- arises as a gradual wasting
away that indeed has an effect, but seemingly elicits no strong
disturbance-resistance.

The other implication of this proposal, and where this notion
first began, is that control of the attachment variables may
provide a (slowly operating) frame of reference for control of
one�s system concepts, once that level has emerged. Let me
suggest a possible example, albeit from adult development. In
grad school, I remember reading an article by Julian Rappaport
(who at least at the time was at Gary Cziko�s institution, the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). I found it very
insightful about potential mechanisms of change. The article
was �Narrative Studies, Personal Stories, and Identity
Transformation in the Mutual Help Context,� _The Journal of
Applied Behavioral Science, Vol.29, No. 2_, June 1993, pp.
239-256.

The heart of the article was conceptualizing self-help
organizations as �narrative communities,� constituted by
shared stories. He makes the case that �the way that a
mutual help organization provides members with an identity
is through the narrative it tells about the community of
membership, about how members change� (p. 247). He asserts,
�an alternative identity is provided,...those who become
embedded members do so by transforming their personal life
stories so as to conform to the community narrative� (p. 249).
What came to mind for me was the quite extensive change in
system concepts about the self, encountered for many in AA.
For instance, the formerly adamant assertions that �I don�t
have a drinking problem!� somehow turn into �Hi, I�m Bob,
and I�m an alcoholic.� What seems to make the difference is a
change of affiliations, embodied in a change of communities.

Perhaps this is just talking about different sub-layers of
system concepts. But I suspect there is a deeper affiliative
core, similar to what are thought of as attachment patterns.
Because they are slow-acting, one�s system concepts do not
change frequently or easily. But when they do, they often
take the form of conversions, annunciations, or transformative
events. Perhaps this notion of Attachment Variables, acting
as physiological-and-social hybrids bridging the Intrinsic
domain and the constructed Perceptual hierarchy, has something
to offer to the discussion.

All the best,
Erling

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.11 2030 EST)]

Bill Powers (2007.11.11.0845 MDT)

Hi Bill,

I think the difficulty in my earlier essay is coming from my
overstating the analogy of hierarchy, and thus misappropriating
features into the discussion that I do not mean to imply.

I've been arguing for years that the reorganizing
system is NOT the top level in the hierarchy
because it is not in the hierarchy. It has equal
direct access to all levels of organization in
the brain, ...

I agree that the reorganization system is not in the hierarchy,
per se. My difficulty arose in trying to appropriate some of
the notion of "higher," and thereby making it seem as though
the reorganization system -- which is the means for the
Intrinsic Variables to come under control -- is thus the
"top level." My language of "insertion" certainly compounded
that false impression.

What I meant to convey is that the Intrinsic Variables are the
_context and reason_ for the control systems of the Perceptual
Hierarchy to arise. It is in that sense that the Intrinsic
domain of control subsumes and subordinates the regular hierarchy
of HPCT.

Now, it clearly does not do this in the same way as each
relatively higher level within the hierarchy, by sending
reference specifications down into the next lower level.
It randomly alters parameters of control elsewhere in the
hierarchy, until it stumbles on a manner of control that
affects the Intrinsic Variables in the correct direction.
Then it slows, or temporarily stops, its tinkering. As
you note --

So its relation to the hierarchy is not
the relation of one hierarchical system to another.

And yet there is something super-ordinate about it. My mistake
was in trying to expand the vertical metaphor to capture that
aspect. From time to time, I try to invert the metaphor by
speaking of "deeper," but that doesn't get around the impression
of "one hierarchical system to another."

I actually think the Intrinsic domain "encompasses" the HPCT
hierarchy, not surrounding it from without, but permeating it
from within. The way I visualize the Intrinsic domain is
essentially cellular, not as a distinct region of the brain,
but as part of all areas of the brain. This puts it close to
and within every other type of perceptual control circuit.

That suggests a more plausible way, topographically, for it to
have "equal direct access to all levels of organization in
the brain," to use your words.

Now, as to my other problematic metaphor, that of "interface."
To propose Attachment Variables as an interface, per se,
obviously loses the notion we just agreed on, that Intrinsic
control through its reorganization system has "equal direct
access" to all the other levels. It decidedly does _not_ go
through a single layer, even if we could position Attachment
Variables at the top.

Again, the overriding principle I was trying to convey in my
essay was that _everything_ in the hierarchy serves the purposes
of Intrinsic control. It either does this "directly" (sic) --
by controlling variables that have as a side effect(!) intrinsic
variables being controlled -- or it does this "indirectly," by
not getting in the way. If regular hierarchic control impedes
the Intrinsic control, it gets reorganized away (or, I suppose,
eliminated by so-called Natural Selection). So it either has
to be helpful or benign, with regard to the intrinsic variables.

I think there is a case to be made for Attachment Variables
helping the rest of the hierarchy to do its job successfully.
That's why I think it may form the topmost layer of the
genuine Perceptual Hierarchy. It does not have a privileged
access to the Intrinsic domain, but it could have a facilitative
role to play in improving intrinsic control.

The mechanisms would be the ones I outlined in my essay.
Because of the potentially reciprocal control within both
parents and infants, of physiological attachment variables,
the environmental feedback path for the infant's control gets
expanded to include a parent's much more competent control
machinery.

In the process, the infant's developing forms of control get
funneled within its random search space toward control
arrangements having some social utility. Such arrangements
hold promise of having continuing benefit for individuals
growing up within groups of social mammals.

Now, what are the problems with Attachment Variables being a
topmost layer? One is raised by my image of "insertion."
I think what I actually meant, but did not convey well, is
that successive developmental levels of control become inserted
between a topmost Attachment level (present from an early
stage of development), and whatever lower levels have arisen
to date.

One difficulty could be the one you raise, of an existing
topmost level having to be continually "relocated" to more
rostral portions of the brain. I agree, such a process is
highly unlikely. But it could be avoided if the reference
signals from such a topmost layer are provided chemically,
instead of neurally through hardwire axons.

The notion has come up before on CSGNet that neurochemicals
or hormones can exert biasing effects on lower level references.
That is a perfectly acceptable way of providing a reference
signal. The side benefit is that such signals can be more
distributed throughout a system, having non-local effects.
There is still a way to specialize the effects, in terms of
receptor molecules. But there need not be an actual neuron-
to-neuron connection. Withous such "wiring" requirements,
the problem of insertion and any need for relocation, I think,
is avoided.

Another potential problem, and one I think I addressed in the
essay, is that of speed of operation. For stability's sake,
higher levels in any hierarchy cannot operate (or call for
results) faster than lower levels can produce them.

If a high level arises, in a system where several yet-to-be
lower levels might arise, it has to have a built-in speed
slower than any of the potentially lower levels. That suggests
a very slow graded mode of operation.

One effect I believe this would have is on its intesity of
operation. In the way we model PCT output functions, there is
a somewhat inverse (is that the right word?) relation between
the slowing factor and the gain. Even with a high gain, a
very slow slowing factor means the output does not accumulate
(or integrate) very fast.

What I think this means for the output of Attachment Variables,
providing a reference bias to lower levels, is "a gentle press"
to their reference functions. In other words, it tends to
"favor" lower level control which also leads toward Attachment
control.

So then, body 'configuration' control systems such as grasping
(e.g., the fur of the mother) become favored in their
development, because they facilitate ventral-to-ventral body
contact and thus physiological Attachment Variables. So too,
'relationship' systems controlling proximity-to-mother become
favored. Behavioral 'events' such as dogs nipping the nuzzle of
one another become favored, as do the 'program' control systems
of rough-and-tumble play. Eventually, at least in humans,
there is a favoring of 'system concepts' conducive toward
family interactions.

Now, the gentle press from the Attachment level in any such
lower levels means that many forms of control arise which have
no appreciable effect on Attachment variables. But there is
a slight biasing toward those that do.

To again shift to a colloquial manner of presentation, this
is like a chemical equivalent of "encouragement." In my
original post, I alluded to it as a message saying in effect
"you're going in the right direction." The question can be
raised, is this needed? The standard operation of all control
systems is simply to control -- i.e., bring the perceptual
signal to or toward the reference specification -- without any
additional need for encouragement signals to keep the process
going.

And I agree, Attachment control, even if proceeding slowly, has
no further need for such signals. But because controlled
Attachment may have a payoff in terms of more successful
control of Intrinsic variables, I believe such chemical signals
may help to bias the search space, funneling lower level
development toward systems with favorable side effects for
Intrinsic control.

This last argument is, I think, the weakest of what I am
presenting. But between my original essay, as corrected by
this post, I think there may be room to consider a hierarchical
layer _postioned above but arising earlier_ than that of System
Concepts. I'd provisionally call it that of Attachment
Variables, and I'd like to know if others think the notion
has merit. (Oh, and I'd also like to know where others think
the concept still has problems.) Thanks in advance.

All the best,
Erling

Re: Proposal for a 12th HPCT
Level
[Martin Taylor 2007.11.11.23.29]

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.11 2030
EST)]

Bill Powers (2007.11.11.0845 MDT)

Hi Bill,

I think the difficulty in my earlier essay is coming from my

overstating the analogy of hierarchy, and thus misappropriating

features into the discussion that I do not mean to imply.

I’ve been arguing for years that the reorganizing

system is NOT the top level in the hierarchy

because it is not in the hierarchy. It has equal

direct access to all levels of organization in

the brain, …

I agree that the reorganization system is not in the hierarchy,

per se. My difficulty arose in trying to appropriate some of

the notion of “higher,” and thereby making it seem as
though

the reorganization system – which is the means for the

Intrinsic Variables to come under control – is thus the
“top level.”

So its relation to the hierarchy is not

the relation of one hierarchical system to another.

And yet there is something super-ordinate about it. My
mistake

was in trying to expand the vertical metaphor to capture that

aspect. From time to time, I try to invert the metaphor by

speaking of “deeper,” but that doesn’t get around the
impression

of “one hierarchical system to another.”

I actually think the Intrinsic domain “encompasses” the
HPCT

hierarchy, not surrounding it from without, but permeating it

from within. The way I visualize the Intrinsic domain is

essentially cellular, not as a distinct region of the brain,

but as part of all areas of the brain. This puts it close to

and within every other type of perceptual control circuit.

That suggests a more plausible way, topographically, for it to

have “equal direct access to all levels of organization
in
the brain,” to use your words.

Does this diagram help (from
http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/Mutuality/intrinsic.html)

Martin

intrinsic.1.gif

What I meant to convey is that
the Intrinsic Variables are the

context and reason for the control systems of the Perceptual

Hierarchy to arise. It is in that sense that the Intrinsic

domain of control subsumes and subordinates the regular hierarchy

of HPCT.
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.12.0926 MDT)]

Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.11 2030 EST) –

I’m not willing to go that far. You will probably think that I’m just
dragging my feet, but the fact is that I shy away from any reductionist
assumptions. Whatever conclusions I may one day reach concerning the
Underlying Rationale of Everything, I want to feel forced into them, with
no visible alternatives. Nothing that compelling has come along yet, and
I’m content just to go on saying “I don’t know.”

I actually think
the Intrinsic domain “encompasses” the HPCT

hierarchy, not surrounding it from without, but permeating it

from within. The way I visualize the Intrinsic domain is

essentially cellular, not as a distinct region of the brain,

but as part of all areas of the brain. This puts it close to

and within every other type of perceptual control circuit.

To me, that’s like saying the Buildings and Grounds department is the
part of a university that encompasses and permeates everything else in
it. The reorganizing system, as I see it, is (like a janitorial service)
organized to maintain the life support systems, and beyond that to
optimize whatever control processes are developed (the latter being an
addition that comes along with MOL). But is it the only influence on the
shape that the hierarchy takes during development and learning? I have no
reason to think so. Awareness, whatever that is, certainly has a lot to
say in steering reorganization to work in this part of the system
rather than that. Interactions with That Which Is determine what
actions will really work for controlling things. The nature of the links
between the external reality and Intrinsic Variables, as Martin Taylor
periodically points out, is one of the main ways in which our
reorganizations are made to take Real Reality into account.

I think there is a
case to be made for Attachment Variables

helping the rest of the hierarchy to do its job successfully.

That’s why I think it may form the topmost layer of the

genuine Perceptual Hierarchy. It does not have a privileged

access to the Intrinsic domain, but it could have a facilitative

role to play in improving intrinsic control.
The mechanisms would be the ones
I outlined in my essay.

Because of the potentially reciprocal control within both

parents and infants, of physiological attachment variables,

the environmental feedback path for the infant’s control gets

expanded to include a parent’s much more competent control

machinery.

In the process, the infant’s developing forms of control get

funneled within its random search space toward control

arrangements having some social utility. Such arrangements

hold promise of having continuing benefit for individuals

growing up within groups of social mammals.

I just can’t accept the extreme conceptual jump from biochemicals vaguely
“implicated” in certain kinds of behavior to any details of
behavioral organization. Biochemistry is part of the “how” of
behavior, not the “why.” When the hierarchy acts or
reorganizes, one of the consequences is that the details of biochemistry
change. A biochemist who believes that everything in an organism is just
a big chemical reaction might insist that the changes in behavioral
organization are initiated by changes in biochemistry, but if there’s
anything I think I know, it’s that no lineal causation exists in an
organism: everything is in loops. The only way to understand what any
component of a living system does is to understand the whole system, or
at least the whole loop.

But why is social utility good? I don’t mean that as a skeptical
question, but as an up-a-level question. Why IS it good, if it is? What
does it accomplish for the organism to develop social skills? I don’t
think the answer is “in order to balance the concentration of
L-dopa”, or whatever the ultimate underlying biochemical explanation
is supposed to be. A real answer will tell us something about the next
level up. That’s what I’m waiting for.

The notion has come
up before on CSGNet that neurochemicals

or hormones can exert biasing effects on lower level references.

That is a perfectly acceptable way of providing a reference

signal.

Yes it is, but it also raises the question of what agency is varying the
concentrations of the neurochemicals or the hormones, and as near as I
can see, the answer to that question is “higher-level processes in
the brain.” You can’t stop in the middle of a loop and claim you
have uncovered a causal influence. Neurochemical and hormone
concentrations are varied by neural activity as well as influencing
neural activity, so once again we have loops, and we can’t understand
them without analyzing the complete loop. These are not independent
variables you’re talking about.

I think you need to examine further the idea that “attachment”
is something other than what is to be found in the existing hierarchy at
one or more levels. What is important about attachment, anyway? Isn’t it
a kind of relationship? The word doesn’t have the deep significance for
me that it seems to have for you; maybe that’s what you should talk
about. I know you have been talking about it, but I mean trying to show
why it’s so important.

Best (wet blanket west of the Mississippi),

Bill P.

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.12 2245 EDT)]

Bill Powers (2007.11.12.0926 MDT)

Bill, I appreciate your strong prods on this. Allow me to
push back on some of the questions you raise.

You say �

But why is social utility good? I don't mean that as a
skeptical question, but as an up-a-level question. Why IS
it good, if it is?

The main answer is: because controlling for certain
variables, which also have a social component, ends up
indirectly helping to supply intrinsic variables. (The
secondary answer is: it at least does not get in the way
of supplying intrinsic variables.) Certainly one
definition of �good� is with respect to the life support
systems, isn�t it?

What does it accomplish for the organism to develop social
skills?

To say �develop social skills� leaves the impression of an
add-on nicety at a later stage of development. I would
allow social skills to be quite a broad concept, including
such things as (for a primate) clinging to the underbelly
of one�s mother by means of hand grasping & controlling
muscle force. What it accomplishes is to keep the infant
primate close to its mother�s nipple, which �- through a
more extended loop involving suckling events, & digestive
control, & blood system transport -- then has an effect on
its intrinsic variables.

I don't think the answer is "in order to balance the
concentration of L-dopa", or whatever the ultimate
underlying biochemical explanation is supposed to be.

But you do allow some of the �why� to be concentrations
of blood sugars & calcium & other essential nutrients.
Of course the loops do not stop there. It�s the cellular
machinery that does not operate without some of these
nutrients. And why is that, you ask? Because that is the
way the world is structured. At some point you simply say
-- it would not function otherwise. There are certain
necessary conditions, & without them you do not get this
particular organism doing anything, except recycling its
chemicals as food for other organisms.

A real answer will tell us something about the next level
up. That's what I'm waiting for.

But I�m trying to say something about a potential _topmost_
layer! I grant you that Intrinsic control is not a higher
level in a hierarchical sense. But surely the next available
purpose, after the topmost level (whatever it turns out to
be), would be successful (or at least unimpeded) Intrinsic
control. There are only so many places you can look, for
the �why� of the highest level.

Again, I grant you that not all control systems actually
serve Intrinsic control. It is enough to be neutral or
benign, & not get in the way (so as not to be reorganized
away.) In those instances, yes, the answer is: because
it just happened to turn out that way, & there was no reason
to change it.

This dual proviso of being either helpful or benign for
Intrinsic control is meant as a starting assumption for
development, not an ultimate statement for everything that
exists in living organisms. If you really want to get to
the �why� of it all, I think we�d have to look for the
necessity that keeps generating negative feedback control
arrangements, & seemingly putting them into hierarchical
forms of organization (unless that part is simply a modeling
convention that makes the processes *almost* simple enough
for us to understand.)

My starting assumption certainly appears to be implicit in
your notion of Reorganization, with its mechanism of random
generation (of functions, parameters, etc., though not
�signals� per se), & selective retention of what works for
reducing Intrinsic error. I do like your analogy for
reorganization -�

The reorganizing system, as I see it, is (like a janitorial
service) organized to maintain the life support systems,
and beyond that to optimize whatever control processes are
developed...

There is arguably a sense in which �life support� is a
context for whatever else happens for the organism. I
think the difference between our formulations on this score
may be one of emphasis. I am pointing out the (few) control
systems that facilitate the control of Intrinsic variables.
You are pointing out the many, many others that are
indifferent on that score. I am hoping to convince you
that something akin to Attachment control inserts a useful
biasing into the developmental process. Necessary? No.
But present in mammals that develop social bonds? Maybe.

You say �-

I just can't accept the extreme conceptual jump from
biochemicals vaguely "implicated" in certain kinds of
behavior to any details of behavioral organization.
Biochemistry is part of the "how" of behavior, not the
"why."

But you don�t insist on such a strict demarcation when it
comes to Intrinsic error. Biochemistry is implicated in
both. To borrow the hierarchical language, moving downward
is the �how� & moving upward is the �why.� I realize an
error signal, intrinsic or not, is just one point on a
closed loop of causality. (I wrote a whole essay on
Causality, which I think is housed on the PCT website,
remember?) It is not a final (or lineal!) cause. But
every point on the loop is a circular cause of everything
else on the loop, including itself. And when it comes to
the chemical Intrinsic variables, the output of those
control systems certainly can have effects on the �details
of behavioral (sic) organization.�

With regard to the biochemicals of so-called Attachment,
I believe this is one point where we are (so far) speaking
past one another. I have deliberately left the language
of attachment and social bonds vague, using words like
�implicated,� because it remains to be seen whether my
suspicions about an additional layer can be supported, &
I admittedly do not know the biochemical details very well.

But I have deliberately avoided language suggesting that
chemicals like oxytocin, etc., �feel good� & thus are
controlled for. They only reason I have suggested for why
they might be controlled at a high level in the hierarchy
is that they might have a facilitative effect (through
their slow, graded reference signals) on control systems
arising that also have a useful effect on Intrinsic control.

I am basically trying to carve out space for a potential
12th layer, by setting forth what some of its requirements
might have to be, if it is posited that it develops at an
early stage before several of the lower levels of control
arise. If I convince you that it does not violate
plausibility, nor key existing properties of your proposed
model, nor engage in too much hand-waving & presto-shazam,
then I hope we can return to the predictions (?) I am
essentially making about speed & intensity of operation,
biochemical references to lower levels, and the like.

In responding to my reminder that neurochemical reference
signals is a perfectly acceptable arrangement, you say --

Yes it is, but it also raises the question of what agency
is varying the concentrations of the neurochemicals or the
hormones, and as near as I can see, the answer to that
question is "higher-level processes in the brain." You can't
stop in the middle of a loop and claim you have uncovered
a causal influence.

I have rarely been accused of stopping in the middle of a
loop. I believe my tendency with analysis is to go on way
too long...

The context of my raising neurochemical reference signals
was in moving _down_ from a hypothesized 12th level of
control. It was in answer to the critique that developing
such a layer early-on, & then inserting other layers of
control below it, would lead to needing to �relocate� such
a layer to more & more rostral portions of the brain. I
responded that hormonal & neurochemical outputs could have
effects at a distance, & not have to be hard-wired to nearby
neurons. Thus, they could have a similar non-local effect
on each lower level as it developed. (A potential problem
is that its effects would not necessarily cease at a lower
level, even though a slightly higher level had developed in
the meantime. That would modify the assumption of a strict
hierarchy, with effects occurring only at the next
immediately lower level. I don�t believe violating that
parsimony would be a deal-breaker, but it would have to
be considered.)

But back to the question of moving _up_ from such a 12th
layer, to �what agency is varying the concentrations of
the neurochemicals or the hormones.� At the point of the
reference to a 12th layer, I am not sure we need to think
of �varying� the references. As with Intrinsic variables,
I believe we could consider _inherited_ preferences for
physiological Attachment variables. Such a move to
genetics does provide the rudiments of answering the
question of �higher-level processes,� although it obviously
does not trace the loop in detail (anymore than your appeal
to the same interim answer for the Intrinsic references).

I have left your key question for last �-

What is important about attachment, anyway? Isn't it a
kind of relationship? The word doesn't have the deep
significance for me that it seems to have for you; maybe
that's what you should talk about.

First off, I agree that it is plausible that so-called
�Attachment� (and I am not even sure how to define it)
could be part of one or more of the existing layers of
the HPCT hierarchy. Perhaps because of my current work
as a therapist, or my Lutheran & Christian system concepts,
there is this hunch or suspicion that it may serve a deeper
role (deeper being my word for higher).

The process leading to these essays began for me with
contemplating the question, �Yes, where could the reference
specifications for System Concepts come from?�

I believe various answers have appeared from time to time
on CSGNet, (with apologies to various parties for the
obvious oversimplifications) �-

1) I don�t know. (Powers)

2) Accessing from memory a previously constructed &
perceived system concept, & utilizing it as a reference
on subsequent occasions. (also Powers)

3) Whatever random reference-function parameters for a
system concept succeed in correcting Intrinsic Error, &
thus slowing the Reorganization process. (also Powers)

4) A random (?) slowly-changing signal, pushing one
forward toward (self-defined) self actualization. (I
think this is akin to something Marken once offered)

5) A spiritual level, seemingly open to influence from
a Divine Spirit, operating as a 12th layer of the perceptual
hierarchy. (Kitzke)

6) The earliest neurons that appear in the developing
embryo. (Simonson)

7) A layer of Attachment Variable control systems,
arising early in development, & functioning as a 12th
layer of the perceptual hierarchy. (Jorgensen, in this
recent exchange of posts)

8) Probably some other speculations raised by others
that elude me at the moment.

Part of my suspicion is that we are more formed than we
would like to believe by key Others in our lives. And as
I read the evidence, this begins way sooner than we are
cognitively aware of it. I think there is a key role
played by validation & invalidation, on many of the forms
of control that we develop. But if it begins early, it
would have to have a means of operation that was not
dependent on a high-level perception such as �validation,�
which an infant would not yet have.

For the same reason, much of its effect would have to be
organizational, involving the structure itself of the
developing control systems, but not be dependent on a
form of �learning� only suitable to a later stage. The
reorganization system, however blindly it operates, is a
pretty broad concept in its potential effects. But you
are right, that �life support� is not the only game in
town. That just forms the outer constraints for acceptable
control, with wide latitude for whatever else is within
those bounds.

So I began looking for other plausible candidates, that
could effect a shaping influence on developing forms of
control, without taking over the process in terms of some
kind of pre-set design.

The closest candidate was this blind hybrid of physiological
mechanisms on the one hand, and semi-social effects on the
other, that just maybe could have the right side-effect
results on a wide spectrum of developing control systems.
Because of heuristic research in the neurophysiological
literature, I chose to call such a proposed level Attachment
Variables.

The only hand-waving is �let�s look over here.� It may be
a leap to begin the process, but it is only retained if
all the in-between steps hold. I fully expect that any
provisional formulations should be rigorously examined.
By the way, you rarely disappoint me, in that regard.

All the best,
Erling

[Martin Taylor 2007.11.12.23.40]

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.12 2245 EDT)]

Erling,

I have enjoyed reading your messages on this thread, but I have a problem with the approach. It seems to start from a premise that the principles and methods of PCT apply only to humans. But if PCT means anything, it applies to all living things. The specific structures are probably different in different species, but evolution is, in other ways, extraordinarily conservative, and I would expect it to be so in the ways PCT is deployed. At least I would imagine that the basic forms would be alike in all mammals, and probably in all vertebrates. When I read aboput "Attachment", I think of the hundreds of little fish that are born from parents who never see them. When I think of the benefits of social skills, I think of leopards, or even orang-utangs, who tend to shy away from contacts with others of their species.

The issue isn't whether I'm right to be sceptical or even whether I'm right about the behaviour of these species, but whether things you take to be primary mechanisms are likely to be the same in other forms of life. If they are basic mechanisms, one would expect them to be true in general, and not to be specific to humans.

How reorganization works, whether in an individual or over evolutionary time scales, is unknown. That it works is clear. If it works in a human individual by growing and pruning and modifying neural connections, it probably works that way in other species, at least those with a brain consisting of networked neurons. Not only that, but it is at least as as plausible to suppose that new control elements that control functions of lower-level controlled perceptions could be added to an existing structure as to suppose that new control units could be inserted into the middle of an existing structure in support of some magically (evolutionarily developed) existing requirement for control of something as complex as a System Concept.

All in all, I prefer the simple Powers model of reorganization as a proposal for building a structure of increasingly complex hierarchic levels to one that works top-down to create a structure that eventually succeeds in controlling some predetermined variable. Powers's "intrinsic variables" are not controlled in the ordinary sense; they are controlled as the side effects of controlling other variablew that are logically unrelated but in the real environment related to the intrinsic variables. (Example: going to work to get a paycheck is logically unrelated to the level of blood sugar, but in the real world, the paycheck can be turned into food, the ingestion of which does affect blood sugar even though the proximal controlled perception is of a level of hunger with a reference value near zero).

Sorry to butt in.

(No I'm not :slight_smile:

Martin

The main answer is:
because controlling for certain

variables, which also have a social component, ends up

indirectly helping to supply intrinsic variables.
Certainly one definition of
“good” is with respect to the life support

systems, isn’t it?
To say “develop social skills”
leaves the impression of an

add-on nicety at a later stage of development.
I would allow social skills to
be quite a broad concept, including

such things as (for a primate) clinging to the underbelly

of one’s mother by means of hand grasping & controlling

muscle force. What it accomplishes is to keep the infant

primate close to its mother’s nipple, which ­- through a

more extended loop involving suckling events, & digestive

control, & blood system transport – then has an effect on

its intrinsic variables.

I don’t think the answer is
"in order to balance the

concentration of L-dopa", or whatever the ultimate

underlying biochemical explanation is supposed to be.

But you do allow some of the “why” to be concentrations

of blood sugars & calcium & other essential
nutrients.
Of course the loops do not stop
there. It’s the cellular

machinery that does not operate without some of these

nutrients. And why is that, you ask? Because that is the

way the world is structured. At some point you simply say

– it would not function otherwise. There are certain

necessary conditions, & without them you do not get this

particular organism doing anything, except recycling its

chemicals as food for other organisms.

A real answer will tell us
something about the next level

up. That’s what I’m waiting for.

But I’m trying to say something about a potential topmost

layer!
I am basically trying to carve
out space for a potential

12th layer, by setting forth what some of its requirements

might have to be, if it is posited that it develops at an

early stage before several of the lower levels of control

arise.
Perhaps because of my current
work

as a therapist, or my Lutheran & Christian system concepts,

there is this hunch or suspicion that it may serve a deeper

role (deeper being my word for higher).
The process leading to these
essays began for me with

contemplating the question, “Yes, where could the reference

specifications for System Concepts come from?”
I believe various answers have
appeared from time to time

on CSGNet, (with apologies to various parties for the

obvious oversimplifications) ­-

  1.  I don’t know. 
    

(Powers)

  1.  Accessing from
    

memory a previously constructed &

perceived system concept, & utilizing it as a reference

on subsequent occasions. (also Powers)

  1.  Whatever random
    

reference-function parameters for a

system concept succeed in correcting Intrinsic Error, &

thus slowing the Reorganization process. (also Powers)

  1.  A random (?)
    

slowly-changing signal, pushing one

forward toward (self-defined) self actualization. (I

think this is akin to something Marken once offered)

  1.  A spiritual level,
    

seemingly open to influence from

a Divine Spirit, operating as a 12th layer of the perceptual

hierarchy. (Kitzke)

  1.  The earliest neurons
    

that appear in the developing

embryo. (Simonson)

  1.  A layer of
    

Attachment Variable control systems,

arising early in development, & functioning as a 12th

layer of the perceptual hierarchy. (Jorgensen, in this

recent exchange of posts)

  1.  Probably some other
    

speculations raised by others

that elude me at the moment.
Part of my suspicion is that we
are more formed than we

would like to believe by key Others in our lives.
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.13.0131 MDT)]
Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.12 2245 EDT) –
But isn’t that exactly why we should expect reorganization to create
control systems that control for such variables? Remember that I think of
“social” variables as simply another form of principles and
system concepts, the ones that have to do with organizations made of
independent control systems such as people.
Not as far as the reorganizing system is concerned (it doesn’t define
things: the systems it builds do). Good is simply whatever reference
conditions you most earnestly seek. I don’t think there is any point in
looking for some universal, fixed, absolute kind of good, because all
that does is generate arguments with people who seek different universal,
fixed, absolute kinds of good. That leads to religious wars when people
try to suppress the evils that other people think are good, something the
human race has been particularly ineffective at doing since the losers
always want to turn around and become the winners. This is going to go on
as long as people think their good is inherently better than someone
else’s good, and think that belief is just as valid as
knowledge.
Yes, that’s pretty much what I think, just as I think that principles are
an add-on (as are all the other levels).
That doesn’t sound very social to me. I think of social skills as control
of social perceptions, not just control of variables that happen,
unbeknownst to the controller, to affect physical relationships among
bodies.
But the relationship between blood sugar and staying alive does not
involve leaping any conceptual gaps, whereas the relationship between
L-dopa and anything of organizational nature is a wild guess.

I have deliberately left the definition of intrinsic variables open, with
the possibility of inheriting even such intrinsic reference levels as
what constitutes a beautiful face. To support the basic theory of
reoganization, all we need is to posit some set of intrinsic variables.
What you’re doing is making some very specific conjectures about what
those variables are, without any evidence beyond the undisciplined
imaginings of biochemists. Go ahead, but include me out.
Unfortunately, you have your topmost layer existing before there are any
layers under it from which it might develop. It almost looks as if you’re
trying to find a top-down process that will guide the development of the
rest toward some ultimate higher goal – which in fact you admit that
you’re trying to do:

Isn’t this the real problem here? You and I are seeking different goals.
I want to know how the system is organized, trying not to prejudge any
answers we may find. You want it to come out in support of facts you have
decided to believe in, and are looking for assumptions that will lead to
the answers you already believe are correct. That puts us in different
universes of discourse. I’m willing to consider any spooky ideas you want
to dream up, but I’m not willing to believe them without pretty solid
evidence. So far I haven’t seen any evidence at all that points in the
direction you seem to want to go.
As long as we have to put it that way – where could they come
from – I’m not willing to give any credence to possible answers, my own
guesses or anyone else’s. I want to know where they do, in all
likelihood, come from. Anyone can come up with ideas about possibilities.
But among the possibilities we dream up, which ones are the
probable candidates, the ones consistent with the bulk of the best
that we think we know about nature? I’ll make up conjectures along with
anyone else, but they don’t interest me all that much unless they grab me
and shake me. When that happens, I’ll at least give them a second look.
But I still won’t believe them just because they got me excited for a
minute.

Yeah, on and on, and nothing to really say This Is It – at least not to
say it to heathens.

And then we spend the rest of our lives trying to get over it if we wake
up in time. If you apply what you just said to beliefs of all kinds, I
contend that what you will discover is not a form of enlightenment, but a
form of bondage. What we are taught is not true just because someone
taught it to us. But the conditions of teaching are such that we fear not
to believe, and are reluctant to accept it when those we love prove to
have been deceived themselves and to have passed their own deception on
to us. What we can hope for is to understand how it could have happened,
and to see that no blame is attached. We can understand that the human
condition leads where it leads, and it is up to us to struggle to grasp
it. To know all is to forgive all, it has been said. To know all is
impossible, but at least is it possible not to prevent knowledge by
adopting beliefs in the attempt to leapfrog to a conclusion that is
desperately desired. Why so desperate? That is the real
question.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.13 1815 EDT)]

Martin Taylor 2007.11.12.23.40

Hi Martin,

I realize things are, shall we say �far from a consensus�, with the
ideas I am presenting. But I at least want to clear up what seem
like mis-readings of those ideas, so they can at least be evaluated
in their own light, & not through the filter of something I do not
mean to say.

I�m puzzled by your ascription that the approach I am exploring --

seems to start from a premise that the principles and methods of
PCT apply only to humans.

I have given various examples that might be true for primates,
and/or canines, as well as humans. I admit that it might be
something that is specialized for �social mammals.� And the
potential need for something specialized is not totally amiss,
seeing as �social� mammals may be controlling things in ways that
other species are not. That does not immediately demand a whole
new level, nor is that the weight of the argument I am making.

Yet even your counter-example --

leopards, or even orang-utangs, who tend to shy away from
contacts with others of their species

could just be a different reference for physiological variables of
odor that might still be termed �Attachment.� That word is just
a label for something controlled inside the organism that seems to
have key �social� ramifications. Remember, �staying away� is
essentially a negative valence to the same system that controls for
�drawing near.�

Is it because Systems Concepts (eventually) come into the picture,
that you think I�m proposing a mechanism that is �specific to
humans�? One thing that my speculative exercise has already opened
up to me is the realization that _if_ a higher level were developed
before lower levels came into being (admittedly a big if), its
output (i.e., references for lower levels) would have to be something
that could affect multiple types of lower levels, & not be
specialized to a single level.

So then, the output/reference coming out from a (yet-to-be-
demonstrated) Attachment control system, would definitely not be
saying the neural equivalent of �give me a specific System Concept.�
The reference template for System Concept perceptions would be the
same as whatever it turns out to be under �classic PCT +
Reorganization.� What an Attachment output might add to a System
Concept reference function would simply be a low-grade bias toward
a perception that would also satisfy Attachment control. It would
add the same bias toward Program control systems before System
Concepts even arose. An example might be chimpanzees looking for
insects to eat, not only in holes (using twigs as fishing lines),
but also on one another�s fur because of the social side benefits
of such �grooming behavior.� It would be the same bias toward
Relationship control systems before organized Programs even arose.
An example on that level would be maintaining �proximity� to a
source of milk. It would be the same bias toward hand Configuration
control before even knowing about spatial Relationships arose. The
example on that level that I used before would be �grasping,�
because it has the side benefit of getting a ride on the mother�s
underbelly & being close-at-hand (to more touch & to more nutrition)
when mother stops. Is grasping used for other things? Of course.
Is an extra biasing from a physiological Attachment system necessary
for grasping to even arise? Of course not.

What I am saying about Attachment is not to replace the
Reorganization mechanism. Nor is it uniquely tuned to certain
high-level & highly abstract types of perceptions that maybe only
humans have. I don�t think folks here would have nearly the
problem with all this, if we just said that control of oxytocin &
vasopressin, etc. were additional Intrinsic variables that get
controlled. That certainly is a possibility. I just don�t think
they have that clout, to turn on a Reorganization system to change
things anywhere in the hierarchy, the minute they are not in
sufficient supply. At best, I could imagine them as simply a
biasing factor, favoring control systems with certain side benefits.
And a neurochemical addition to lower level reference functions
might accomplish that.

You refer to my discussion here as �-

things you take to be primary mechanisms...

There is nothing �primary� about what I am raising for consideration.
My posts for years have demonstrated a pretty clear understanding of
�basic� PCT, �generally accepted� PCT, & �speculative explorations,�
to modify your taxonomy. In these recent posts, I have been very
careful not to violate essential properties of the PCT model, & to
point out places where I may be encroaching, so that we can look
carefully at the ramifications. At most, my proposal is an add-on
to the hierarchy, which only stays if it doesn�t do more damage to
the model than it is worth. We�ve had add-ons before (e.g., the
Sequence level), admittedly one arising in-order as development
proceeds from the bottom-up.

The only part that is radical here is the suggestion (and it�s
only an idea, folks) that there may be a fairly high level that
develops early. If it blasts the rest of the model�s properties
to smithereens, then we get rid of the idea.

All in all, I prefer the simple Powers model of reorganization
as a proposal for building a structure of increasingly complex
hierarchic levels...

So do I. It is a parsimonious model that covers a wide range of
living organisms (not just social mammals) in a very plausible way.
A number of its features or properties have been shown that they
can work, via simulations, at least as proofs-of-principle.

I believe the continuation of your sentence, quoted just above,
contains a misperception.

...to one that works top-down to create a structure that
eventually succeeds in controlling some predetermined variable.

As I said above, this notion of an Attachment level does not
�create a structure� at lower levels. Reorganization does.
Nor is it tied in, in some foreknowing way, to �some predetermined
variable.� There is no Designer within an attachment level that
says �give me system concepts,� or any other of the perceptions
that get constructed & �inserted� bottom-up, in developmental
sequence, somewhere below such a level. Sorry to keep putting
the cat among the pigeons with this notion of �insertion,� but
that�s what this exploration is about. It does not make everything
�top-down.� As I have described its hypothetical influence, it
is amazingly weak. Nor does it guarantee good outcomes for the
organism. I can envision some incredibly horrible system concepts,
that supposedly serve an attachment purpose. Just as I can envision
-� as I do in my work every day �- horribly abused children that
nonetheless stay in proximity to their abuser. The strength &
persistence of such control systems is due to Reorganization not
kicking back into gear, not �some magically (evolutionarily
developed) existing requirement� coming from an Attachment level,
(to use your words).

At any rate, I�m sure the conversation will continue.

All the best,
Erling

There is nothing “primary” about
what I am raising for consideration.

My posts for years have demonstrated a pretty clear understanding of

“basic” PCT, “generally accepted” PCT, & “speculative explorations,”

to modify your taxonomy. In these recent posts, I have been very

careful not to violate essential properties of the PCT model, & to

point out places where I may be encroaching, so that we can look

carefully at the ramifications. At most, my proposal is an add-on

to the hierarchy, which only stays if it doesn’t do more damage to

the model than it is worth. We’ve had add-ons before (e.g., the

Sequence level), admittedly one arising in-order as development

proceeds from the bottom-up.
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.13.1713 MDT)]

Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.13 1815 EDT) –

Fortunately, these remarks give me an opening to say something that would
have seemed condescending earlier – I was looking for some excuse. Yes,
you have always shown a very clear understanding of basic PCT and more,
and I have always admired your essays. You have plenty of capital left as
far as I am concerned, and I don’t want you to think that my dogged
disagreement with you here is going to be generalized to anything else. I
do disagree with your big insight about attachment, but that’s all it is,
a disagreement. Friends can disagree – ask Martin. He and I have
disagreed pretty sharply about some things, but every time we meet we
seem to be better friends than ever. Let it be so with you and
me.

The only part that
is radical here is the suggestion (and it’s

only an idea, folks) that there may be a fairly high level that

develops early. If it blasts the rest of the model’s properties

to smithereens, then we get rid of the idea.

It hasn’t done that yet, but each time you add to your descriptions of
this new level, it seems to be a weaker proposal. Right now it just sort
of biases things a little, statistically, without coming right out and
setting firm reference levels for lower systems and crisply controlling
whatever it controls, as all the systems at the other levels do. It
hardly seems to qualify as a competent level of control.

My impression is that you’re willing to back off your claims about this
new kind of control system as long as some essential aspect of it remains
intact. It’s that essential aspect that is the hangup here. I don’t want
to put words in your mouth, but you said this yourself:

Perhaps because of my current work

as a therapist, or my Lutheran & Christian system concepts,

there is this hunch or suspicion that it may serve a deeper

role (deeper being my word for higher).

Instead of hunch or suspicion, what about “hope or
belief?” I’m trying not to hit below the belt, but do we have to
totally avoid discussing what seems to be the most important reason for
introducing a way for higher (or deeper) levels to influence the
development of a human being, rather than leaving the whole thing to grow
itself from the bottom up? According to the model the way I have left it,
“good and evil” or “right and wrong” are simply
whatever the individual prefers, and that is a product of reorganization
and interaction with the environment (including the other people in it).
If development works as I have proposed, there is no higher guiding Power
seeing to it that we are given moral instruction or admonitions, or that
we are endowed with a conscience, or are in any way influenced by
universal principles of right and wrong.

Isn’t this a major split between PCT and most religions, including
Christianity? And doesn’t this have something to do with your
reasons for wanting to find a higher system that is there from the
beginning, exerting its benign influence from above on reorganization? If
you say that has nothing to do with it, I’ll accept your word because you
are about the last person on Earth I would suspect of lying or
concealment. But I have to bring it up, because it seems to me that this
is the background thought behind the proposed Attachment level. You’re
the only one who know whether that is true.

I have an olive branch – somewhat tattered – to offer in the form of my
thoughts about Awareness. But let’s get through this part first.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.15 0015 EDT)

Bill Powers (2007.11.13.0131 MDT)

Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.12 2245 EDT)

Continuing the conversation...

Certainly one definition of �good� is with respect
to the life support systems, isn�t it?

Not as far as the reorganizing system is
concerned (it doesn't define things: the systems
it builds do).

The reorganizing system does keep reorganizing as long
as Intrinsic errors are not reduced (presumably to points
below some minimum thresholds.) That suggests that
Intrinsic references are not yet "satisfied," so to
speak. Life support is treated as "good" for the system,
in the sense that disturbances to it are (indirectly)
resisted.

Good is simply whatever reference conditions you
most earnestly seek.

I agree that each functioning control system has that
built in definition of "good." If we generalize that to
some kind of common definition, it becomes "error
reduction is good."

I don't think there is any point in looking for some
universal, fixed, absolute kind of good, ...

The only universal one I would use is my immediately
preceding sentence. I was going to add the inverse,
above, & make the definition "error reduction is good,
and error increase is bad." But I don't necessarily
think the second part holds. In teaching, for example,
I think we do deliberately raise disturbances that do
increase error for the students, in the service of
seeing whether reorganization will go in a helpful
direction.

I would allow social skills to be quite a broad
concept, including such things as (for a primate)
clinging to the underbelly of one�s mother by means
of hand grasping & controlling muscle force. ...

That doesn't sound very social to me. I think of
social skills as control of social perceptions, ...

Well, you were the one that introduced the notion of
"skills," paraphrasing my phrase about *having some
social utility* as "developing social skills." If
hand-grasping maintains ventral-to-ventral contact,
& complements the other unknown entity's "maternal
behavior," that sounds pretty skillful for a barely-
aware chimp.

I have deliberately left the definition of
intrinsic variables open, ... To support
the basic theory of reoganization, all we need is
to posit some set of intrinsic variables. What
you're doing is making some very specific
conjectures about what those variables are,
without any evidence beyond the undisciplined
imaginings of biochemists.

Sooner or later, we want to develop some conjectures,
don't we? That is the first step in trying to specify
something sufficiently to generate some predictions
that could be tested.

Unfortunately, not being a biochemist myself, I have
to sift for warrant-able evidence from those who are
biochemists, undisciplined or not.

Unfortunately, you have your topmost layer
existing before there are any layers under it
from which it might develop.

That's sort of why I'm calling it a hybrid. It seems
that some of the _Intrinsic_ control systems develop
before there is much in the Way of constituent perceptual
input functions in the Hierarchy, from which they might
develop. Is it such a stretch to group some physio-
logical variables under a heading of Attachment-related,
& heuristically see if "social" mammals use them in
some distinctive way?

Having said that, the issue of "from which it might
develop" does need to be answered, before any so-called
Attachment level could set up shop.

I want to know how the
system is organized, trying not to prejudge any
answers we may find. You want it to come out in
support of facts you have decided to believe in,
and are looking for assumptions that will lead to
the answers you already believe are correct. That
puts us in different universes of discourse.

It's true I have hunches, but for a Lutheran Lake
Woebegone kid, I'm pretty constructivist in terms of
whatever bigger picture emerges. I try to shop on
the same corner you do, that of "trying not to prejudge
any answers we might find."

I'm willing to consider any spooky ideas you want to
dream up, but I'm not willing to believe them without
pretty solid evidence.

Spooky ideas??... Do these ideas spook you? ;-]

The process leading to these essays began for me with
contemplating the question, �Yes, where could the
reference specifications for System Concepts come
from?�

As long as we have to put it that way -- where
could they come from -- I'm not willing to give
any credence to possible answers, my own guesses
or anyone else's.

But a similar question, formulated for each of the
proposed levels, was certainly part of the years
leading up to B:CP, wasn't it? Granted, a bigger part
of those years, it seems, was the bottom-up question
of what are the constituent perceptions of any given
perception you could identify. But then you had to
knit those proposed levels together, with references
and all.

Part of my suspicion is that we are more formed than
we would like to believe by key Others in our lives.

And then we spend the rest of our lives trying to
get over it if we wake up in time. If you apply
what you just said to beliefs of all kinds,...

I _am_ applying it to beliefs of all kinds.

...I contend that what you will discover is not a form
of enlightenment, but a form of bondage.

Exactly. It cuts both ways, for good and ill.
Enlightenment is your presumption of where I supposedly
think this leads. That is just one possibility among
many. Fanaticism is another.

What we are taught is not true just because someone
taught it to us.

Yes. It is not true for that reason. But it may still
be _present_, for that very reason. That is a phenomenon
in need of an explanation. Some of our perceptions do
indeed become privileged with our hierarchy, & take on
undue preeminence. I think the evidence points to that
process beginning way before System Concepts are formed.

Maybe it arises as an offshoot of becoming dependent
on those who form such a big part of our environmental
feedback paths of control. In modeling basic PCT,
we tend to put the gain factor within the output
function. But maybe a way bigger portion transpires
within the environmental feedback function.

Other people are not only disturbances to us, (although
that certainly seems to be their main role...) They
are also the _means of attainment_ for many of our
controlled perceptions. How do such means-ends
relationships arise, among stages of development or
species of organisms that have no conception of the
higher levels an adult human can perceive?

To know all is impossible, but at
least is it possible not to prevent knowledge by
adopting beliefs in the attempt to leapfrog to a
conclusion that is desperately desired. Why so
desperate? That is the real question.

An up-a-level question deserves (an attempt at) an
up-a-level answer.

I try to be committed to a process of following wherever
the evidence leads. Now, that doesn't occur in a
vacuum, because obviously the questions we ask affect
the answers we receive. But I try very hard not
to pre-decide on the answers, or at least to hold
pre-decisions provisionally, while awaiting evidence
one way or the other.

But there is another aspect to how I operate, and I
view it as a procedural one. When I am considering
seriously a new line of thought, I work at capturing
its best features, detecting its potential, improving
it if I can, eliminating inconsistencies in my
perceptions, & making it as workable in my mind as
possible. I deliberately suspend, until a later step
in the procedure, the judgment as to whether it
ultimately holds water.

I think my reasoning is as follows. If, even in its
very best light with all things going for it, the line
of thought does not pass muster, then I can feel more
confident in rejecting it. If it does pass muster,
then I hold it, as a working belief, until something
more worthy is able to improve it or dislodge it.

There are probably additional up-a-level reflections
to be gleaned, from exploring "ultimately holds water,
... not pass muster, ... more worthy." But it is a
complicated business. Not all standards are those of
logic & evidence. Some are the intuitive sense of how
a mentor may have approached the issue.

One of my seminary professors used to say, "Theology
is autobiography," (not the other way around,
interestingly enough). Another used to say, "We are
named, long before we get to do our own naming."
Sailing via beacons such as these gets me past some
of the shoals. They may be part of why I tack toward
PCT, with its quite radical constructivism.

We ask why -- "why is that important?", "why so
desperate?" -- to move up the hierarchy. It just
seems, when we get to the top, the answer is more
than "I really like that Concept!"

I have certainly experienced the Observer sense,
(not quite a reply), of "It just is." But somewhere
between that sense and the concepts I like (or the
ones I am embarrassed to remember), seems to be a
space populated by people, key people.

Now, they may be further System Concepts, formative,
super-ordinate ones. But then I remember that business
of being named, long before I could do my own naming.
And it seems, that populated in-between space was there,
doing some kind of work, before I had the abstract
perceptions to control it in a more systems way.

So how was I controlling that space before? What
perceptions were available to me?

You don't have to give credence to any particular
answers, mine or anyone else's (including your own.)
But I find -- I have to give credence to these
questions.

Enough for now.

All the best,
Erling

[From Bjorn Simonsen =(2007.11.15,11:55 EUST)]
from Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.10 2140 EST)

The first idea to note is that a system concept is a highly
abstracted form of constructed perception. It is thus a late
addition, to my way of thinking, to a developing hierarchy of
perceptual control.

If I understand you correct you think that neurons from lower levels find
their way "uphill". That is natural when we think the lower levels must be
effective first.
I mentioned some research work done by a professor in molecular biology
(genetics) Thomas Edlund from the University in Ume� (Sweden). I will give
a short account.
What happens just after an egg is fertilized? It develops, but what develops
first? Is it heart, rib, arms or bones? Professor Edlund's specialty is the
embryo evolution. He said that after the first cell lump starts cell
division, the first specialized cells around that is formed is neurons and
skin cells. And the first neurons that is formed are those neurons that we
think upon as the most advanced neurons, the brain neurons. It is not spinal
cells or more primitive neurons. It is the forebrain cells.
The nearest I have been Thomas Edlund on the net is
http://ucmm.cs.it-norr.com/default.asp?id=1470&TID=&efid=1324

The way I understand his presentation is that just after the first cell
division the there is contact between those neurons we think are the most
advanced neurons and our "body". Later there is "shaped" other neurons.
Maybe there is still contact between intrinsic variables and the top (11. or
12.) level from soon after the first cell division.

bjorn

The reorganizing system does
keep reorganizing as long

as Intrinsic errors are not reduced (presumably to points

below some minimum thresholds.) That suggests that

Intrinsic references are not yet “satisfied,” so to

speak. Life support is treated as “good” for the system,

in the sense that disturbances to it are (indirectly)

resisted.
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.15.0842 MST)]

Erling Jorgensen (2007.11.15 0015 EDT) –

Not by the reorganizing system, it isn’t. You’re describing it as
“good” from the standpoint of some observing system, not from
the standpoint of the reorganizing system. When you’re inside the control
system, the reference signal isn’t experienced: the perceptual signal is.
You just see a perceptual signal in a condition that is too little, just
right, or too much not because of comparison with a reference, but
because that’s just what it is. You “just know” it’s good or
not good; the goodness seems to be in the experience, not in the
experiencer. To see the goodness as an opinion of an experiencer, you
have to back out of that experiencer (and into another) to see it that
way.

You really know all that, don’t you?

Good is simply
whatever reference conditions you

most earnestly seek.

I agree that each functioning control system has that

built in definition of “good.” If we generalize that to

some kind of common definition, it becomes "error

reduction is good."

Not to the system doing the error reduction: only the other system
observing it can see it that way. Your statement is theoretical, not
experiential.

I don’t think
there is any point in looking for some

universal, fixed, absolute kind of good, …

The only universal one I would use is my immediately

preceding sentence. I was going to add the inverse,

above, & make the definition "error reduction is good,

and error increase is bad." But I don’t necessarily

think the second part holds. In teaching, for example,

I think we do deliberately raise disturbances that do

increase error for the students, in the service of

seeing whether reorganization will go in a helpful

direction.

When you experience an error increase, you experience it as bad
perceptions, not errors relative to a reference signal. The latter is a
theoretical interpretation. If you’re used to error and expect it as a
normal part of life, you just correct the error (or wait for
reorganization if you don’t know how) and go on. If you’re not expecting
the error and don’t understand about reorganization, the experience is
unpleasant and you learn to avoid it. Pedagogues take note.

I would
allow social skills to be quite a broad

concept, including such things as (for a primate)

clinging to the underbelly of one’s mother by means

of hand grasping & controlling muscle force. …

That doesn’t sound very social to me. I think of

social skills as control of social perceptions, …

Well, you were the one that introduced the notion of

“skills,” paraphrasing my phrase about *having some

social utility* as “developing social skills.” If

hand-grasping maintains ventral-to-ventral contact,

& complements the other unknown entity’s "maternal

behavior," that sounds pretty skillful for a barely-

aware chimp.

To me a social skill is skill with controlling social perceptions: that
is, perceptions of relationships with other people. Hanging onto a
mother’s underbelly is not a social perception unless the baby chimp is
perceiving the object to which it’s clinging as a social object,
not a hairy bag – namely, another chimp, or even Mommy. Until that
perception arises, the baby isn’t controlling a social
relationship.

“Social utility” is an opinion of an observer, not a property
of the observed system.

I guess the theme developing here is that you have to describe these
things from inside the system you’re talking about, not as an outside
observer, if you want to understand what is happening as that system
experiences it. The judgments and descriptions you’re giving are about
the observer’s experiences, not the experiences of the observed
system.

A red flag goes up in me whenever people say “so to speak” or
“you could say that” or “in the sense that” or
“(indirectly)” and such. This means to me that they’re also
thinking just the opposite, else why not just go ahead and say it? These
modifiers mean that you’re not describing literally whatever you’re
observing, but describing some opinion or interpretation or metaphor or
analogy that you don’t really take literally. But descriptions, if not
literal, are not descriptions; they’re descriptions with spin, disguised
assertions.

Recalling our interesting MOL session/demo many years ago before a CSG
audience, I can’t help feeling you just need reminding of these things
you already know.

I have
deliberately left the definition of

intrinsic variables open, … To support

the basic theory of reoganization, all we need is

to posit some set of intrinsic variables. What

you’re doing is making some very specific

conjectures about what those variables are,

without any evidence beyond the undisciplined

imaginings of biochemists.

Sooner or later, we want to develop some conjectures,

don’t we? That is the first step in trying to specify

something sufficiently to generate some predictions

that could be tested.

Of course we can conjecture. I do it a lot. But following the conjecture
comes the critical judgment of it: is this conjecture supported by
anything? Is there a logic trail from the premise to the conclusion, that
has at least a respectable amount of evidence to keep it from sliding
down the slope? Or is it just that I like the conclusion it leads to?

Conjecture by itself is cheap; it also provides poor footholds unless
examined pretty closely, and is not to be trusted. All this has to be
considered before you even start thinking of what will follow if the
conjecture were true. First, find a real trail. Then consider where it
might end.

Unfortunately, not
being a biochemist myself, I have

to sift for warrant-able evidence from those who are

biochemists, undisciplined or not.

The problem with the biochemists is their conviction that all this
psychology stuff is hogwash; you just administer the correct chemical,
and balance out the side-effects with whatever other chemicals are called
for, and what’s the problem? I have sat at lunch in a hospital with
doctors and heard them talking that way, and I remember thinking that I
should never let these guys who I worked for get their hands on me. It
this religious conviction that “it’s all chemicals” that leads
biochemists and their admirers to interpret the chemical changes as
coming first and the psychological conditions as the effect.

I say that when you observe changes in biochemistry and accompanying
changes in psychological conditions, the best bet is that you are seeing
the whole system in perfect working order, doing just what it needs to do
under the current circumstances. When there is conflict, for example,
there is nothing wrong with the conflicted systems except that they are
being used by higher systems in a way that is self-contradictory. That’s
not a chemical problem: it’s an organizational problem. It leads to all
sorts of error signals and abnormal biochemical signatures and all that,
but you can’t cure it with chemicals. You can numb a tooth so it doesn’t
hurt, but that doesn’t mean you’re finished with it. To make a bad pun,
you probably have to find the root of the problem. Then the physical
symptoms will subside. You have to be careful about bets like that, of
course. Sometimes there is a chemical problem. But as most engineers
learn, you blame the software first, and only when you’ve ruled that out,
look for a hardware failure. The hardware is a lot more reliable than the
software.

Unfortunately,
you have your topmost layer

existing before there are any layers under it

from which it might develop.

That’s sort of why I’m calling it a hybrid. It seems

that some of the Intrinsic control systems develop

before there is much in the Way of constituent perceptual

input functions in the Hierarchy, from which they might

develop. Is it such a stretch to group some physio-

logical variables under a heading of Attachment-related,

& heuristically see if “social” mammals use them in

some distinctive way?

I’m willing to allow that some working control systems are inherited at
every level. Possibly – that remains to be demonstrated, but why rule it
out a priori? Mainly what I see as being inherited is the raw material
from which particular kinds of perceptions can be constructed through
experience and reorganization. The computations needed to produce
sensations – weighted sums of intensities – are different from the
computations needed to produce forms, or transitions, or relationships,
or system concepts. You will never get a system concept out of weighted
sums of principle-signals, whatever that could mean. Some other kind of
computation is needed; if I had any idea of what kind you would have
heard about it by now. Evolution has generated a scheme for constructing
a brain in such a way that 11 (I hope) kinds of hierarchically-related
perceptions can be learned and subjected to control -but it doesn’t
determine which examples of those kinds will appear, though as I say the
door isn’t closed. Most perceptions that neonates control, such as the
Babinski Reflex, disappear quite soon in life as reorganization takes
over. When babies are first suckled, they root around in a random search
for the nipple; that is soon replaced by a systematic and efficient
clamping onto that delicious thing. Other perceptions may persist and
call for control throughout life. We shall see.

I’m willing to
consider any spooky ideas you want to

dream up, but I’m not willing to believe them without

pretty solid evidence.

Spooky ideas??.. Do these ideas spook you?
;-]

Yeah, the idea that there’s someone who knows my every thought and will
send me to hell if I only pretend to believe in him, but who won’t put
the right thoughts into my brain when he could easily do it, is pretty
spooky. It used to send shivers up my back, before I figured out the
scam. Then I was mad as hell, and decided not to put up with that any
more. Now I think I understand more about the phenomena which were the
point of the god theory. There are actually some things that need
explaining – like awareness. But that isn’t spooky to me, just
interesting.

The process
leading to these essays began for me with

contemplating the question, “Yes, where could the

reference specifications for System Concepts come

from?”

As long as we have to put it that way – where

could they come from – I’m not willing to give

any credence to possible answers, my own guesses

or anyone else’s.

But a similar question, formulated for each of the

proposed levels, was certainly part of the years

leading up to B:CP, wasn’t it? Granted, a bigger part

of those years, it seems, was the bottom-up question

of what are the constituent perceptions of any given

perception you could identify. But then you had to

knit those proposed levels together, with references

and all.

The main problem was trying to see what I was taking for granted in the
background. I don’t remember how each level came to me, but I do remember
discovering configurations. What a shock that was, realizing that all
those forms and shapes and arrangements in my world were –
perceptions. It would have been very useful to have figured out
PCT while I was struggling with the god perception – but then I was only
11 or 12 years old.

What we are
taught is not true just because someone

taught it to us.

Yes. It is not true for that reason. But it may still

be present, for that very reason. That is a phenomenon

in need of an explanation.

You do come up with some real zingers. Yes, it could be present for that
reason. We form attachments very early, and some of them we never
outgrow. It’s important, I think, to get free of them when possible, not
to be free of the people, but to develop a more adult relationship with
them. I remember learning three-cushion billiards from a fascinating
older man full of stories about travel and adventures. His real name was
Rembrandt Noble, and on top of that he was – honestly – a house
painter. And he was damned good at three-cushion billiards.

Looking back, I realize that he was a drunk and maybe even a pedophile,
hanging about the community recreation center where I worked then after
school, without much of a life. He was a mentor who I liked very much and
even admired. Now I know him from my viewpoint as an adult who is much
older than he was then, and I think I still would like him if he were
alive, but what I see in memory is no longer what I saw then. I would
tell that kid to be a little careful around this boozy old man, who was
probably in his forties. Attachments form, and change, and leave their
influences. I’ll certainly give you that. But they aren’t the top level
as far as I can see, or near it. They have to do with social human
relationships.

Other people are
not only disturbances to us, (although

that certainly seems to be their main role…) They

are also the means of attainment for many of our

controlled perceptions. How do such means-ends

relationships arise, among stages of development or

species of organisms that have no conception of the

higher levels an adult human can perceive?

Well, you said it yourself, didn’t you? They are relationships, and they
become a means of attaining many of our controlled perceptions – of
higher orders. When you need to know something, you ask someone who
knows, and whose words you trust. When you need a skill, you watch
someone who has it, probably because you want to be like that person (as
you then perceive that person, and as I perceived Rembrandt Noble). Only
later, as you become more familiar with logic and principles and system
concepts through interacting with many people, do you begin to see the
same attachments through new eyes, replacing hero worship with friendship
and companionship and a feeling of shared humanity.

I think my
reasoning is as follows. If, even in its

very best light with all things going for it, the line

of thought does not pass muster, then I can feel more

confident in rejecting it. If it does pass muster,

then I hold it, as a working belief, until something

more worthy is able to improve it or dislodge it.

We probably work in similar ways. I don’t pursue conjectures because I’m
sure they are wrong, but because there’s a chance they might be right. So
I, too, am looking for the best in the concept being explored. But at the
same time, I deplore “belief,” acting as if something is true
when I don’t really have a good reason to think it’s true. I much prefer
to confess my ignorance and say I don’t know. After all, that’s the
truth. I don’t.

There are probably
additional up-a-level reflections

to be gleaned, from exploring "ultimately holds water,

… not pass muster, … more worthy." But it is a

complicated business. Not all standards are those of

logic & evidence. Some are the intuitive sense of how

a mentor may have approached the issue.

Yes, but ultimately it comes down to deciding how you, now, want to
approach the issue. Mentors can be wrong, while deserving love and
reverence for other reasons. We like things about people beyond their
logic. However, I am always suspicious when I have an “intuitive
sense” about something; I mark it as something to be investigated
before giving in to it. My track record for just intuitively knowing
things is erratic.

One of my seminary
professors used to say, "Theology

is autobiography," (not the other way around,

interestingly enough).

Doesn’t the Bible say it’s Autobiography, with the capital?

We ask why –
“why is that important?”, "why so

desperate?" – to move up the hierarchy. It just

seems, when we get to the top, the answer is more

than “I really like that Concept!”

I agree. We get to awareness itself, which is a major mystery, if not a
Mystery. I can know only my own limitations at that level. I know what I
don’t experience and what I do experience. I can’t know what it is for
you.

I have certainly
experienced the Observer sense,

(not quite a reply), of “It just is.” But somewhere

between that sense and the concepts I like (or the

ones I am embarrassed to remember), seems to be a

space populated by people, key people.

But people. Just people.

Now, they may be
further System Concepts, formative,

super-ordinate ones. But then I remember that business

of being named, long before I could do my own naming.

And it seems, that populated in-between space was there,

doing some kind of work, before I had the abstract

perceptions to control it in a more systems way.

Yes, the sociologists aren’t wrong about saying the self is a social
entity. But they’re talking about a stage of development, not the
finished product. I was named Will Power, and it took some cogitation to
get free of the idea that I had to live up to that. It became a joke.
Then I gradually invented myself, keeping what I liked about the old self
and (I’m idealizing) discarding what I no longer wanted to be. And
finally, much much later, I saw my self as an object of awareness
and no longer the sole inhabitant. A collection of characteristics, none
of which proved on closer inspection to be the Observer. We are named,
but then we learn to rename ourselves.

I think I’m talking theology here, but not from a theological point of
view.

Best,

Bill P.