Purpose, cherpas...folk(purpose) =/= PCT(purpose)

[From: cc> Chris Cherpas (961001.1035 PT)]
  [re: BP> Bill Powers (961001.0600 MDT)]

About the only thing you can say about scientists who bravely stand up for
the notion of purposive behavior is that they have come to their senses
instead of bowing to the pressure of scientific opinion. That does not make
them pioneers; it just says that they finally have a chance to get back to
the real work, which is to understand how purposive behavior works.

I agree that purpose has been around as a folk concept a long time --
probably pre-dating recorded history. But let's not assume (pretend?)
that "purpose" as a folk concept has not carried connotations which have
slowed our scientific understanding, or that this "purpose" just needed
to be properly explicated _in toto_ by control theory to simply extend
its already useful status in the lexicon. Purpose has been associated
with the concept of the Prime Mover, God, and humanity's usual tendency
to control for an infantile narcissism well into adulthood. I hope
PCT will eventually do more to eliminate some of that nonsense, not
support it with mathematical/scientific respectability (try "creation
science" if that's of interest).

Scientist/philosophers, like J.R. Kantor, wanted to remove Purpose (Big
P) from our view of behavior; Skinner's "operant" was an attempt to
keep what was important, while shedding the unsightly fat; certainly,
Watson's S-R psychology was an overreaction (so to speak!); and none
would ever see the critical aspect of purpose (small p) -- i.e., in
terms of a formal theory of perceptual control. But PCTers need not
play a language game in which "jes' folks talkin' 'bout organisms
being purposeful" is just an unrefined version of control theory,
perhaps even fantasizing that the common man intuitively sensed
all along the nature of negative feedback, which was perversely
censored and hidden by insane behaviorists just in the last century.
I think we'd agree that such a reconstruction is Rubbish (Big R).
There are a lot more stupid ideas around than smart ones, and
PCT has done quite a lot better from what I can see than just take
an old-folks version of "purpose" and wrapped a formal theory around it.

Ask any _real_ proponent of "purpose" -- like those people who
think evolution is the work of satan (remember, an overwhelming
majority of Americans are theists) -- what *they* think of your
(PCT's) interpretation of the concept! They'll say you've
co-opted a cherished human value and turned it into a thermostat!

=========={Warning: Optional, mean-spirited rave...}================

OK, I don't really speak for those people, so I don't know,
but, please, give me a break from this purposeless pap already!
I don't care if you felt "brave" or not when you decided not
to carry on the S-R tradition; you weren't controlling for
feeling brave were you? I think not. I suppose one possibility
is that the discovery of perceptual control was motivated by a desire
to retain the concept of purpose in all its narcissistic glory, but
you happened to have been in the right circumstances and stumbled
(blind variations, right?) onto a theory that really fits.

==============={Attention: Not as spirited rave...}================

To repeat: do you really think _PCT's version_ of "purpose" is what
the folks in Akron Ohio (home of Ernest Angley, friend of Jesus)
want to have in their faces? Note: the folk concept of
"purpose" is more closely related to perceptual control than
"the operant" -- but folk(purpose) =/= PCT(purpose). If you insist that
it is, you risk even more sloppy, inaccurate "applications of
control theory" than you'd ever want to know about.

The Main Point: "Perceptual Control" is just a better concept than
mere "purpose" (quibbler's note: perceptual control gives
meaning to the PCT concept of reference so let's not quibble about
whether purpose equates to control or to reference --> Rick Marken,
that was for you, stalwart protector of PCT ontology).

Any comments (with or without smiley faces) are greatly appreciated.

Respectfully, but insanely,