Re: Powers of perceptual control (PPC)


I didn’t read yet all Volumes. So my critics is limited.

My oppinion is that your language expression is unique and fluid for reading. Anyway language expression is original in every human. It’s quite unique idea of constructivism.

I also thought that our previous talkings will have some results, but it seems that you kept your original version of Preface and in this way I think you didn’t make good PCT foundation for the rest of your Volumes.

When you described original foundation for PCT you wrote :

“According to PCT, every intentional action is for control of some variable called a ‘perception’. The word has a specialized meaning in PCT, and does not necessarily refer to a perception of which one is conscious. What often remains obscure, however, even to oneself as ‘the actor’, is what variable, what ‘perception’, is being controlled by some action…//… As we shall find as we read through this book, the answer is seldom unique. Any “action” may well support control of many variables, and control of a given variable is usually performed by many actions”.

Sorry to say it Martin, this is quite wrong understanding of PCT and I doubt that Bill thought about “intentional behavior” as controlling perception. We went through this problems many times on CSGnet. The Title of the book is “Behavior : The control of perception”. It doesn’t say specifically that “action IS for control of perception”. Also diagram in LCS III clearly shows that behavior (output) is consequence of “perceptual control”. Perception is controlled in comparator not outside. It seems that you put references outside of organism what Henry Yin denyed in quite sofisticated way.

Mantra in PCT is that output “intentional behavior” as “some action” is not used for controlling perception. Behavior (actions) are not controlled in PCT specialy not every single action or some actions. Bill even offered physiological evidences.

Also your understanding of control that external actions are not “pushing” perceptions toward references on the bases of Friston shows that “behavior” as single action or some actions can’t be control.

Where can I see this sort of thinking : Behavior is controlling perception in Powers work? Nobody ever proved me that on CSGnet. It can be that Bill sometimes changed his mind and maybe you got wrong impression that he is talking about “behavior as control”. But generally he didn’t write about that.

I’m again sorry to say that your statement more looks like some of Ricks’ statements. In RCT (Ricks’ Control Theory) is clear that “behavior (intentional action) is controlling perception”, but Rick never offered any serious scientific evidences for his statements. **Whatever Rick wrote about it’s sure not PCT.

At least I would expect that you would use some Bill Powers statements for comparison about what is PCT “according to PCT” and what is not.

For ex. you could use his OUTPUT FUNCTION :

In B:CP (2005), OUTPUT FUNCTION is defined as the portion of a system that converts the magnitude or state of a signal inside the system into a corresponding set of effects on the immediate environment of the system

In LCS III (2008) …the output function shown in it’s own box represents the means this system has for causing changes in it’s environment.

I don’t see any traces in Powers definitions, that “intentional behavior” (action, ouput of the Living system) could be used for “controlling” perception. Definitions are quite clear : behavior (output, actions) are used for causing changes (set of effects) to immediate environment.

You probably mixed something. References are not outside the Living system but inside. So perception is controlled inside the system as Bill described, not outside as RCT (Ricks Control Theory) wrongly predicts.

“Intentional behavior” is used only for causing “set of effects” or changes in external environment. It’s just means for controlling internal states of Living system. By Ashby all behaviors are homeostatic, used for keeping “essential variables” inside physiological limits. Behaviors (actions) are product of nervous system which is “attached” to essential variables as you can see in my presentation.

So statement about intentional behavior could look something like this if it would be in PCT meaning:

According to PCT Intentional behavior (actions, some actions)…is defined by set of effects (changes) to immediate environment and in this way actual perception is also disturbed or disturbances are also cancelled.

We must not forget Powers defintion of control (B:CP, 2005): " CONTROL : Achievement and maintenance of a preselected state in the controlling system, through actions on the environment that also cancel the effects of disturbances.

Not all effects caused by behavior (outpout, actions) are disturbing perception or cancelling the effects of disturbances. And beside that It’s ALSO cancelling the effects of disturbances (among other effects) not categorical control.

Bill probably meant effects made by action or some actions, which can be united into “Line of behavior” (Ashby’s terminology). Under certain conditions “line of behavior” can come very close to control, so that every action could really “push” perception toward references.

Any life experiment** that could measure single output will show that “intentional behavior” just cause effetcs (trial and error) to external environment and thus fully confirm Bill’s definitions. When you connect measured “points” you get “Line of behavior” which usually ordinary people does not show that perception is directly “controlled” toward references. Many attempts usually do not show that “intentional behavior” could form “Line of behavior” toward references. It’s some other mechanism which was fleetingly described by Bill but it seems that you missed it like all the others, specially Rick.

I think that any book about “intentional behavior” should be written when one understands how organisms function.

Another big problem I see in your statement :

“The fundamental structural element of his “Perceptual Control Theory” (PCT) is the “control loop”, a mathematical description of a servomechanism implemented into organic, living things, The book title “Powers of Perceptual Control” is a deliberate pun on his name”.

If I remember right you were talking about algebraic description not matehmatical. That’s at least how you described Rick’s mechanical “mathematical” understanding of control loop through “behavior is control”.

I see also a problem when you are talking about “implementation of servo mechanism” into Living beings. This is problematic, because “servo mechanism” can be only a breaf model for understanding how control works in organism. It can not be directly implemented. Beside that it’s showing control of output.

Human does not work as machines. But there are similarities. Bill probably took the idea in Ashby’s work (homeostat), and Ashby quite clearly distinguished machines and Living beings, as Wiener did. Principles how Living beings work can be “implemented” into machines, but mechanical understanding of machines can’t be directly aplied to understanding how Living beings work.

There is also another BIG PROBLEM. On p. 28 you wrote :

“According to PCT, all these are based on one single idea: if you perceive that something is not as you want it, you act and try to fix the discrepancy (the “error”). More precisely, if you perceive (the “What” of the loop) that something is not as you would like it to be (the “Why” of the loop), you act (the “How” of the loop) in ways that bring your perception of it closer to how you want it. That, put simply, is “control of perception”. This is by no means a new idea. Powers liked to cite Aristotle and John Dewey as his intellectual ancestors in noticing that everything you do, you do to serve your own purposes”.

I don’t understand how you equated and connected phylosophers and psychologists view of achieveing own purposes to “Control of perception” as means for achieving goals.

If “Control of perception” is not new Powers idea, show me please where exactly can I find in works of Aristotle and John Dewey or any intellectual ancestors or anywhere, that purposes, goals can be achieved through “Control of perception”???

I personally think that phylosophers and psychologist including specially Rick and you, think that goals can be achieved through “Control of behavior”, controlling some “external variable” or CEV, which somehow produces “controlled perception”.

I even think that almost 99,99 % people on Earth think like you and Rick.

“Control of perception” for achieving goals is unigue concept of W.T. Powers and should be burried deep into Cybernetics and Psychology. You reduced or diminished Powers work to the level of any average phylosopher and any average psychologist although we all know that Bill seriously criticized their work. Maybe you should read again Bill’s work, before you write such a statements or book.

But maybe now I understand why nobody wants to help me find Bill’s deserved place in history of Cybernetics including the owner of PCT. Becuase it seems that nobody understands PCT and Bills contribution to Cybernetics and science in whole.

That’s what I also tried to show in my presentaion on Cybernetics Society. What is unigue idea of W.T. Powers among other Cyberneticians. Many presentations will follow and among other issues they will highlight really deserved place of W.T. Powers in the history of science.

Another problem:

“Finally, I must try to give at least a little credit where much more credit is due. I cannot overemphasize the importance of Bill Powers in helping me to understand his insights, and his gentle persistence in correcting what he (but not always I) saw as my errors”.

It seems that you forgot somebody that talked to you with PCT knowledge and you understood PCT better. Even in discoussions with Bil he supported you when he was “protecting” Rick. I think you should take a walk though CSGnet archives and our private conversations on through ECACS.

Do you still keep my PCT analysis of school system? You explicitelly asked me if you could keep it.

I do not know how you are able to interpret Martin’s words as saying that actions are controlled. To say that an action is intentional is merely to say that it is the control output of a control system. The control output (do not misread that as “controlled output”) has perceived environmental effects which oppose the effects of disturbances on the controlled perceptual input. As you know, the effect of a control output upon a perceptual input is directly due to the difference between the perceptual input and a reference value for that input. Such actions are our behavioral means of controlling perceptual inputs. When they are measured in an experimental laboratory situation, we call them output quantity variables (see figure), and likewise the disturbance variable and the perceptual input variable are difficult to quantify precisely outside of a controlled laboratory situation.

Martin wrote “intentional action” to distinguish control outputs from actions that are not outputs of control systems. If you do not know what I mean, or if you disagree that such unintended actions exist, that is a conversation that we could have next, without delay. (And when I say “intended” and “unintended” it has nothing to do with being aware or unaware.)

As Martin says, an ‘action’ that you observe might support control of more than one perceptual input. His use of the word “support” is interesting. He’s just saying that the influence of a given behavioral output through the environmental feedback function may affect more than one perceptual input.

You say that the title behavior: the control of perception ‘doesn’t say specifically that “action IS for control of perception”.’

“At the conceptual core of the theory is the observation that living things control the perceived environment by means of their behavior.” –Powers et al. 2011

  • Output Quantity: measure of system’s physical output action or observed behavior.

  • Feedback Function: Physical properties that convert action or behavior into effect on input quantity.

  • Input Quantity: physical variable that affects sensory inputs of controller (may be multiple).

  • Disturbance: Physical variable that affects input quantity (maybe multiple).

The feedback function and three quantities (output, disturbance, and input) are perceivable physical properties of what the observed subject, the experimenter, and an observer all perceive to be the environment.

Be very careful to understand what a person has written before you accuse them of not understanding PCT.

Thanks,Bruce, but it’s OK. Boris’s logic is impeccable. I don’t understand his version of PCT, and therefore I don’t understand PCT. Quite simple, and irrefutable.

I do have one question, however, based on both private and public communication. I do not understand why Boris adamantly refuses to answer any direct questions about his system, but goes off on another topic whenever one is asked.

Martin, here is one possible answer to your question, which Boris posted in another topic:


as i already told you what I think about you (intelligent person who understands what is going on). i’m surprised that I have to repeat the same things all over again. It’s not my version of PCT. It’s PCT version of PCT what I proved 100x with citing Powers work. See CSGnet archives. And it’s not my version of organisms functioning as I’m integrating knowledge from many scientific sources. It’s scientific version. I hope that you understand what is scientific.

My “impeccable” logic is not in your range because you don’t think scientifically. I know that you asked me to exactly explain to you my DBCS theory because you don’t understand scientific ground for it. My presentation tells a lot about scientific understanding of organisms functioning. I know that many people do not understand it as it is simply scientific. You have to understand science and then you’ll understand my DBCS. That goes for Bruce amd Rick and so on. Only science present real advancement in human understanding of Universe, Solar system and Life on Earth etc.

You are all rotating on one place because you stopped integrating scientific knowledge into your understanding of the World around you and understanding how you really function. You’ll need time to adapt on my logic of thinking although once you understood it quite well.

I made my point with my presentation and I’ll make more scientific points in my next presentations.

I couldn’t present my real knowledge on CSGnet because Rick was obviously stealing my knowledge and present it as his own. Bruce borrowed ideas from my presentation and started a “revolution”. You don’t want to admit my influence on your understanding of PCT. You still didn’t answer my question. Do you still keep my PCT explanation of school system??? You made speccial request to keep it. Why?

If you want my knowledge we’ll have to establish trustfull and honest relationship without manipulations of all kinds like you and Bruce are doing now. If you’ll want to improve your knowledge you’ll do it even without my knowledge. But it seems that you are not willing to make a step forward. You are defending your positions. What a known general “reaction” of ordinary people. Why change anything if it goes well.



V V ned., 12. dec. 2021 ob 00:30 je oseba Bruce E. Nevin via IAPCT <> napisala: