Hi Malou and others involved in the discussion,
Interesting questions that lay bare what we don’t know yet or haven’t really figured out that well from a PCT standpoint.
I’d like to add a few of my thoughts. I don’t know if and how they answer your questions, but I imagine your reorganisation of these topics is continuing anyway, and I’ll just add my perceptions to the pile. Please note that I don’t take the levels specifically as dogma, there may be more, they may have other organizations (I know Rick is afraid of dogma in the absence of evidence), but the framework laid out by Bill Powers is way to valuable not to use in our thinking (even though evidence in a strict sense is lacking).
The first question was about distinctions between consciousness, awareness, focus and those concepts.
My idea is that this process takes different forms at different levels of the hierarchy. That’s why we have many names. But since these names are not originated in PCT and the hierarchy of perceptions is not a common framework (not even in PCT), I doubt that much has been written about it yet.
Our use of consciousness (in Dutch “Zelfbewustzijn”) is tied to our perception of ‘self’, and our use of higher level perceptions (many of which verbal). I’d say consciousness refers to processes involving the Programs (L9) and Principles (L10) levels.
Going lower, we have sequential perceptions (Sequences, level 8), Categories (Level 7), Relationships (level 6). It’s hard to apply ‘consciousness’ to these levels, it’s more a matter of awareness (Dutch: gewaarzijn). There is no ‘I’ in these levels because this level of control is not necessary. For example: controlling a sequence level perception is simply done by following the track you’re on. “You” don’t have to make any decisions.
Even lower level perceptions are more difficult to isolate in awareness, I’d say sometimes these perceptions come into attention, such as events (level 5), transitions (level 4). It’s on these levels that the perception of time appears.
The lowest levels don’t have a perception of time so our concept of awareness or consciousness (which includes some sense of process - meaning going from one form to another) is even more difficult. For example level 3 configurations, level 2 sensations, level 1 intensities. These experiences take a well trained meditator or facilitation by psychedelics to be experienced in isolation, I guess.
And then back again to the highest levels. Our current highest level is that of system concepts (L11). I interpret that level as our way to control for the unity of our experience. For example, I control for the system concept of PCT, and when I encounter a statement, I can ‘sense’ that it fits my system concept of PCT or not. I can regard the statement as true or untrue. I also hold many other system concepts, for example about my self (this is like me, or not like me), about the truth of perceptual experiences (I haven’t seen angels, but I saw one, I’d have a conflict in my system concept of what’s possible in this world).
You also offer some thoughts about how to interpret the experience of ‘oneness’ such as in therapy. An important aspect of the hierarchical organization of perceptions that the step from one level to a level up, is always a many-to-one step. Such that a set of categories make up a sequence, a set of sequences form programs, a set of programs is a principle. The set is always more (at least different) from the part.
This means to me that every level-up gain of control could feel like a unifying experience. If I can’t make a choice in what to do (a Program-level conflict) and I have a sudden insight into what’s important, and this means that the choice doesn’t actually matter that much, it’s a unifying experience between level 9 and 10.
Of course the most intense experiences are those in which our sense of self dissolves in the greater sense of everything. That would be a glimpse of a level 12 experience, where the truth of me as a single unity is suddenly one of many truths possible. From reasoning I’d say that level 12 involves a way to combine conflicting system concepts under one unifying perception. I think that borders on religious experiences although I think mediation practice and Eastern Philosophy are an easier connection.
Those are my thoughts on consciousness and awareness in the levels.
Next question is how to connect the dots between awareness and reorganization.
Somehow, awareness always involves error. Please note that error is not a signal that something is ‘wrong’. It’s a signal of difference between reference and perception, and could also mean suprise, new, unexpectedness, difference. Also, error is never stable because it is part of the loop that is constantly changing. Resolving error in one system involves creating error in another system. I have trouble thinking of ways to be aware without error.
I become aware of something in my environment, if something changes. I become aware if something is missing. I can pick up my keys from the hook in the halway unaware, but become aware only when they are missing. That’s error.
Reorganization as I understand it now, happens when control systems can’t resolve their error in their own system (on their own level). Higher level changes are needed. So when error within a system exceeds a certain level (a reference within the reorganization system that is orthogonally connected to all control systems) connect up-level control systems randomly change their output until the error is reduced to acceptable values.
Following this, and my example with the keys: my normal “keys on the hook” control system (sequence level) can’t resolve the error, and I need to test out multiple programs (keys on the table, in the car, in my purse, lost) to find my keys. This is reorganization, and awareness at the same time.
I’m curious to see where all these thoughts take us,