Science and religion

[From Rick Marken (991011.0930)]

Bruce Nevin (991008.1608 EDT)--

IMO, the proper purpose of religious practices is just this,
to point the practitioners toward having certain experiences.

This is the purpose of scientific practices as well, is it
not? So why make a distinction between scientific and
religious practices, except, perhaps, to note that the latter
are a subset of the former?

In science, the point of experience (disciplined by methods
such as skeptical tests) is to refine the explanation; in
religion, the point of explanations and of methods is to point
one to experiences.

But the point of explanations and methods in science is
also to point one to experiences. I don't see the difference
between your concept of "religion as experience" and my
concept of science, except, perhaps, that my concept of
science includes the notion of testable models. If anything,
your notion of "religion as experience" seems like a subset of
science; your "religion as experience" is the observational
component of science. Science adds the discipline of trying
to understand these observations in terms of working models.

Is "religion as experience" anything other than a subset of
science?

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Gregory (991011.1358 EDT)]

Rick Marken (991011.0930)

Is "religion as experience" anything other than a subset of
science?

It seems to me that religion has at least two functions, only one of which
it shares with science. The first is to explain the world. In this function
religion has largely been supplanted by science whose explanations provide
considerably more predictive power. The second function of religion is to
offer social "rules" which are presumably more convincing if backed by the
threat of divine wrath. Mystical religions (broadly interpreted to include
Zen Buddhism) function to point to experience, but they represent a very
small segment of religion as far as I can tell.

The other day I heard of a talk given by Steven Hawking at Harvard. (I can't
make head nor tails of what he says in general, so I didn't stand in line to
get a ticket to hear him.) Hawking argued that something like the anthropic
principle seemed to him to be unavoidable especially when you take quantum
effects into account. Basically, the anthropic principle is an attempt to
solve the "fine-tuning" problem. The problem is that all sorts of otherwise
arbitrary constants of nature have to be carefully fine-tuned to produce our
universe. The anthropic principle suggests that there are other (_many_
other) universes where these constants have other values. In these
universes, however, life has not emerged for a variety of reasons (all
hydrogen got converted into helium in the big bang, metals heavier than
carbon never formed in stellar interiors, etc.) and so no one is there to
observe conditions greatly different than the ones we observe.

It occurred to me that this argument could be converted into one that favors
a Creator who provided the fine tuning. After all it is not at all obvious
that Ockham's razor would favor an infinite number of universes to a single
universe that is the product of a fine tuner.

Lest I be accused of raising false expectations, there is of course no
reason whatsoever to link the Fine Tuner with the Judeo-Christian-Moslem
God. It sounds more like Aristotle's Prime Mover. I find no evidence that
the Fine Tuner has the least interest in the fate of humanity or particular
individuals. Rather the evidence suggests a Fine Tuner who is either
indifferent or impotent when it comes to answering individual pleas.

Babba Bruce

[From Bruce Nevin (991012.1001 EDT)]

Rick Marken (991011.0930)--

Bruce Nevin (991008.1608 EDT)--

In science, the point of experience (disciplined by methods
such as skeptical tests) is to refine the explanation; in
religion, the point of explanations and of methods is to point
one to experiences.

But the point of explanations and methods in science is
also to point one to experiences.

I thought the point of science was to provide an intellectually satisfying
and technologically effective explanation of what we experience. Am I
wrong? Or are you saying that experiences of intellectual satisfaction and
technological efficacy should be added to William James's _Varieties of
Religious Experience_? Or are you saying that when you test a theory, the
experience of new evidence is comparable to religious experience?

[...] science includes the notion of testable models.
[...] "religion as experience" is the observational
component of science. Science adds the discipline of trying
to understand these observations in terms of working models.

Is "religion as experience" anything other than

[the observational part]

of science?

The observational part of science excludes anecdotal evidence because
conditions it can't be verified and replicated. No one has ever figured out
how one person can verify or replicate the religious experience of another.
Even the manipulations in _Varieties of Psychedelic Experience_, which were
thought to have something to do with religion, could not meet this
criterion of replicability. In addition, religious experience is private:
the only possible observer is the experiencer. Science has generally
avoided purely introspective observations, but replicability can get around
that.

Among themselves, mystics report intersubjective agreement about their
experiences, but their discourse is metaphorical, and often uses imagery
from the religious tradition of their origin. Even to events that can be
described prosaically they often attribute metaphorical significance, in
the manner of divination, portents, and omens. This is not the kind of
language that is used in science for reporting observations!

Of course these mystics might just be nuts, too. That's much simpler. Why
bother about their hallucinations? There's a long tradition of methods for
not being bothered by the reports of mystics.

  Bruce Nevin

···

At 09:32 AM 10/11/1999 -0700, Richard Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (991012.0840)]

Me:

But the point of explanations and methods in science is
also to point one to experiences.

Bruce Nevin (991012.1001 EDT)

I thought the point of science was to provide an intellectually
satisfying and technologically effective explanation of what we
experience. Am I wrong?

Just incomplete. Once you have a good model (which is what
I presume you mean by "intellectually satisfying and
technologically effective explanation") you can point to
experiences that a person should be able to have. My "mind
reading" demo, for example
(http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/ControlDemo/ThreeTrack.html) is
based on an understanding
of the control of input model of behavior. This demo points
people to an experience (of having their intentions "read"
by a computer) that they would not have known they could have
if there were no PCT.

No one has ever figured out how one person can verify or
replicate the religious experience of another.

No one had figured out how to detect another person's
intentions until PCT came along. Indeed, no one knew what
an intention _was_ (reference specification for a controlled
perceptual variable) before PCT came along. Religious
experiences are perceptions; they may be controlled perceptions.
But whether religious (or mystical) experiences are controlled
or not I see no reason to think that these experiences are
beyond the ken of scientific understanding. Indeed, I so no
a priori reason to think that any experience (including
scientific experiences) cannot be understood scientifically.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Nevin (991012.1242 EDT)]

Rick Marken (991012.0840)

Once you have a good model [...] you can point to
experiences that a person should be able to have. My "mind
reading" demo, for example
(http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/ControlDemo/ThreeTrack.html) is
based on an understanding
of the control of input model of behavior. This demo points
people to an experience (of having their intentions "read"
by a computer) that they would not have known they could have
if there were no PCT.

So you are saying that this is on a par with the religious experiences
investigated by William James in _The Varieties of Religious Experience_?
To meet his criteria for something to be a religious experience, is it
sufficient to say "Yeah, I think it's a pretty damned good demo, and what
it shows you, if you really get it, is mind boggling and earth shaking" and
so on?

I see no
a priori reason to think that any experience (including
scientific experiences) cannot be understood scientifically.

Sure, any experience can be among the observed phenomena of science.
However, that does not make it "a subset of science [namely] the
observational component of science". Activities in the "observational
component of science" are for the most part pretty boring. Epiphanies and
exciting insights may result from applying methods to use observations to
change or confirm a theory; scientific "aha!" experiences can even be among
the observed phenomena of a science, as you say, but in that case they are
not in "the observational component of science," they are what is being
observed.

I am not saying that mystical experience is inherently beyond scientific
investigation. I am saying that your claim that mystical experience reduces
to "the observational component of science" seems to me to be nonsense.

I agree with your distrust of religious dogma. I have suggested that one
legitimate function of religious preachments, writings, and iconography is
to help people find their way to direct experiences of their own. A perhaps
more pressing function is to provide an organizing context for such
experiences when people do have them. These experiences are often
disorienting and confusing. Sometimes people are terrified, sometimes they
get the big head about being messengers of god, avenging angels, saviors,
etc. Religious institutions help to domesticate this stuff. But in addition
to these legitimate functions, people with roles in religious institutions
control for the stability and well being of the institution, of their
roles, and of themselves as functionaries and beneficiaries. A common
result, historically, is that mystical experience is not merely
domesticated but suppressed. Hence the dichotomy I suggested between
exoteric ecclesiasticisms and esoteric religions; or, if you prefer,
between religions and mysticism.

  Bruce Nevin

···

At 08:42 AM 10/12/1999 -0700, Richard Marken wrote:

[From Chris Cherpas (991012.1010 PT)]

The historical trend is: religion down, science up.
There is nothing new in religion. It just gives up
more and more ground as science proceeds to explain
what religion previously proclaimed.

Meanwhile, the awe experienced while preceiving
oneself participating in a universe of such seemingly
infinite and infinitesimal extents is enhanced by
scientific understanding, not diminished. Religion
quickly runs out of details in its myths of how and
why the universe is experienced as it is by humans.
Religion is Re-run Central. It then rapidly degenerates
into proclamations that people give up their attempts
to understand the universe on their own and accept the
unchanging explanations of religious authority. This is
boring. Religion, in effect, leads to a reduction in the
"religious experience." It is a dead end.

Science, by contrast, emphasizes that _anyone_ can
replicate, improve, or challenge its explanations.
Aside from any grand theories, the huge number of
details that science accumulates enriches and extends
human perceptions, provides new fuel for the imagination,
and provides fresh alternatives for people to ponder
and explore. Science draws together the human
community to share in knowledge, questioning, and
the ongoing conversation about existence. Science
is a living process, fully owned and operated by the
people for the people -- beings who are not second-class
to some "force" that, for some suspicious reason, must
remain bigger, better, smarter and more important than
any mere human.

As science approaches the field of human understanding
itself, the basis for both the "religious experience"
and the religion that seems to have so successfully
co-opted it, will gradually be explicated. Most people
will no longer subscribe to the religious explanations,
and those who continue to be religious will no longer
have the power that they have historically held, freeing
them to concentrate on their relatively limited religious
experiences, while no longer being burdened by the obligation
to "save" everyone else.

Hey, man. All power to the people.

Regards,
cc

[From Rick Marken (991012.1050)]

Chris Cherpas (991012.1010 PT) --

Superb!

Bruce Nevin (991012.1242 EDT)--

So you are saying that this [Mind reading demo] is on a par
with the religious experiences investigated by William James

Of course not. It's _much_ more profound.

I am not saying that mystical experience is inherently beyond
scientific investigation.

That's reassuring.

I am saying that your claim that mystical experience reduces
to "the observational component of science" seems to me to be
nonsense.

That's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying that mystical
experiences are perceptual experiences, as are scientific
experiences, sexual experiences, artistic experiences, etc.
It's all perception. Science is a very successful approach to
developing explanations of our perceptual experience.

I have suggested that one legitimate function of religious
preachments, writings, and iconography is to help people find
their way to direct experiences of their own.

Could you give me an example of what you mean here? Isn't
direct experience just _there_; what's to _find_?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Nevin (991012.1531)]

Chris Cherpas (991012.1010 PT) 10:13 AM 10/12/1999 -0700 --

Yes, religious institutions are not good at explanation. By all accounts,
religious experiences are not perceptions that one can control. And
religion does seem to have to do with things one cannot control, doesn't
it. Perhaps it will all be overtaken by the advance of science, and our
perceptions will then be verified in perfect accord with Reality,
something that is presently not possible for us.

Rick Marken (991012.1050) --

So you are saying that this [Mind reading demo] is on a par
with the religious experiences investigated by William James

Of course not. It's _much_ more profound.

This is an assertion that you have had all of those experiences and have
made the comparison. I'm impressed.

I am saying that your claim that mystical experience reduces
to "the observational component of science" seems to me to be
nonsense.

That's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying that mystical
experiences are perceptual experiences, as are scientific
experiences, sexual experiences, artistic experiences, etc.
It's all perception. Science is a very successful approach to
developing explanations of our perceptual experience.

Then you agree that religious experience may be legitimate subject matter
for science, but it is not a subpart of science, just as the digestive
system of the giraffe is legitimate subject matter for science but is not a
subpart of science.

I have suggested that one legitimate function of religious
preachments, writings, and iconography is to help people find
their way to direct experiences of their own.

Could you give me an example of what you mean here? Isn't
direct experience just _there_; what's to _find_?

Well, yes, if you are aware of it. And no, it depends on what you make of it.

Example. I don't know what could be useful. They were crossing the bridge,
the student asked how deep the water was, the teacher pushed him in. Or on
the road the samurai demanded "teach me about heaven and hell!" "Why should
I bother with a stupid lout like you!" As the outraged samurai raised his
sword to cut off his head, the master said "That's hell." "Oh! I might have
killed you! And you risked your life to teach me that!" Looking down at the
kneeling, sobbing samurai, he replied "And that's heaven." "For what it's
worth," he might have added. Well, for what it's worth, here's the 3rd
Chinese patriarch of zen on direct experience:

............................. begin quote .............................

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love
and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make
the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely
apart.

If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against
anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease
of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's
essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect, like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is
in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do
not see the true nature of things.

[...]

The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from
the truth. Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing that you will
not be able to know.

[...]

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only
because of our ignorance. Do not search for the truth, only cease to
cherish opinions.

[...]

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can
offend; and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the
old way. When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to
exist. When thought-objects vanish, the thinking subject vanishes, as when
the mind vanishes objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject, mind; the mind (subject) is such
because of things (object). Understand the relativity of these two, and the
basic reality: the unity of emptiness. In this emptiness, the two are
indistinguishable, and each contains in itself the whole world. If you do
not discriminate between coarse and fine, you will not be tempted to
prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with
limited views are fearful and irresolute. The faster they hurry, the slower
they go. And clinging cannot be limited. Even to be attached to the idea of
enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way, and
there will be neither coming nor going.

Obey the nature of things, your own nature, and you will walk freely and
undisturbed. When thought is in bondage, the truth is hidden, for
everything is murky and unclear. And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness. What benefit can be derived from
distinctions and separations? If you wish to move in the One Way, do not
dislike even the world of senses and ideas. Indeed, to accept them fully is
identical with true enlightenment. The wise man strives to no goals, but
the foolish man fetters himself. There is one dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind
with the discriminating mind is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion. With enlightenment there is no liking
and disliking. All dualities come from ignorant inference. They are like
dreams, or flowers in air: foolish to try to grasp them! Gain and loss,
right and wrong--such thoughts must finally be abolished, at once!

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease. If the mind makes
no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are: of single
essence. To understand the mystery of this one essence is to be released
from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless
self-essence is reached.

No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless
state. Consider movement stationary, and the stationary in motion: both
movement and rest disappear. When such dualities cease to exist, oneness
itself cannot exist.

To this ultimate finality, no law or description applies. For the unified
mind, in accord with the Way, all self-centered striving ceases, doubts and
irresolution vanish, and life in true confidence is possible. With a single
stroke we are freed from bondage. Nothing clings to us, and we hold to
nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the
mind's power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no
value. In this world of suchness, there is neither self, nor other than
self. To come directly into harmony with this Reality, just simply say,
when doubts arise, "not two." In this "not two," nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering
this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or
space. In it, a single thought is ten thousand years. Emptiness here,
emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.

Infinitely large, and infinitely small--no difference! For definitions have
vanished, and no boundaries are seen. So too with being and non-being.
Don't waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things, move among and intermingle, without distinction. To
live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To
live in this confidence is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is
one with the trusting mind.

Words! The Way is beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday, no
tomorrow, no today.

.............................. end quote ..............................

···

At 10:53 AM 10/12/1999 -0700, Richard Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (991012.1400)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.1531)--

By all accounts, religious experiences are not perceptions that
one can control.

Well, maybe not by _all_ accounts. Indeed, by your own account
religious experiences seem to be manifestly controllable.
Presumably, we can control them by reading stuff like:

They were crossing the bridge, the student asked how deep
the water was, the teacher pushed him in...

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no
preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything
becomes clear and undisguised...

Words! The Way is beyond language, for in it there is no
yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.

People who practice religion (like Buddhism) are controlling
for religious type perceptions. My experience is that most
of this controlling is done by reading, listening to patriarchs,
fasting or performing rituals. If religious experiences were
not controllable then we wouldn't have people like the 3rd
Chinese patriarch of zen trying to tell us (without telling
us;-)) how to control them.

Then you agree that religious experience may be legitimate
subject matter for science, but it is not a subpart of
science

Sure. I'll buy that.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Gregory (991012.1740 EDT)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.1531)

The wise man strives to no
goals, but
the foolish man fetters himself. There is one dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

Clearly the 3rd Patriarch is warning us of the conflicts that arise when
we attempt to control other control systems. HPCT is no doubt the one
dharma and the distinctions he refers to are doubtless associated with
S-R causal thinking. I think we should suggest that he join CSGnet. Do
you know his e-mail address?

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Nevin (991012.2318 EDT)]

Rick Marken (991012.1400)]

--

by your own account
religious experiences seem to be manifestly controllable.
Presumably, we can control them by reading stuff like:

They were crossing the bridge, the student asked how deep
the water was, the teacher pushed him in...

I don't know that being pushed into a river is a way of controlling
anything, but that had to do with "you have to find out for yourself."

"Controlling for" something is not the same as successfully controlling it.
I may want to sing like Placido but my voice won't do that. I may want to
be inspired to write a fantastic poem but inspiration doesn't come on
command or by dint of sweating and grunting.

But the point was that by all accounts, however much you may have
controlled for having a religious experience, the experience itself when it
comes comes unbidden and ends whether you will it or not and for its
duration is not a perception that you control, like a beautiful sunrise,
except those are at least somewhat predictable. And, like sunrise, you
don't have to appreciate it or even take it in, even though it is right
there, a direct experience.

I have no more to say about this.

  Bruce Nevin

···

At 01:55 PM 10/12/1999 -0700, Richard Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (991012.2245)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.2318 EDT) --

But the point was that by all accounts, however much you may have
controlled for having a religious experience, the experience
itself when it comes comes unbidden and ends whether you will
it or not and for its duration is not a perception that you
control, like a beautiful sunrise, except those are at least
somewhat predictable. And, like sunrise, you don't have to
appreciate it or even take it in, even though it is right
there, a direct experience.

Yes. I think a religious experience (like any experience) is
a perception of which you are _aware_. It is a natural, not
a supernatural, phenomenon. It is as much a part of the
PCT model of people as is the experience of a sunrise or
the position of a cursor.

I have no more to say about this.

Oops. I've been pushing on a controlled variable, eh?

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/

[From Bill Powers (991013.0536)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.1531)--

Thanks for the Eastern Nicene Creed. I came across probably the same thing
years ago, and thought how wonderful it seemed. But having experienced a
state of no-mind through the mundane process I now call the method of
levels, I eventually decided that Zen was not for me; I want to be in the
world and enjoy learning about it. I have interpretations of what these
words mean that are probably different from and less awed than the views
held by those who want to treat Zen as a religion or a club of the
enlightened (club having both if its main meanings) -- or something to
aspire to! The irony is that the Great Way says that even to want to follow
the Great Way is an attachment, which will keep you from following it. But
this is just a koan, and when you see through it, you have to realize that
being in the final tranquil state has no value in itself; all value comes
from the Observer being attached to the hierarchy and shaping it to be
useful and self-consistent. Maybe the big insight is that while the higher
levels are sentient, they are by themselves unaware, like a computer.

The first sentence of the quote is

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.

The highest level has no reference signals, this seems to say. It seems to
strive for a goal of zero experience, so that there is zero striving and
zero conflict. That does seem to describe the state I call the Observer.

There is a horrible temptation here to play the guru. By making
grand-sounding general statements that seem to describe something
ineffable, I can create an impression of secret knowledge, as if I have
experienced something beyond the ken of ordinary human beings that I'm
trying to communicate to less blessed creatures. This is every bit as much
a trap as the Christian combination of threats and promises by a
supernatural being who knows your very thoughts and can't be fooled.
Mysticism offers the promise of enlightenment literally without effort, of
achieving the highest goals by doing nothing more than giving up all goals.
And anyone can play. You don't have to claim that you've reached a state of
enlightenment; all you have to do is talk about it as if you know what it
is. The problem is that while you're doing so, inwardly you know you're a
fraud, and if you admitted it that would take all the joy out of seeing how
others act around the guru. So the strategy is just to smile and look
mysterious, and let others draw their own conclusions, and concentrate on
fooling yourself.

I think the one thing that mystics need to understand before all others is
the power of the imagination connection. The brain can provide for itself
literally any imagineable experience. It can supply low-level details and
make these experiences seem completely objective, to the point of total
hallucination. You don't have to be sick or mentally ill for this to
happen; it's perfectly normal in a normal human being. We're constantly
filling in details of experience from imagination; it's how we keep from
being tied up by trivial errors.

We reach the boundaries of sanity when we allow this filling in of details
to substitute for interactions with the world. We start to think that what
_might_ be is what _is_. We go past the edge when we stop reaching out to
feel the ghost and simply accept that it's there. We make the hair on the
back of our heads stand up, we send chills up and down our spines, we
create feelings of awe, and we imagine that the ghost did it. But these are
all experiences of our own manufacture.

Even those who call themselves scientists and are skeptical of their own
observations can manufacture experiences that they think ought to be
happening; every scientist knows how easy it is to shade the meter
reading toward the value one thinks is right. How much more powerful is
human desire when unfettered by demands for skepticism and checking and
double checking and cross checking? When an experiment comes out on the
first try exactly the way a scientist thought it would, the first reaction
you will hear from a _real_ scientist is "Oh, no! That's impossible!" But
if the person at a seance seems to feel a cool breeze, the reaction is
"Uncle Harold? Is that you?" The mundane becomes preposterous; the
preposterous becomes the preferred reality.

Damn. Guru talk again. I give up.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (991013.0657 MDT)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.2318 EDT)--

They were crossing the bridge, the student asked how deep
the water was, the teacher pushed him in...

Bruce:

I don't know that being pushed into a river is a way of controlling
anything, but that had to do with "you have to find out for yourself."

Wasn't pushing the student into the river a way of saying "If you want to
find out how deep it is, you have to do an experiment; you can't find out
just by thinking about it."?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (991013.1007 EDT)]

Rick Marken (991012.2245)

Oops. I've been pushing on a controlled variable, eh?

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who control no variables...."

Try this: Enlightenment is the awareness that you are a
negative-feedback control hierarchy.

Bruce Gregory

[From Chris Cherpas (991013.1133 PT)]

Bruce Gregory (991013.1007 EDT)--

Try this: Enlightenment is the awareness that you are a
negative-feedback control hierarchy.

Not bad for a physicist.

I think the relatively recent development of video
microscopes, that show us the behavior of sub-cellular
life (unlike the electron microscope that could only
show us dead things), is creating a real opportunity
for scientists to explore the unifying principle of
negative-feedback control in all life. (Since there's
so much pre-existing bias in the area of neural
organization, I wouldn't be surprised if chemical
control systems were widely recognized sooner by the
scientific community than the neural models that have
been around for decades in PCT.) An understanding of
negative feedback control at the lowest, chemical levels
of life will no doubt bring many individuals closer to
enlightenment.

Best regards,
cc

[From Rick Marken (991013.1230)]

Bill Powers (991013.0536) --

There is a horrible temptation here to play the guru...This is
every bit as much a trap as the Christian combination of
threats and promises by a supernatural being who knows your
very thoughts and can't be fooled. Mysticism offers the
promise of enlightenment literally without effort,

Damn. Guru talk again. I give up.

I thought it was excellent. Very clear and wise. You can guru
me anytime.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Gregory (991013.1829 EDT)]

Bruce Nevin (991012.2318 EDT)]

"Controlling for" something is not the same as successfully
controlling it.
I may want to sing like Placido but my voice won't do that. I may want to
be inspired to write a fantastic poem but inspiration doesn't come on
command or by dint of sweating and grunting.

If you really were controlling for (intended) to sing like Placido Domingo
you would be experiencing persisting error of the sort that leads to
reorganization. I'd like to be rich, but I'm not controlling for that
perception. It might be that the gain at which I am controlling is
extremely, so it might help to indicate the gain associated with our
intentions.

Bruce Gregory