From[Bill Williams 19 March 2004 1:20 AM CST]
From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.18.2248)]
For anyone that still is not trashing my posts and has some interest in
discussing PCT I would like to present what I think is a very big
problem in understanding PCT and I will use the exchange between Bruce
Nevin and Bill Williams as an example.
When people look, and more importantly _think_, about the control loop,
they tend to think about it _sequentially_; That is, first we perceive,
then it gets compared to a reference level, then an error is produced,
then some corrective action is taken through the environment and is
disturbed and the whole 'cycle' begins again.
From time to time the issue of how the conception of causation has been
mentioned in discussions on the CSGnet.
Behaviorism assumes a causal sequence in time in which a stimulus at
t1 impacts upon an organism t2 and then the organism generates an
effect in t3.
This assumption which is still being depended upon in social theory
contains a difficulty. It isn't with any consistency possible to attribute
any agency to a organism in such a conception of causation. Not that
this necessarily bothers social theorists.
Control theory analysis is based upon a quite different conception of
causation. For sufficiently slow disturbances, causation can be treated
as a relationship that is instantaneous. The determination of the error
as a result of dividing the disturbance by the gain + 1 is an example
of such an instantaneous relationship. In this treatment of causation
there is no difficulty in treating the organism (control system) as an
active agency. However, if you have a pre-Newtonian conception of
causation-- as almost everyone does, this instantaneous treatment of
causation is going to appear very peculiar.
My point in rooting through Kant to find where he describes his conception
of a pre Newtonian conception of change as requiring a causal force,
is to locate this archaic notion of causation at the core of the western
European conception of existence. Since this conception is so deeply
buried in western thought, no wonder there is resistance to adopting a
conception of behavior that is contradictory to it.
So, now I've located this conception in Kant, I suspect that it is either
present in Hume explicitly or implicitly and also in Descartes
I am, however, not having much success in finding material that is
consistent with a modern -- that is at least a Newtonian conception of
causation. My best alternative source so far is John Dewey 1938
_Logic_ and chapter 22 "Sequence and Causation" But, Dewey's
treatment isn't that great, or Dewey's 1896 "The Reflex Arc" Psych
Rev. If anyone knows of treatment of time and causation consistent
with a control theory analysis I would very much like to hear from you.
It may be that an adequate treatment will have to wait until there is
a philosopher who writes from an understanding of control theory.
Kant, Immanuel. 1781 _The Critique of Pure Reason_ New York:
Barnes and Noble Books
"Without entering upon a dry and tedious analysis... p. 90.
"The schema of cause and of the causality of a thing is the
real which, when posited, is always followed by something
else. It consists, therefore, in the succession of the
manifold, in so far as that succession is subject to a
rule." p. 91.
"For there is only _one_ time in which all different times must
be placed, not as coexistent, but as successive. p. 122.
B - Second Analogy
Principles of the Succession of Time According to the
Law of Causality
All changes take place according to the law of the
connection of cause and effect
"All alteration ( succession ) of phenomena is merely change"
" ... the conception which carries with it a necessity of
synthetical unity, can be none other than a pure conception
of the understanding which does not lie in mere perception;
and in this case it is the conception of the relation of cause
and effect, the former determines the latter in time, as its
necessary consequence, and not as something which might
possibly antecede (or which might in some cases not be
perceived to follow). p. 123-24.
" "The Manifold of phenomena is always produced successively
in the mind." "
"From all this it is obvious that the principle of cause and
effect is the principle of possible experience, that is, of
objective cognition of phenomena, in regard to their
relations in the succession of time." p. 131.
"The principle of the relation of causality in the succession
of phenomena is therefore valid for all objects of experience,
because it is itself the ground of the possibility of experience."
"Here, however a difficulty arises, which must be resolved. The
principle of the connecting of causality among the phenomena is
limited in our formula to the succession thereof, although in
practice we find that the principle applies also when the
phenomena exist together in the same time, and that cause and
effect may be simultaneous. p. 132.
"The greater part of operating causes in nature are simultaneous
with their effects, and the succession in time of the later is
produced only because the cause cannot achieve the total of
its effect in one moment. But at the moment when the effect
_first_ arises, it is always simultaneous with the causality
of its cause, because if the cause had but a moment before
ceased to be the effect could not have arisen." p. 133.
"Thus, the law of succession of time is in all instances the
only empirical criterion of effect in relation to the causality
of the antecedent cause." p. 133.
"This conception of causality leads us to the conception of
action; that of action, to the conception of force; and through
it, to the conception of substance." p. 133.
Note Kant connect the concepts of action and force. There is no such
connection in Newton's system. You can have perpetual action without any
involved -- in tje Newtonian system.
Now this doesn't have much, if anything to do with Marc's concern, which is
understand it, involves how do the emotions and immagination connect up
at all the PCT, or HPCT formulation. Myself I have no idea how this might
I don't for sure know what an emotion is, or where it might fit into an
model of behavior.
The methodology of time and causation however, does have something
to say about how transactions ought to be handled. Those who use a
notion of causation always seem to end up violating the equations they them
selves lay down at the beginning of their analysis. Thus you can have things
prior savings resulting in subsequent investment. Which involves breaking
identity in the basic definitions of savings and investment. The end result
which is an analysis that is so complicated that almost no one understands
The result is that old Marxists when they get tired find it easier and more
convincing to go back to the orthodox analysis because it is more
See Peter Small's recomendation of Gintis a few weeks ago. This week a
p[aper arrived here discussing Gintis and his re-conversion to orthodox