Sequential PCT

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.

I don't believe this view is _not_ an accurate view and I believe it
causes _much_ confusion. It has often been mouthed, but not very well
understood (by the way people talk about the model) that the loop is
_both_ continuous, nearly instantaneous, and simultaneous. This means
that while _one_ control system is in one state (perceiving, for
example) at any instant in time, another control system will be 'error
correcting', and so on. When you add to this that various _types_ of
control that are going on simultaneously and instantaneously you get a
very complex set of interactions taking place.

Our 'perceptions' are being 'corrected' almost instantaneously, yet we
_also_ have the capacity to _simultaneously_ 'plan' for the future as we
also 'control' for the here and now.

In the exchange between Bill W and Bruce N, they were talking about the
'lack' of an 'input function'. I don't believe this is possible.
Physiologically we _always_ have an active input function whether we are
conscious or not. Please keep in mind I'm saying an active _Nervous_
system, not just a brain. The 'input' may not come from the external
environment (and I don't believe most of it ever does anyway) but you
can't turn your nervous system off. As long as your nervous system is
operating you _will_ be getting input, whether you like it or not.

This is one of the reasons I don't like the hierarchy as currently
configured. It make _no_ allowance for input from an internal source.

Oh sure, Martin Taylor and others have argued that the model does not
_preclude_ this possibility. I certainly don't disagree with that, what
I do disagree with is the _fact_ that the model does not _EXPLICITLY_
(not shouting, just emphasizing) currently handle this. Powers made some
attempt in B:CP in dealing with memory but I don't think the treatment
is adequate to explain the phenomena.

It is my belief that imagination and memory play a huge role in _every_
aspect of control and like the Watsonian behaviorist movement of the
early 20th century PCT has followed in that tradition of discounting
both emotions and memory as things that cannot be studied
'scientifically". If that is the case than I contend that PCT cannot be
studied 'scientifically' as well. It is not simply a matter of 'adding'
a few 'modules' to PCT. The entire model needs to be reworked based on
our understanding of how emotions and imagination are interwoven in the
control process.

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this?

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

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
(explicitly ).

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

        p. 122.

principle one:

  "All alteration ( succession ) of phenomena is merely change"

  p. 123.

  " ... 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."

      p. 132.

      "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
neccesary
connection in Newton's system. You can have perpetual action without any
force
involved -- in tje Newtonian system.

Now this doesn't have much, if anything to do with Marc's concern, which is
if I
understand it, involves how do the emotions and immagination connect up
with if
at all the PCT, or HPCT formulation. Myself I have no idea how this might
work.
I don't for sure know what an emotion is, or where it might fit into an
computer
model of behavior.

The methodology of time and causation however, does have something
important
to say about how transactions ought to be handled. Those who use a
sequential
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
like
prior savings resulting in subsequent investment. Which involves breaking
an
identity in the basic definitions of savings and investment. The end result
of
which is an analysis that is so complicated that almost no one understands
it.
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
comfortable.
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
econmic
analysis.

Bill Williams

From [Michelle Ivers (2004.04.19.1730EST)]

Marc Abrams (2004.04.18.2248)

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this?

What do you think of the idea that perceptions come in and signals go directly to the thalamus then to the amygdala before being compared with references?

If I understand the functions properly then the amygdala adds the emotions/chemicals associated with these emotions to the neural signals.

Would this be a way of including emotions into the loop?

Michelle

[From Bill Powers (2004.04.19.0647 MST)]

Michelle Ivers (2004.04.19.1730EST)

Marc Abrams (2004.04.18.2248)

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this?

What do you think of the idea that
perceptions come in and signals go directly to the thalamus then to the
amygdala before being compared with references?

I see a problem with this, in that perceptual signals are known to exist
in the spinal cord and the brainstem, with two synapses (always) before
signals get to the thalamus. In the brainstem there are sensory nuclei
which look a lot like places where perceptual input functions could
exist, and there are also structures of that nature in the spinal cord.
Furthermore, the spinal and brain-stem “reflexes” are clearly
control systems, so there are two and perhaps even three levels of
control before the thalamic sensory and motor nuclei are
involved.

In support of this picture you can refer to neuroanatomy texts. It is
known that the spinal motor neurons receive excitatory signals (alpha
efferents) from other (higher and contralateral) systems and inhibitory
signals from Golgi tendon receptors which measure muscle tension. The
spinal motor neurons are therefore organized correctly to serve as
comparators for force-control systems (the muscles are the output
functions).

The stretch reflexes involve mechanical comparators in the form of muscle
spindles. The muscle spindles receive signals (gamma efferents) from
higher systems that cause contractions of tiny muscles at the poles of
the spindles, which stretch the central portion where the annulospiral
stretch receptors are located. A contraction of the main muscle in which
the muscle spindle is embedded shortens the whole spindle. The result is
that the spindle acts as a length comparator, with the difference between
main muscle contraction and polar muscle contraction being sensed by the
annulospiral endings. The resulting signals are therefore error signals.
Those signals go to the same spinal motor cells where the tendon force
sensors feed back, only the effect is excitatory rather than inhibitory.
The result is negative feedback and a second level of spinal motor
control (the phasic stretch receptors work in an equally ingenious way,
contributing rate feedback and damping to provide dynamic
stabilization).

This model is diagrammed in B:CP, and agrees with McMahon’s assessment in
1986 or so. It was anticipated in the 1960s by Houk. Judging from recent
papers Isaac Kurtzer has sent me, it does not seem that these basic facts
have changed appreciably since then, although some modern physiologists
think they have discounted these feedback effects…

If I understand the functions properly then the
amygdala adds the emotions/chemicals associated with these emotions to
the neural signals.

As far as I know, neural signals consist only of electrochemical
breakdown phenomena that propagate along axons like a row of dominoes
falling. No domino travels from the cell body to the terminal synaptic
button. Chemicals do not flow along the neurons (except in the link
between hypothalamus and pititary). Rather, the neurotransmitters are
continually being manufactured in the synaptic buttons, accumulating in
vesicles from which they are released when a neural impulse arrives at
the button. They are also reabsorbed into the vesicles from the
intercellular fluid after the impulse is over – all this happening on a
spatial scale measured in fractions of a micron and a time scale measured
in microseconds. So emotions can’t be carried as chemicals in neural
pathways in addition to the trains of impulses that are neural signals.
Nothing actually travels from end to end of an axon. The effect is like
what we see in ocean waves, where the water remains almost stationary
while the wave moves past (individual particles of water move in ellipses
as the wave passes). Or think of The Wave at a foot ball game: The Wave
moves around the statium; the people making it do not.

If “emotional chemicals” are not carried along with neural
signals, then emotions are not anything more than neural signals. In my
theory of emotion, there is really no single physical thing that could be
called an emotion. Instead, there are bodily states of preparedness or
arousal which are partially represented (directly or indirectly) in the
form of neural signals, and there are also desires, intentions, and goals
– reference signals – which define the purposes of our actions. When a
set of goals appears (being set from higher levels in the hierarchy), the
resulting error signals go down through the levels as a cascade of
reference signals of lower and lower order. At about the level of the
thalamus and amygdala, they split into somatic and motor branches. The
somatic branch acts through the autonomic and endocrine systems to alter
the biochemical state of the body, while the motor branch acts
through the systems that, at the lowest level, operate the muscles.
Normally these two branchs operate together, the biochemical state that
is set being appropriate to the motor activities (or lack thereof) being
called for. When this is the case we don’t call the resulting experience
an emotion, but only a heightened (or relaxed) state of being or action.
However, when something prevents the action from correcting the initial
higher-level error signals, or prevents action from even beginning (as in
a conflict), we are left with an unsatisfied goal and a set of
perceptions that result from a highly altered biochemical state of the
body, and that combination is what we call an emotion. We give different
names to different combinations of states, depending on the nature of the
goal and the direction of the change. I’m sure this doesn’t cover every
experience to which we attach the word emotion, but I think it covers a
large part of them.

Of course time will tell which view of emotion is correct. I think the
traditional or mainstream explanations have been greatly influenced by
stimulus-response theory and by the folk theory that emotions somehow get
into us from outside, or are directly caused from outside. They can
certainly appear to be caused from outside if we remain unaware of what
it is that we want and what we are preparing ourselves to do to get it,
but that illusion persists only as long as we remain unaware.

As is often the case in science, what is studied in terms of brain
chemicals is heavily influenced by the theories one brings to such
studies. Theory tells us what to look for, and theory tells us how to
interpret what we observe. Theories, all too often, do not so much emerge
from research as direct it. We find what we expect to find. This, of
course, makes life difficult for anyone who proposes a new theory based
on the same data. And it is a trap of which any theorist with a new idea
must be constantly aware.

I don’t mean to overwhelm you, but I thought you should know that my
theorizing about perceptions, levels of perception, and even emotion have
not been spun entirely out of imagination.

Would this be a way of including emotions into
the loop?

As you can see, emotions never were out of the loop in PCT. This
theory of emotion, not quite so compactly stated, was in the original
book manuscript, of B:CP, but an editor at Aldine decided it was too
speculative and decreed that it be omitted. That chapter, unedited, is
preserved in LCS II.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Nevin (2004.04.19 12:49 EDT)]

Bill Powers (2004.04.19.0647 MST)--

when something prevents the action from correcting the initial
higher-level error signals, or prevents action from even beginning (as in
a conflict), we are left with an unsatisfied goal and a set of perceptions
that result from a highly altered biochemical state of the body

Body states of readiness for action, etc. are themselves sensed. They are
associated with (or evoke) memories of experiences that previously included
such body states. These memories are elaborated into imaginings of what
might be experienced. As experiences are remembered or imagined, body
states change in preparation for action in those experiences. These body
states are themselves sensed together with the prior body states. These
accumulating sensations of body states are associated with (evoke)
memories, which are elaborated into experiences that are anticipated
(expected, anticipated, feared, hoped for) in imagination.

A loop is evident here. Any sensory input (from within the body as well as
from without) that is consistent with a given perception that is imagined
(expected, anticipated, hoped for, feared) adds weight to it. If
physiological preparations for controlling the imagined perceptions (in the
event of appropriate input from the environment) are perceived as body
sensations, and those body sensations evoke memories like those evoked at
the inception of the process, you have a cumulative positive feedback loop.
It is not a control loop. It is an amplifier.

When perceptions in one or more parts of this loop reach sufficient
strength, we become aware of them. Signal strength seems to be one
prerequisite for attention. Increase in readiness for action gives rise to
others. Other factors that help to determine where attention focuses might
include action that disturbs CVs and conflict resisting such action. If the
person is not yet aware of the perceptions that have been concocted out of
memory and imagination, actions to control those perceptions can easily be
inconsistent with control that they are aware of. Fidgeting is an obvious
example, as are the microexpressions noted by Sylvan Tomkins and, more
recently, Paul Eckman.
<http://www.sciencedaily.com/encyclopedia/microexpression>
<http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_08_05_a_face.htm>
Another is things that people don't do "on purpose". The customary
interpretation in PCT has been that these are unintended side effects. But
surprisingly often the consistency with which they are done, and repeated,
and done in such a way as to resist disturbance, suggests that they are
control actions of which the person is not aware. (In common parlance,
"doing it on purpose" is inseparable from awareness, and there is no notion
of unconscious control.)

Tangentially: This is one reason that self-assessments of the CV require
the same verification that an outside observer's guesses require. You
discover what you are controlling not by saying what you want but by seeing
what is in fact protected from disturbance as a consequence of the things
you do and say (and don't do and don't say). Talk is behavior, after all,
and even a careful self-assessment is a means of controlling perceptions.
Stories about what one is controlling may be (or may include) means of
protecting something else from disturbance.

At least three transitions in the loop are poorly specified and probably
controversial: the mechanism for evoking perceptions from memory, the
process of elaborating a set of remembered perceptions into imagined
experiences, and the emergence of perceptions over the threshold of
awareness. I have no doubt that all three of these routinely happen more or
less as I have described, and I believe that with sufficiently careful
introspection any investigator can confirm the operation of this
amplification loop.

         /Bruce Nevin

···

At 07:58 AM 4/19/2004 -0600, Bill Powers wrote:

At 07:58 AM 4/19/2004 -0600, Bill Powers wrote:

If "emotional chemicals" are not carried along with neural signals, then
emotions are not anything more than neural signals. In my theory of
emotion, there is really no single physical thing that could be called an
emotion. Instead, there are bodily states of preparedness or arousal which
are partially represented (directly or indirectly) in the form of neural
signals, and there are also desires, intentions, and goals -- reference
signals -- which define the purposes of our actions. When a set of goals
appears (being set from higher levels in the hierarchy), the resulting
error signals go down through the levels as a cascade of reference signals
of lower and lower order. At about the level of the thalamus and amygdala,
they split into somatic and motor branches. The somatic branch acts
through the autonomic and endocrine systems to alter the biochemical
state of the body, while the motor branch acts through the systems that,
at the lowest level, operate the muscles. Normally these two branchs
operate together, the biochemical state that is set being appropriate to
the motor activities (or lack thereof) being called for. When this is the
case we don't call the resulting experience an emotion, but only a
heightened (or relaxed) state of being or action. However, when something
prevents the action from correcting the initial higher-level error
signals, or prevents action from even beginning (as in a conflict), we are
left with an unsatisfied goal and a set of perceptions that result from a
highly altered biochemical state of the body, and that combination is what
we call an emotion. We give different names to different combinations of
states, depending on the nature of the goal and the direction of the
change. I'm sure this doesn't cover every experience to which we attach
the word emotion, but I think it covers a large part of them.

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.19.1638)]

From [Michelle Ivers (2004.04.19.1730EST)]

What do you think of the idea that perceptions come in and signals go =
directly to the thalamus then to the amygdala before being compared with
= references?

I don't think it works quite that way. Let me try addressing one aspect
of trying to isomorphitize the PCT model to existing physiology
understanding as I know it. _IF_ (Emphasizing, not shouting) control is
present in all living things (and I think it is) than we need to
consider both evolution and lower classes of animals having the
'capacity' to 'compare' and control. This means the 'comparator'
function (if it exists as such) would have to be located in a part of
the brain that _all_ animals have, and have had, since the beginning of
time. I would say that would reside in the brain stem, if anywhere. So
the thalamus or hypothalamus could in fact be the 'comparator', but I
don't think this is so. From _Exploring the Thalamus_ by S. Murray
Sherman & R.W. Guillery, Academic Press 2001 pgs 8 - 10 provide some
interesting background on the workings of the thalamus and too sum it up
in a couple of sentences; they say the thalamus acts as a massive relay
station and they don't have a clue as to why and what is actually being
relayed between the cortex and the spinal cord. One of the big questions
is why does everything seem to relay through the thalamus and not go
directly to the brain? What is being 'relayed' when the signals coming
in do not differ much from what is going out? Much of what is currently
'known' in neuroscience is speculative and subject to change almost on a
daily basis. (I'm exaggerating a bit here :slight_smile: but not by much)

If I understand the functions properly then the amygdala adds the =
emotions/chemicals associated with these emotions to the neural signals.

···

=

Michelle, you can't mix the 'chemicals' with the 'neural' signals to get
some type of stew. :slight_smile: If your suggesting (and I think you are :-)) that
the _combination_ of the two might be responsible for our 'emotions' I
think your right. But I think that this 'combo' takes place in many
different places, at many different times, and for many different
reasons. "Tension" (or error) being _one_ of those times and reasons.

What functions are you speaking of here? PCT functions? If so, please
tell me your interpretation of how the PCT loop matches with our neural
physiology.

Would this be a way of including emotions into the loop?

Sure, but I like to think of emotions as the _result_ of and partial
_cause_ of _every_ control process. To me 'emotions' are on the same
continuum as 'feelings' and 'moods'. What differentiates the three are
intensity & duration.

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.19.1725)]

Bill Williams:

".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.."

Try the Greeks. The enlightenment was simply a rebirth of ancient Greek
thought. Fascinating how it seems out of nowhere in the 6th century BC
'philosophy just seemed to 'pop' up. But of course this is not true.
Humans walked this earth in a somewhat civilized manner for several
thousand years before the heyday of the Greeks, so you could say it was
a long time in coming. :slight_smile:

"And, I thought I was applying control theory. Actually, I still think
that what I have been doing is applied control theory."

Bill, all I'm saying is the CT _must_ explain what is, not what _should_
be or what _could_ be. To me economics is about how people _ACTUALLY_
(not shouting, just emphasizing) do commerce, not what might be the
_best_ or most _efficient_ system. I view economics as a history of
human commerce and human exchange in goods.

The fact that two kids are willing to 'trade' two Mickey Mantle baseball
cards for one Babe Ruth fascinates me, but not because the kid dealing
the Mantle cards is a 'capitalist' and the Ruth kid is a communist or
one of them is an 'x' or one is a 'y'. They are both control systems and
what is fascinating to me is the fact that the kids _desire_ one thing,
are willing to part with something else and _both_ walk away happy
campers. The _fact_ that there are unscrupulous kids who will try to
cheat, swindle, lie, and deceive to get what they want only reinforces,
yes, I said reinforces :slight_smile: the idea that we all are self-centered and
will do whatever it takes to either eliminate tension or 'create'
excitement. _Everything_ else becomes a political and cultural set of
questions.

"But, I owe quite a bit to Bruce Nevin and his explaination of how
equvocation works. We really are creatures who are easy to mislead by a
skillful use of words. And, I owe you for your demonstration of how
very effective the "magic" words really are."

I'm not so sure I like this 'compliment'. :slight_smile: But you are right. They do
work quite nicely. I like to think of them as 'ear perkers'. It also
eliminates any ambiguity about what is intended.

Maybe sometime we can share a pig.

Sounds like a plan. :slight_smile:

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

From[Bill Williams 19 April 2004 5:50 PM CST]

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.19.1725)]

>
the idea [IS] that we all are self-centered .....

_Everything_ else becomes a political and cultural set >of questions.

All such the questions and answers , your formulation included are
"political and cultural " in character.

So, are the various conceptions concerning the "self."

There exist a variety of ways in which this and similar questions have been
defined. I would prefer to employ
control theory in generating a better answer to such issues rather than in
propping-up older conceptions with well know internal contradictions
and other deficiencies.

Bill Williams

[From Bill Powers (2004.04.20.0500 MS)]

Bruce Nevin (2004.04.19 12:49 EDT) --

Body states of readiness for action, etc. are themselves sensed. They are
associated with (or evoke) memories of experiences that previously included
such body states. These memories are elaborated into imaginings of what
might be experienced. As experiences are remembered or imagined, body
states change in preparation for action in those experiences. These body
states are themselves sensed together with the prior body states. These
accumulating sensations of body states are associated with (evoke)
memories, which are elaborated into experiences that are anticipated
(expected, anticipated, feared, hoped for) in imagination.

I think there is much to agree with here, including the conclusion that
this situation is fraught with the potential for positive feedback (I'm
afraid that I'm going to be afraid again so I'm scared of the roller
coaster). Memories of past emotions surely play a part in the way we value
experiences. And if we have feelings about having feelings, the possibility
for obsession with emotions is definitely there, obsession being another
form of positive feedback.

If there is positive feedback involved the feelings will be, as you say,
amplified, but unless the degree of positive feedback is enough to generate
a complete runaway effect, turning off the source of the emotion will still
turn off the emotion. The old word for positive feedback was
"regeneration," the principle of the radio-frequency oscillator invented
somewhere around 1900. The difference between regenerative amplification
and self-sustained regenerative oscillations can be a matter of a few
percent difference in the amount of positive feedback. Once there is enough
positive feedback for the action to sustain itself, no further input is
required.

This is obviously a pathological condition because a system in full
positive-feedback runaway can no longer control anything. But this is not a
subtle effect, like "fidgiting" or "microexpression." Subtle effects are
almost by definition small effects, and while they may indicate some
conflict, it's not likely that they are in themselves a serious problem. I
think we have to consider the big effects before we devote too much
attention to the little ones. Runaway positive feedback is not, I think, a
feature of most normal behavior.

I have to come back, therefore, to the central question, which is what
drives the feelings in the first place. The conventional view has developed
into a full-blown scenario, in which there are parts of the brain that
monitor experience for evolutionarily-important phenomena and create
arousal and other preparations for action automatically, before the more
modern structures get involved: the man riding the horse riding the
alligator. But this story is largely imaginary and is, I think, susceptible
to alternative interpretations, of which my theory of emotion is one -- or
I should say, "of which theories of emotion like mine are instances," since
this is hardly a unique theory.

Emotion makes a lot more sense to me when put into the context of a
hierarchy of control systems rather than stimulus-response "reactions". The
feelings are not the key to understanding emotions. I think that the true
explanation arises from considering what it is we want, and how near we are
to getting it. The normal state of a functioning, properly-designed control
system is one of almost zero error. Even the smallest error leads to
actions that are large enough to prevent the error from becoming
significant. Thus perceptions normally track our changing reference signals
quite closely; if they don't, it's because we don't consider the errors
important enough to devote much energy to correcting them.

Very large actions can result from small errors, if that is what is
required to prevent disturbances from having significant effects. This, of
course, requires expenditure of more than normal levels of energy, and that
in turn calls for cranking up the biochemical systems to support the higher
level of activity, if it's sustained. But we don't usually call such states
of heightened preparedness by emotion-names, although we may call them
pleasant if asked.

The worst emotions arise, I think (and I'm speaking mainly from experience
here, not theory, I hope) when the errors in our control systems become
very much larger than normal, so large that there's no problem with
distinguishing the feeling state from mere "heightened activity." They're
the kind of error that indicates loss of control. They're way above the
normal range of intensities; not small, subtle effects but great big ones.

What is a person likely to be doing when a huge error appears in the midst
of a structure of normally small errors? I think the description would be
exactly what we say about people who are being "driven by strong emotions."
Only that description is inaccurate: while strong emotions are indeed
occurring, they are not doing the driving; they are being driven by large
errors. They are simply part of the means by which we try to correct large
errors. If it were not for the large error signals, there would be no
strong (negative) emotions.

So when we experience strong emotions, what we are experiencing consciously
is a sign that some control system inside us is trying to correct a very
large error. We may not know immediately what it is -- awareness does not
encompass all that is going on in the brain at any moment. As you point
out, we may have to do something like the Test on ourselves to discover
which control system it is, what it is controlling. This can be hard to do
if one set of subsystems (at a high enough level to be called congnitive)
is determined to prevent acknowledgement that such variables are even being
controlled. One of the things that happens during the Method of Levels is
that one stumbles across such things when stepping back to view some
innocuous-seeming thought.

All this is, as they say, "not inconsistent" with traditional views of the
functions of the amygdala, hypothalamus, autonomic system, and endocrine
system. The characters in the story are all familiar. But the plot is
totally different; what looks like cause in one story is effect in the
other, and in fact, in my story, cause and effect have become wrapped
around into a circle, the circle that we here have come to know and love.

Best,

Bill P.

From [ Marc Abrams (2004.04.20.0949)]

From[Bill Williams 19 April 2004 5:50 PM CST]

All such the questions and answers , your formulation included [,] >are

"political and cultural " in character.

So, are the various conceptions concerning the "self."

Yes, and everything is made up of atoms, but we do have the science of
chemistry for looking at the properties of molecules in ways that other
sciences do not. That is not to say that the study of molecules is not
important or necessary say in the study of biology, only that chemistry
focuses in specifically in this area.

One can study human behavior from any number of different angles, all
equally valid and important and when done so all the theories should be
consistent because human behavior, I believe, has a very simple
'purpose' and it's spelled out in PCT. HOW this control actually works
and what the components and mechanisms of the process actually are, in
my mind is very much up for grabs.

There exist a variety of ways in which this and similar questions have
been defined. I would prefer to employ control theory in generating a
better answer to such issues rather than in propping-up older
conceptions with well know internal contradictions and other
deficiencies.

Where do you see me differing from this view?

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

From[Bill Williams 20 April 2004 9:50 AM CST]

From [ Marc Abrams (2004.04.20.0949)]

>From[Bill Williams 19 April 2004 5:50 PM CST]

Where do you see me differing from this view?

When you say as your starting point that human nature is selfish, you are
adopting an axiom that has been studied for sometime. For the past century
it has been operationalized using a principle of maximization.

Now you are proposing to consider economics in terms of this axiom of
selfishness using control theory. However, it has been understood for some
time that a society can not run when based only upon self interest. So,
what ever assumptions you place under this axiom, the result is the same.

A self in isolation-- the sort of isolation that is imposed by self-interest
isn't really human. And, even if such a self could function in isolation,
this sort of self could not be the basis for civilization.

So, what can be the point of starting from where you are starting?

Bill williams

[From Bruce Nevin (2004.04.20 14:46 EDT)]

Bill Powers (2004.04.20.0500 MST, actually 04:16 AM by the timestamp)--

Runaway that escalates to the point of disrupting ability to control is
obviously the exception.

turning off the source of the emotion will still
turn off the emotion.

And end the runaway feedback, yes, albeit noting that in this view of
things there may be no single source of "the emotion".

Some essentials of the scenario that I sketched in my (2004.04.19 12:49 EDT)
are slipping out of sight here:

This sketch suggests how other neurochemicals can diffuse the effect of
error more broadly through the body. Diffuse really seems to be an apt
descriptive term, if these substances spread through the blood, lymphatic
system, and tissues. In response your objection (2004.04.19.0647 MST to
Michelle) that "emotions can't be carried as chemicals in neural pathways
in addition to the trains of impulses that are neural signals", this effect
does not directly accompany or follow along with neural transmission. As
you say, the neurotransmitters are local and short-lived (reabsorbed), but
we are talking here about broader and more "soupy" effects.

One consequence is that any runaway process of this sort has a longer lag
time. It is also more diffuse. An elementary control system (ECS) that
begins to control an imagined variable need have no direct neural
connection to the part of the hierarchy in which error earlier resulted in
chemical changes in the cellular environment in the body. This is why in
the typical case the amplification is insufficient for awareness, hence
microexpressions and unconscious fidgeting.

It is possible to practice and develop skill at becoming aware of
sensations in the body more immediately as effectors prepare to control
real or imagined variables, instead of becoming aware only when they clamor
for attention, as it were. Among other things, this results in what might
be called greater equanimity, and also in a reduction of fidgeting etc.

Marc Abrams (2004.04.20.0943)--

Be careful here Bruce.

I'm trying.

Yes, cognitively we 'remember' certain states.
But memory plays no part in any number of other physiological control
systems that contribute to emotions and feelings.

That's a bald assertion. Are you prepared to prove a negative? If there are
some systems where reference values are not stored in memory, then perhaps
those systems do not participate in this sort of process. I see no
substantial counterargument here.

Be careful to distinguish "remembering", which involves awareness, from
memory in general.

BOTH types of control are taking place simultaneously, and both contribute
to our emotions or feelings.

What are the two types of control that you're talking about?

What stops the positive feedback?

The positive feedback is not a matter of a single signal increasing in
strength within a simple loop, it is a matter of recruiting more ECSs in
controlling imagined variables or real somatic states. The positive
feedback can be attenuated in various ways. The ECS that was the original
source of error can start to control successfully, and if it is early
enough in the process the ripple effect dies down. If the effect has built
up in the echo chamber of the body sufficiently that the average Joe Schmoe
is aware of what he calls an emotion, it can be attenuated by Joe
deliberately attending to actual body sensations, letting the imagined and
remembered hopes and fears go by like scenes out a bus window without
dwelling on them and just paying attention to actual real-time sensations
in the body. Or Joe can engage in some physical activity that requires
enough attention that he to some extent does the same thing, letting the
imagined perceptions arise and die away without dwelling on them. That's
why sports, gardening, jogging, and the like are felt to be therapeutic.
The positive feedback attenuates naturally in most situations because of
the diffuse character of its mechanism. Something has to be "bothering you"
(engaging your control in imagination) for you to inflict this kind of
thing on yourself.

Do you really believe you can turn your 'feelings' off and on at will?

No. But I can watch them swell up and subside, like standing in the surf.

Do you really believe you have full cognitive control over how you feel?

I have control over the effect of feelings on me. How much skill I have, or
how effectively I control on a given occasion, is another variable.

I will be doing some research into these questions with two researchers

Looking forward to your reports.

         /Bruce Nevin

···

At 04:16 AM 4/20/2004 -0600, Bill Powers wrote:
At 09:46 AM 4/20/2004 -0400, Marc Abrams wrote:

[From Michelle Ivers (2004.04.21.1930 EST)]

[From Bill Powers (2004.04.19.0647 MST)]

I don’t mean to overwhelm you, but I thought you should know that my theorizing about perceptions, levels of perception, and even emotion have not been spun entirely out of imagination.

Thanks for your really lengthy response to my question. I’m not sure why you thought it necessary to justify yourself. (I never commented about your theorising about perceptions). It’s also presumptuous of you to think that you would overwhelm me. Do you think I’m incapable of comprehending your books?

I asked you for an opinion a few days ago about chemicals in the brain (I believe you ignored that email, as no response was received by me).

I was wondering if you are familiar with Dr Joseph LeDoux? If you have a look at his website www.cns.nyu.edu/home/ledoux it will explain what I so clumsily tried to ask about.

Regards

Michelle

[From Bill Powers (2004.04.21.0719 MST)]

Michelle Ivers (2004.04.21.1930 EST)

···

Thanks for your really
lengthy response to my question. I’m not sure why you thought it
necessary to justify yourself. (I never commented about your theorising
about perceptions). It’s also presumptuous of you to think that you
would overwhelm me. Do you think I’m incapable of comprehending your
books?

I wasn’t writing for you alone, and I’m sorry if you were offended by my
apology for writing so lengthily on a short question. As to comprehending
my books, very few people understand everything in them (especially
B:CP) on the first reading. Perhaps you did.

I asked
you for an opinion a few days ago about chemicals in the brain (I believe
you ignored that email, as no response was received by
me).

This is what I sent five days ago:

==========================================================================

[From Bill Powers (2004.04.16.0730 MST)]

Michelle Ivers (2004.04.16.0900EST) –

I’d like to hear your views on chemical mixes in the brain.

I missed your post but saw Martin Taylor’s reply.Brain chemicals,as I
understand them, are produced primarily by neurons, and are the only
means of coupling transmitted neural signals to the next neurons in a
neural circuit. There is also diffusion of the chemicals away from the
synapses (though a large fraction of them is re-absorbed into the
emitting synapse, and more is metabolized away). The stuff that leaks out
into the intercellular fluid probably has some effect on biasing the
operation of other nearby neurons.

I will freely admit to a large degree of ignorance on this subject,
however,

and my impressions might be totally wrong.

There’s a serious chicken-and-egg problem here, as in the whole
discussion of

emotions. Since thoughts go on concurrently with feelings, and feelings
are

at least in large part sensations arising from biochemical effects (and
their

consequences) in the body rather than the brain, and the biochemical
effects

are strongly influenced by the brain, it’s a little hard to tell which
comes

first. And it may be as pointless to ask which comes first as it is to
ask

which part of a control loop acts first.

I think that as control theorists we have to keep in mind that those
who

study brain chemistry are trained to think in terms of cause and effect,
and

tend to stop tracing causes when they find a chemical precursor. But if
you

keep asking for causes in a living control system, you come sooner or
later

(and considering levels of organization, both sooner and later) to
the

effect you started trying to explain. Does lack of serotonin cause

schizophrenia, or does schizophrenia cause lack of serotonin? A
biochemist

will say the former, a trait psychologist the latter, and a control
theorist

neither.

Best,

Bill P.

=========================================================================

I was
wondering if you are familiar with Dr Joseph LeDoux? If you have a
look at his website
www.cns.nyu.edu/home/ledoux
it will explain what I so clumsily tried to ask
about.

That’s a very useful diagram, and I
recommend that everyone have a look at it. It shows the traditional
stimulus-response view of emotion better than I could describe it,
complete with dynamically bulging eyeballs. By the way, this web page
causes error halts in both Mozilla Firefox and Netscape, but runs OK in
Internet Explorer. Conspiracy theorists take note.

Notice that this diagram is completely consistent with my theory of
emotion, if you only add in the rest of the HPCT structure that is not
shown. A signal comes in from the eyes, reaching the thalamus
(intervening intensity and sensation levels of perception and control not
shown). The configuration of a rattlesnake is recognized (but not named)
at this level (third order perceptions, as hypothesized in B:CP). The
reference signal (not shown) for perceiving the rattlesnake
configuration has been set by higher systems (not shown, though a
perceptual input to the visual cortex is shown) to a low value. This
results in an error signal which is sent both to the systems for
preparing the body to act (the amygdala, hypothalamus, and pituitary, the
last two not shown) and the motor systems (not shown). Also not
shown are the pathways by which the higher centers in the brain sense the
change in bodily state as well as the efforts to jump away, and perceives
the combination as an emotion – classifying it as “fear,”
perhaps. That would happen after these lower-order systems have acted or
at least started to act.

Anyway, that’s my translation of this diagram.

Best,

Bill P.

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.21.1103)]

From[Bill Williams 20 April 2004 9:40 AM CST]

Be careful here Bruce.

Marc, do you realize just how very offensive this is as a way of

starting a discussion.

Huh? I said;

"Be careful here Bruce. Yes, cognitively we 'remember' certain states.
But memory plays no part in any number of other physiological control
systems that contribute to emotions and feelings. BOTH types of control
are taking place simultaneously, and both contribute to our emotions or
feelings."

What is it you find 'distasteful' about this?

I'm _real_ curious to know what you think I meant by saying those words?
What did you think my intent was?

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.21.1112)

From[Bill Williams 20 April 2004 9:50 AM CST]

When you say as your starting point that human nature is selfish, you

are adopting an axiom that has been studied for sometime. For the past
century it has been operationalized using a principle of maximization.

Actually Bill, it's been known at least since the time of the ancient
Greeks. Epicurism and Stoicism were two of many different philosophy's
that were adopted in trying to to deal with, and understand this very
basic of human traits.

Now, you may like it, dislike it, want to change it, or leave it alone.
In any event you have to deal with it.

Now you are proposing to consider economics in terms of this axiom of

selfishness using control theory.

Not quite accurate. I'm proposing that we consider _human behavior_ in
terms of this axiom. 'Economics' of course being a major contributor to
our source of knowledge. But no more or less important than History,
Politics, and any number of other human endeavors.

However, it has been >understood for some time that a society can not

run when based only upon self interest.

Understood by whom? My history books tell me quite a different story.
But you really don't fully understand my position. 'Self-Interest' takes
_many_ forms. A very good example of 'self-interest' took place here in
NYC yesterday. In the morning paper the front page headline was a story
of a very brave 8 year old leukemia victim who at this point was too
weak to even open her eyes. She won an award for writing a heart
rendering story of love and compassion and a determination to beat this
leukemia. I actually started crying myself when I read the story. Now
the usual feeling would be I cried because I felt 'bad' for the young
girl and that would be accurate, but _why_ did I feel bad? I think I
felt bad because I have a daughter too, and I am not in the best of
health myself. This story struck close to home. I wanted to reach out
and tell her _never_ too give up and in doing so was also reaching out
to myself and hoping my daughter would never find herself in the same
position. To me Bill, this is also "self-interest". I felt bad because I
_related_ to her pain and that of her mother. "Self-Interest" is not
always about "screwing" the other guy. Compassion is _ALL_ about
'self-interest'. If there is no connection between you and the other
person, there is no compassion. Give it some thought. Or is saying this
offensive as well?

So, what ever assumptions you >place under this axiom, the result is

the same.

A self in isolation-- the sort of isolation that is imposed by

self-interest isn't really human. And, even if such a self could
function in >isolation, this sort of self could not be the basis for
civilization.

I ask you to reconsider. You mix-up 'isolation' and 'self-interest'.
They do not represent the same things. We have sex Bill because of
'self-interest', _not_ because we are looking to help someone else, and
although sex with oneself might be ok I find it more fun while
_sharing_. I can say the same for conversations as well.

So, what can be the point of starting from where you are starting?

I'll leave that up to you to figure out for yourself. For you there may
be no reason at all for you too start here and that's ok. After all you
do have your own self-interests to attend to and so do I. :slight_smile:

Marc

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have
been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who
are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something
different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

Thomas Sowell

···

Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 09:59:40 -0500

From[Bill Williams 21 April 2004 1:30 PM CST]

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.21.1103)]

>>From[Bill Williams 20 April 2004 9:40 AM CST]

> Be careful here Bruce.

>>Marc, do you realize just how very offensive this is as a way of
starting a discussion.

Huh? I said;

So, your answer is no, you didn't understand how offensive inserting an
accusation of carelessness is as a way of framing a discussion. Furthermore
it seems that you are not interested in being less offensive.

OK.

Bill Williams

From[Bill Williams 21 April 2004 1:30 PM CST]

From [Marc Abrams (2004.04.21.1112)

Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 09:59:40 -0500

>From[Bill Williams 20 April 2004 9:50 AM CST]

>When you say as your starting point that human nature is selfish, you
are adopting an axiom that has been studied for sometime. For the past
century it has been operationalized using a principle of maximization.

Actually Bill, it's been known at least since the time of the ancient
Greeks. Epicurism and Stoicism were two of many different philosophy's
that were adopted in trying to to deal with, and understand this very
basic of human traits.

Now, you may like it, dislike it, want to change it, or leave it alone.
In any event you have to deal with it.

I , however, don't have to deal with your version of this, as you say,
ancient conception.

I world advise anyone interested in this to consult George Stigler's version
of his ancient creed.

Bill Williams

[From Michelle Ivers (2004.04.23.1840EST)]

From Bill Powers (2004.04.21.0719 MST)

I wasn’t writing for you alone, and I’m sorry if you were offended by my apology for writing so lengthily on a short question. As to comprehending my books, very few people understand everything in them (especially B:CP) on the first reading. Perhaps you did.

What made you think I was offended by your apology? I thanked you for your reply.

Yet again making assumptions here Bill. Who said I’d read your books only once?

This is what I sent five days ago:

Thank you for that email. I may be wrong here but I would say that none of those emails you sent came through to CSGNet. The one you sent to Rick (that he posted in his recent email) was not received by me either. (reading it in Rick’s email was the first time I’d seen it). You also made a cryptic comment about Rick pointing out the wrong email address… perhaps this was the problem?

I’m glad you liked the diagram at Dr LeDoux’s site. It’s a shame that he is S-R orientated. He otherwise might have been on the right track.

One more observation. “Dog poop” ??? Is that the best you could come up with?? I work with 9 year old kids who have a larger repertoire of curse words than that. :wink:

Cheers

Michelle

···

From Bill Powers (2004.04.23.0840 MST)]

[From
Michelle Ivers (2004.04.23.1840EST)]

From Bill Powers (2004.04.21.0719 MST)

I wasn’t writing for you alone, and I’m sorry if you were offended by
my apology for writing so lengthily on a short question. As to
comprehending my books, very few people understand everything in
them (especially B:CP) on the first reading. Perhaps you did.

What made you think I was offended by your
apology? I thanked you for your reply.

Yet again making assumptions here Bill. Who said I’d read your books only
once?

What you said that made me think you were offended by my apology for my
lengthy response was this:

Thanks
for your really lengthy response to my question. I’m not sure why
you thought it necessary to justify yourself. (I never commented about
your theorising about perceptions). It’s also presumptuous of you
to think that you would overwhelm me. Do you think I’m incapable of
comprehending your
books?
One more observation.
“Dog poop” ??? Is that the best you could come up
with?? I work with 9 year old kids who have a larger repertoire of
curse words than that. :wink:

It sounded to me as if you thought I was presumptious to think you would
be overfwhelmed by so much detail, and as though you were insulted by an
implication (which I didn’t intend) that you’re incapable of
comprehending my books… If I’ve misinterpreted what you meant, I
apologize again. I shouldn’t have said “on first
reading.”

It seems to me that I’m doing an awful lot of apologizing to you. Why so
prickly?

I’m sorry for saying dog poop. Oops, there I said dog poop again, sorry
… I think I’m stuck in a loop. Sorry. I hope I haven’t offended
you by apologizing too much, or by saying dog poop – damn, there is it
again. Sorry.

Best,

Bill P.

···

At 02:51 AM 4/23/2004, you wrote: