[from Mary Powers 960915]
Bruce Abbott (various posts)
It seems to me that the problem with a book like Simon's is that
it leaves you with a delicious sense of having had everything
explained without really explaining anything.
...If the inner environment is properly designed...
Indeed. And what might a proper design be?
...it will be adapted to the environment...
Oh, thank you, Dr. Simon. That explains it all.
To predict how it will behave, we need only ask "how would a
rationally designed system behave under these
Are the systems we are talking about "rationally designed"? I am
inclined to think they evolved by the process of blind variation
and selective retention.
Is behavior predictable? Your system, rationally designed or
not, is not my system. That jay out there, bugging the cat,
flies away by flapping its wings. The man who put a new roof on
our house this summer goes out to the county airport and takes
off in his little plane. I call my travel agent. We all intend
to fly, but our behavior varies in order for each of us to do so.
And each of us will vary our detailed behavior each time.
The real problem is that "how it will behave" means to Simon "in
what way will it behave". To which he answers, in the way a
rationally designed system would behave. Which is question-
begging of the highest order.
"How" means not only "in what way" but "by what means". That is
the question PCT is aimed at answering: what kind of organization
or mechanism can attain its goals, produce purposive,
disturbance-resisting behavior, in an environment that constrains
and varies. What Simon has to say is simply irrelevant.