Sociocybernetics; Words

********* FROM CHUCK TUCKER 930514 **********

     I put the list of statements on the net as part of the conversa-
     tion of the subject of "Boss Reality" and "natural laws" and
     hoped that they would be treated in that context but since I did
     not give instructions that might be the occasion of such taking
     they were treated differently than I intended. Let me give a bit
     of background.

     These statements summarize about two centuries of discussions of
     some epistemological issues and some characterizations of human
     behavior. When I use them I usually give them after I have discussed
     the issues or at the beginning of the semester when I say something
     like: "I hope the you will be able to comprehend some of these
     statements by the end of the semester." Needless to say, most of
     my students do not comprehend and many have the same statements
     about them that I have read on the net lately. I am not surprised
     by what they do; I am disappointed about what I have read on the
     net. I keep expecting too much.

     Perhaps I mistated to Rick my agreement with what Bill stated
     (930513.0600) about my statments on "Boss Reality." What I
     should have said is that I agree with his statements
     which translate the terms "problems," "arrangements," and "self"
     into PCT terms. I also agree with his statements about words as
     in: "Writing the words down on cards and showing them to people is
     NO QUARANTEE that the words will be understood to have the same
     meanings by everyone who reads the cards .... down." I have never
     claimed that words are "precise instruments" so I agree with the
     statement that "Words are not the precise instruments that you
     seem to think they are." IF THERE IS ANYONE WHO THINKS THEY ARE;
     I HAVE HAVE TRIED TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THIS IN ALL THAT I
     HAVE WRITTEN BY USING SUCH WORDS "occasion" FOR HOW WORDS (OR ANY
     OTHER PHYSICAL ACTION) MAY RELATED TO ANY OTHER PERCEPTION.

     I do not agree with Bill's statement "The problem with your views
     on knowledge, theory and so forth is that they are presented
     forcibly as a series of flat statements of fact in a way that
     denies the very thesis you put forth." Part of the difficulty
     could be the "context" I assumed (see above) but another part of
     it is that I never claim any of these statements to be TRUE and
     I would like to have anyone point out to me where in your reading
     of those statements that you locate such a claim. If I have
     claimed that the statements were true then Bill would be correct
     in his statement. Another part of the problem (as it has always
     been) is that we use words differently and as Bill correctly
     notes it does take at least some talk to come to an agreement
     on meanings. For example, about the word 'True' I would note
     "This word lacks accuracy in modern professedly technical uses,
     in that the closer it is examined, it frequently happens, the more
     inaccurate it appears. "Warranted assertion" (Dewey) is one form
     of replacement." This is a partial quote from Chapter Eleven "A
     Trial Group of Names" in Dewey and Bentley's KNOWING AND THE
     KNOWN which summarizes the argument against neorealistic
     positivistic empirical science and proposes a pragmatic view
     (This book is an extention of Dewey's THE LOGIC OF INQUIRY and
      his THE QUEST FOR CERTAINTY which also state the argument)
     I have cited some of these words on the net before but apparently
     they were missed. So we are talking a different language and I
     will be more careful in the future to note those differences. It
     won't guarantee understanding but it may help it.

     I do want to clear one matter up. I have never claimed that words
     have intrinsic meaning. I agree with the statement by Bill that
     "The instruction is not an instruction for an action, but a
     description of a perception to be accomplished by an UNSPECIFIED
     action (WTP 930513.0600)." When I tell myself to accomplish the
     perception of "my arm at a 90 degree angle from my body" I am not
     specifying an action or behavior but a perception which I can
     accomplish in a variety of ways. For example, I could put my
     in front of my body or any variety of angles on the horizontal
     plane and still achieve the perception. The claim that I (or
     Clark, Bob, Danny) would say that words cause behavior is simply
     no so and if that is what anyone is interpreting to be saying
     then change your interpretation or perception. By the way, I
     hope that everyone realizes that the recent CLOSED LOOP contains
     statements which are called instructions to be used by those who
     wish to demonstrate PCT. They won't cause behavior either.

     I was wrong about what Bob Stewart would say after I read to
     him some of statements on the posts by Bill and Rick. He said
     something like "When are they going to get off of these silly ideas
     and begin to do something important." For those for you who
     don't know Bob Stewart, it was he, and I and Clark that found
     BCP together and suggested that we invite Bill to our group
     meeting in 1978 (see Bill's "Control Theory for Sociology" in LCS
     II for his statement from that meeting) and he has been very
     supportive of Bill's ideas since then. He has written a number
     of papers (several with me) where it is noted that Bill is a
     genius and his ideas have great significance. This does not mean,
     of course, that he accepts every statement that is made about
     PCT but in my view he understands it better than several of its
     adherents. But that is a judgment that would take many more
     words to support than I wish to type at this time.

     Regards,
               Chuck

     Afterthought on intrinsic meaning. If you want a direct statement
     rejecting instrinsic meaning of words I refer you to an article by
     McPhail, Powers and Tucker which uses the CROWD program and states
     Mead's view on symbols and significant symbols. It was published
     a social science and computer journal this year.

From Tom Bourbon (930514.0114)

            ********* FROM CHUCK TUCKER 930514 **********

Chuck,

  In this post you said many things about centuries of development of
certain ideas, about how you expected yuor students not to get it but that
PCTers should, about meanings of words like "true," "self," and the like.
I did not see a reply to my request for suggestions about how to revise
plan-driven models and PCT models so that they reverse their relative
positions as predictors and producers of controlled perceptions.

  Please, so that we can all avoid a big misunderstanding, tell us what you
mean when you say:

    These statements summarize about two centuries of discussions of
    some epistemological issues and some characterizations of human
    behavior. When I use them I usually give them after I have discussed
    the issues or at the beginning of the semester when I say something
    like: "I hope the you will be able to comprehend some of these
    statements by the end of the semester." Needless to say, most of
    my students do not comprehend and many have the same statements
    about them that I have read on the net lately. I am not surprised
    by what they do; I am disappointed about what I have read on the
    net. I keep expecting too much.

What do you want to see from your students, and from us, that would convince
you they, and we, "comprehend?" It seems pretty clear that Rick and Bill
and I (the only people to reply to your list) comprehend the statements.

From what you say, your students do, as well. You never told us that these

were throw aways -- statements that have been around a long time, or that
you teach your students all of the statements are wrong or pointless. No
wonder you are disappointed when, at the end of the semester, they still
accept the statements as true.

Before you get too upset with the trio that has challenged these
statements on the net, remember that you did not present them as false. You
simply presented them, then later said you stand by them. Perhaps it is the
case that:

    ... I never claim any of these statements to be TRUE and
    I would like to have anyone point out to me where in your reading
    of those statements that you locate such a claim. ...

But it is also the case that you presented them without introduction or
explanation or disclaimer, and then took offense when we challenged them.

"Foul!"

As for:

    I was wrong about what Bob Stewart would say after I read to
    him some of statements on the posts by Bill and Rick. He said
    something like "When are they going to get off of these silly ideas
    and begin to do something important."

please fill him in on the fact that, perhaps inadvertently, you set us up,
then took a cheap shot. (I am hurt that you did not show him my remarks.)
And fill us in on the things he has been doing on the topic of control
behavior -- we need all the help we can get! You say that:

    ..... He has written a number
    of papers (several with me) where it is noted that Bill is a
    genius and his ideas have great significance. This does not mean,
    of course, that he accepts every statement that is made about
    PCT but in my view he understands it better than several of its
    adherents. But that is a judgment that would take many more
    words to support than I wish to type at this time.

Chuck, I am serious: if you think he understands PCT all that well (I
am in no position to have an opinion either way on the matter), ask him
about how his understanding can be turned into changes in the working model.
At the simple level where I choose to work, that is the way I judge the
relative merits of different "understandings" of PCT.

Regards from a silly friend and a pseudo-scientist.
Until later,
  Tom Bourbon