Unifying theories of psychology

[from Gary Cziko 920926.0235 GMT]

I have had some disk problems over the last few days and so have not been
able to keep up with CSGnet. If anyone had directed queries to me in
CSGnet traffic, I should be able to get to it in the next couple of days.

Rick Marken:

Here's the kind of argument I'd like you to use in your Blind Men paper.
These quotes come from chapters in a book edited by P. C. W. Davies and J.
Brown (Eds.) (1988), _Superstrings: A theory of everything_? Cambridge
University Press.

"The history of physics is the history of successive stages of unification.
. . . Maxwell unified the laws of electricity and magnetism, and in
addition established a link between electromagnetic field theory and optics
by showing that light consists of electromagneitc waves. Einstein found a
connection between space and time, and energy and mass, and then went on to
link spacetime to gravitation." (Davies & Brown, 1988, p. 8)

"[one] might remark that history shows us that reconciling inconsistent
physical theories is a very good way of making fundamental progress. If we
look at some of the advances in the twentieth century we see that Einstin's
theory of special relativity came from a wish to reconcile two outstanding
theories of the day, namely, Maxwell's theory of electricity and Newtonian
mechanics. Einstein's theory of general relativity likewise came from an
effort to reconcile his own speical relativity with Newtonian gravity.
Finally, quantum field theory came from an effort to reconclie
nonrelativistic quantum mechanics with special relativity. So many of the
most far reaching advances in the twentieth century have come about because
provious theories weren't compatible with one another. History teaches us
that reconciling incompatibilities between theories is a good way to make
really fundamental progress." (Witten, 1988, p. 97)

So you see, Rick, you're in good company in your attempt to reconcile S-R,
reinforcement, and cognitive theory by showing them to be special cases in
PCT. This is why I think that this is such an important paper.

By the way, I got these quotes from a Lev Goldfarb's critique of late Allen
Newell's _Unified theories of cognition_ which appeared in the September
_Brain and Behavioral Sciences_. It seems to me that PCT has it all over
Newell's SOAR approach to unified psychology, but then again I just can't
make much sense of SOAR (I think it would have made more sense to me if I
had read about it before discovering PCT).--Gary


Gary A. Cziko Telephone: (217) 333-8527
Educational Psychology FAX: (217) 333-5847
University of Illinois E-mail: g-cziko@uiuc.edu
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