Up a level, social phenomena

[From Rick Marken (930504.1500)]

Tom Bourbon (930503.1115)--

Yes, but ... . Going up a level is not always easy.

I know that it's not and I would like to understand why this
is the case. I have a hell of a time doing it (or even think-
ing of doing it) but once I'm able to do it, everything seems so
much easier. Suddenly there are options (the possible settings of
lower level goals) instead of constraining requirements (the
higher level goals that seem like givens until you get up "above"
them). Why is this hard to do? I have one hypothesis: perhaps it's
becuase consciousness tends to take the point of view of the systems
that are experiencing the greatest amount of error. These systems
will often be the one's that are in conflict -- so consciousness
is directed at the world from the point of view of these con-
flicted systems instead of from the point of view of the systems
that are creating the conflict (by sending incompatible references
to the conflicted systems). So the apparent "resistence" to going
up a level (and becoming conscious from the point of view of the
systems causing the conflict) is really just the natural (and,
usually, helpful) tendency of consciousness to deal with (direct
reorganization to?) systems experiencing error. Going up a level
(or down one, for that matter) when there is a conflict requires
the ability to "ignore" the error, which is apparently difficult
to do.

Bruce Nevin (Mon 93053 12:52:50)--

And any
reference perception that is socially standardized or calibrated
by individuals for conformity to a community norm is, by the very
processes of teaching/learning/acquiring/calibrating over time,
historically contingent.

I think it's time for Tom Bourbon to describe one of his social
psychology experiments on the net. Tom's experiments show very
clearly that social phenomena (phenomena that result from the
coordinated efforts of two or more people) do NOT necessarily
depend on concensual setting of reference signals. Rather, such
phenomena can be the result of individual systems controlling
perceptions relative to references that are set with no consideration
at all of the possible goals (references) of others: this is what is
also demonstrated (in model form) by the Gatherings program -- very
complex social phenomena result from completely non-social references.

Tom's experiments demonstrate the phenomenon of "cooperation" but the
same principles unquestionably apply to other social phenomena -- such
as conversations, couples dancing, riots, etc. In one of Tom's experiments,
two people cooperate to keep three lines equally spaced on a computer
display. This result can only be achieved if the subject's coordinate
their efforts and control different aspects of the display; ie. the
subjects must set different references in order to cooperate. I believe
that the subject's typically discovered the cooperative solution without
any communication -- ie. they didn't say "you control this while I control
that". Thay discovered, individually, that in order to produce the
results each one wanted individually (equal spacing between the lines)
they had to control a particular aspect of the display. But this was
definitely a cooperative solution -- there was no unilateral solution
that would work. So if I controlled what would turn out to be the "right"
aspect of the display for a cooperative result and the other person
didn't, I would not get equal spacing between the lines.

Social phenomena are interesting because they involve the
interaction of several, seperately housed control systems. But they
can be understood as the result the control systems controlling their
own perceptual variables; that is, no special "social" processes are
needed to explain social phenomena.



Hi, Chuck. Thanks for the forwarded note. I will soon be informing the
net that people trying to keep straight lines on a computer screen is not
social interaction in any meaningful sense. It stacks the deck to the point
of absurdity in terms of personal control. Ken