Violent Hal;why categories?;Depression

[From Bill Powers (931025.1630 MDT)]

Hal Pepinsky (931025.1200) --

The substance of our decisions is unpredictable, just as the
position of the next dot appearing on a Poincare cross-section
of a strange attractor is appears randomly. But the
"democratic" process by which the random output appears is
quite systematic, and crystallizes into what we know as a
feeling of "community"--of social belonging. So it is a
systematic way of producing random results.

No, it is a random way of producing systematic results. If the
result is reliably a feeling of communality, then that is a
consistent systematic result. The random "decisions" continue to
be made until a feeling of community results, at which point the
crystallization has occured and reorganization can, for the time
being, cease (if it continued the result would begin wandering
away from a sense of community into something else again).

As to Poincare cross sections of strange attractors, that is
trendy nonsense and is irrelevant. Wash your mouth out with soap.

That's why penal codes make no damn sense. People will only
discover what to do with an offender in a just world after they
have gotten input from the offender and others involved. And
the offender will help define the result by his or her input.
Hence, the proper response to a crime is unpredictable within
the systematic, or "due" process I propose as an alternative
control system.

Hear, hear! "Offenders" are created the moment you define
"offenses." The penal system makes no sense at all to me, either.

ยทยทยท

----------------------------

My great friend and renowned crime statistician, Les Wilkins,
used to say all the time that the only models of social reality
which work are stochastic.

Up to recently that has been true. It is no longer true (see
Clark McPhail's post).
----------------------------------

For instance, I readily perceive all lecturing to be
violent.

You can perceive anything as anything else if you're determined
to do so. Not that I'm all that fond of lectures.
----------------------------------

I readily see that it conveys a functional equivalent of the
message a parent sends by spanking a child. I do that only by
comparing results across at least two models of control, yours
and the one I'm adding.

No, you do it by using your imagination and free-associating in a
way designed to support your prejudices. I don't think you do it
by comparing results across two models of control. You don't know
how to test models and you haven't added any model.

So do friends when asked to think of some scene in which your
ring of fifteen naturally occurs.

Then your friends are in the same kind of one-track groove as
you. Maybe that's how you pick your friends. There are lots of
nonviolent examples of "rings", such as children gathering around
the Good-Humor man or peace workers gathered around the guy
singing with a guitar. You see violence everywhere if you have
prepared yourself to perceive nothing else. The fact that you CAN
interpret something that way shows only that you CAN. It doesn't
show that other interpretations aren't equally valid. It just
reveals what's on your mind.

By the way, police who drive down ghetto streets routinely see
threat and violence implied simply by kids forming rings on
streetcorners.

Yeah, police can jump to conclusions, too. Are they your role
models?
------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce Nevin (931025) --

I haven't studied your diagrams fully, but you conclude with an
excellent question:

What evidence is there for a category level other than words?
The fact that you need them for programs, etc. doesn't mean
much to me, PIFs at that level will accomplish what you need
for that.

As you know, I've been on and off about a specific category
level. The answer to your question, if there is one, rests on
asking what good having a category level would do an organism in
which that level is the highest one. How does perceiving in
categories rather than always perceiving specific relationships,
events, etc. provide abilities that are useful in themselves? If
there is an answer that can be given in terms of NON_VERBAL
categories, then the fact that categories provide a means of
naming is simply a happy side-effect, of no use in itself until
higher levels develop to work in terms of symbols. Doesn't
Stephen J. Gould talk somewhere about this effect in evolution?

To boil this down to a specific question: why would a species
develop the ability to perceive any one of an arbitrary set of
otherwise unrelated perceptions as being examples of "the same
thing?"
--------------------------------------------------------------
Avery Andrews (931026.0621) --

Another thought about depression: my `active' theory of
depression (that it's reorganization at something like the
Principle level) seems counter-intuitive because people don't
normally think of depression as being a process with a
function, but as a useless state that you just fall into.

Depression and reorganization at the principle level might well
go together, but I think you're collapsing the situation too far.
Why is reorganization going on at the principle level? Very
likely, it's because of a conflict. The conflict effectively
freezes all the dependent lower-level systems in the same tree,
presenting them with fixed reference levels instead of the usual
labile ones that change appropriately to circumstances. This is
the state known as depression, I submit. The feeling of
depression AND the reorganization are a consequence of the
conflict. If all goes well, the reorganization will alter the
systems in conflict and remove the conflict, thus removing the
depression, too, and of course stopping the reorganization.

The feeling of grief can be seen as a conflict between the
natural desire to protest and combat the idea that people do die
and go away forever, and the knowledge that there is no use in
pressing the protest and nobody to protest to. The urge to action
is simply suppressed by your rational systems as being futile.
When you are in a continual state of suppressed desire to act,
you feel depressed. Even your body goes into a state of
unreadiness to act.

Reorganization should eventually fix the problem. But as I said
recently, you can learn to avoid thinking and doing things that
expose you to strong intrinsic error signals. Any state like
depression, if it is chronic and isn't soon corrected by natural
reorganization, is probably being maintained by avoiding pain or
whatever might trigger reorganization. People really don't help
each other with advice like "Try to get your mind off it" or "Try
to forget it." The point of useful grieving is to feel the
conflict and reorganize out of it. You have to give the
irrational desire its way, and go ahead and weep and plead with
the person to come back, come back, while also knowing with
perfect clarity that this is not going to happen. And feel
perfectly awful. Then reorganization will start and the
neccessary changes will slowly be made.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Best to all,

Bill P.

[From: Bruce Nevin (Tue 931026 10:08:31 EDT)]

(Bill Powers (931025.1630 MDT)) --

The answer to your question, if there is one, rests on
asking what good having a category level would do an organism in
which that level is the highest one. How does perceiving in
categories rather than always perceiving specific relationships,
events, etc. provide abilities that are useful in themselves? If
there is an answer that can be given in terms of NON_VERBAL
categories, then the fact that categories provide a means of
naming is simply a happy side-effect, of no use in itself until
higher levels develop to work in terms of symbols. Doesn't
Stephen J. Gould talk somewhere about this effect in evolution?

To boil this down to a specific question: why would a species
develop the ability to perceive any one of an arbitrary set of
otherwise unrelated perceptions as being examples of "the same
thing?"

This excellent question is necessary but not sufficient. There may be
other means than a category level by which a species could

perceive any one of an arbitrary set of
otherwise unrelated perceptions as being examples of "the same
thing".

The means for doing this could involve a higher level in the hierarchy,
or it could involve a different sort of connections within the existing
hierarchy. This could be use of imagination-signals as I proposed, or
flip-flop connections on the same level as Martin proposed, or
combinations of these and other possibilities that we haven't considered.
Such changes would make possible the development of higher levels of the
hierarchy, which would not be possible without them--precisely as you
have seen a category level as prerequisite for development of higher
levels.

Imagination has this virtue: an organism takes an imagined banana as
representing any banana and starts a search for a banana. (More likely a
search for food, which might as easily lead to--or be sidetracked by--
grubs as bananas.) The imagined banana is an iconic symbol for any
banana for that organism. The motions of eating an imaginary banana can
communicate something about eating or food to another individual. The
individual might imagine grubs rather than bananas, but they might
institute a search for food together, to their mutual advantage. One
might be hungry and the other know where food is (the motions of eating
could signify either, explicable by context and other symptoms). Each
could watch behind the other's back as they foraged, and so on.
Imagination seems essential to social life of primates at least: what
would I be doing if I were acting that way? The imagined purpose might
be quite wrong, but social organisms control their perceptions of
themselves so as to make themselves more predictable to one another when
they seek cooperation, and that augments trial and error so that they get
it right, or right enough, more often than not.

Words evolved not in isolated organisms but in social groups. Motions of
eating emphasized by sounds might have become conventionalized as an
expression associated with food and eating: gham-gham! Once
it has become conventionalized, individuals are less careful about
imagining and emulating actual motions of eating (hunting, berry picking,
root digging, etc.) The conventionalized gestures and sounds are
different enough so as not to be confused with one another or with
behavioral outputs not intended explicitly to be communicative. The need
for the latter sort of difference indeed drives the conventionalizations
farther from ordinary actions, so that deliberate communication is
readily identifiable as such. These are the beginnings of language.
What is needed for this is not a higher level, but a new use for
imagination together with existing resources. Whatever an individual
wished to communicate, whatever activity called for cooperation, must
have existed as a social phenomenon before the means for communicating
about it with words or symbols. The path from imagined execution, to
imagined execution in an ostensive, inviting way, to conventionalized
abbreviations for imagined acts used in an ostensive, inviting way, to
words and language, must have been a gradual and continuous one, using
resources available throughout, and not dependent upon a new level of the
perceptual hierarchy for its inception and development. It assuredly
must have fostered rapid development of higher levels subsequently, but
it did not depend upon those developments for its evolutionary origin.

    Bruce
    bn@bbn.com