VS: Know Thyself with MOL

[Eetu Pikkarainen 2017.05.23]

[Martin Taylor 2017.05.22]

Thank you Martin, very good points to consider!


On 2017/05/22 1:03 PM, Eetu Pikkarainen wrote:

That is interesting. PCT / MOL promises to unite the old unity of psychotherapy and pastoral / ethical counseling. It can help you to find your highest goals and streamline your actions to fit with them. That
should lead to permanent happiness.

As I understand it, MoL really needs a fairly stable higher-level for which the perception(s) could be controlled by different means (atenfels) than the lower level controllers that are in conflict. I don’t think it can have much to say about changes at the
highest level. At least in standard HPCT, there’s no way to alter the highest level reference values dynamically.

MOL as a therapy practice is designed to resolve the conflict between two control systems by referring to a higher level system which is causing that conflict by determining the references of
those lower system in such a way that there will appear a conflict between them, right? BP stresses (somewhere) that the lower level systems are or may be working just as they should, and the difficulty is that we experience the problem in that lower level
while the problem really is in the higher level. I could understand this so that the higher level system is in a way “ill-defined” because it causes that contradiction. When we direct our consciousness to that problematic higher level system we give it an
opportunity to reorganize. Certainly there is much more, too.

I have also seen that this figure is applied also to interpersonal conflicts so that they can be tried to solve by “going up a level” and find a higher perception where the conflicting persons
agree. Here the dynamics seems a little bit different.

But the main problem in both kind of conflicts is that if the conflict happens to be in the highest level (system concepts) then no going up a level is possible. Then perhaps the only possible
way to proceed is to direct the consciousness to both conflicting systems and hope that they would reorganize so that the contradiction would at least ease somehow.

However this vision leaves me wonder are my or anyone’s highest goals still the right ones or best possible.

Do you think there is a possible definition of “right” for a highest level goal, other than that it improves control and survivability over what they would be in the absence of controlling that perception to that reference value?

Yes, in principle but perhaps no proper “definition” in practice. Many different goals possibly can do that: improve control and survivability etc. Some goal can do possibly better in the long
run than another. Possibly only time will show that some goal would be better than another.

Who determines what is “right”?

Perhaps this is not a best question. Perhaps no-one can “determine” it, but any human being can become aware of that problem and ask whether their current highest goal is the right or best possible,
or whether it should be changed. Of course this question typically actualizes in some kind of conflict situations. However it is always possible to think that there could be some better goal as an alternative to my current one. This is – on could call it
– an “ethical burden”, which can also hinder one’s control. (I will not go here to the possible method of that determination.)

“Best possible” has the same problem.
Without exploring the whole enormous space of possible perceptions to control and possible reference values for them, how can the optimum ever be discovered?

This kind of massive total evaluation cannot be done. Usually, I think, it is a comparison between two or couple of alternatives.

Since we all, from bacteria to fungi to trees to fish to humans, control our perceptions in a continuously changing environment, is there any guarantee that what would be “best possible” on Tuesday would still be “best possible” on Thursday?

NO :slight_smile: It is the same problem again and again. But isn’t it just the function of principles that you can try to follow one and the same principle and still do different detailed things in different

What evolution seems to do is provide a population with a variety of choices, some of which are good enough to survive through generations, while some are not.
Our ethical and moral goals are among these choices. Those that survive are those that have so far allowed populations in which they are common to continue to exist. A highest goal of “murder everyone you see” would not be likely to be held by many people
in a long-lasting community!

I agree. But still after leaving out the worst possible choices we can have more than one choices left.

Our actions change the environment for future controlling by ourselves and others (the science of this is called “stigmergy”, though it is usually not treated within a control-theoretic conceptual
framework – it usually is concerned with things like pheromone trails left by ants, or ruts that constrain wheels on roads).

Yes they do. And this fact adds to the previously mentioned burden. To what kind of direction do we want to change our common future? I have called this kind of stance
responsible control where we try take into account the (side) consequences of our action to future control of ourselves and also that of others.


Please, regard all my statements as questions,

no matter how they are formulated.


Perhaps not. Not necessarily. Then hopefully some disturbances make us reorganize them to something better. I think one speciality of being a human is that we can disturb ourselves.


(Lähetetty kännykästä / Sent from mobile)

Bruce Nevin bnhpct@gmail.com kirjoitti 22.5.2017 kello 19.36:

[From Bruce Nevin (

  1. To adequately understand a person, or oneself,  one must discover what are the most significant experiences which are controlled.

An application of PCT, called Method of Levels Therapy, helps one do this.

**Importance: This provides a key for understanding oneself and others. **

Read literally, this is a very interesting extrapolation from what is usually said about MoL, which is namely that one resolves intrapersonal conflict, and that such conflict is the root of psychological distress. It may indeed be true
that MoL can be a way to solve the central problem of one’s life-purpose.