What does Chapman understand?

[From Bill Powers (931213.2020 MST)]

Avery Andrews (931214.1110) --

I myself wouldn't be so sure that Chapman meant `selecting
output' in the sense that Rick wants to interpret it. If I say
`what are you going to do', and you say `telephone the property
manager', you're not describing the outputs you're going to
produce, but the effect (or, rather, an aspect of the effect,
other aspects, such as what you're going to say, being
understood from the context) you intend to achieve.

As Rick Marken said, this is how WE would intend these words to
be understood, but is it what Chapman would intend? From what I
have read of Chapman (and Agre), I don't believe it is. I think
they're sort of wavering between a realist view of what the
environment says to us and no view at all. The problem here is
that essentially _everyone_ speaks of behavior by describing the
perceived outcomes of actions, but nobody seems to realize that
they're describing input, not output. When I say "I'm telephoning
the property manager," at the moment I say it I may be running my
finger down listings in the campus phone book and be nowhere near
a telephone. Yet the words mean to most people an _action_ they
are taking, a result they are causing to happen in the
environment, the end of a chain of events that is started by them
and implemented by their muscles. The end of the chain is out
there, not in here.

Unless you've been sensitized to the difference between what is
and what is being perceived, it's really unlikely that you will
spontaneously realize that you're controlling perceptions and
that what is happening in the outside world may be quite
different. Only occasionally does something happen to suggest the
difference. You might dial the number with the hand that's
holding the telephone handset, convinced that you're dialing the
number, but find when you lift the receiver to your ear that
someone else is talking on that extension. So you weren't dialing
the number at all, in terms of what you accomplished; you were
just producing the motions of dialing a number.

But unless you have some prior preparation, such experiences
aren't likely to suggest any general principles like control of
perception. It's not likely that people would normally think of
"turning on a light" as a perception of something happening. Most
people think of this as indicating an action, something you do to
the light, out there in Boss Reality.

This is how `do this/that/what/something' constructions are
understood in ordinary English, and I see no reason for
interpreting the Chapman statement by any other scheme.

But do those constructions really suggest that one is "creating a
physical output that affects a complex of variables in the unseen
external world in such a way that I experience a perception of
something happening?" I doubt it.



Bill P.