ANOMALIES GENERATED BY CONTEMPORARY PHYSICS
C. A. Hilgartner
R. V. Harrington
M. A. Bartter
The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we
have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same
level at which we created them. (Einstein)
Today, when we humans inquire into the effects of science and technology on humans and human society, we find one question that overrides all others: How does it come to pass that when we generate and apply new knowledge -- when we practice science -- we bring the human species closer and closer to species suicide and extinction (and in the process, push the rest of the biosphere toward annihilation too)? After all, we humans practice science in order to increase human knowledge and our ability to predict accurately, so we can increase the likelihood that individual, group and species will survive.
"Common sense" suggests that we look for a culprit. Does the search for knowledge, or knowledge itself, amounts to a suicidal endeavor? Or if knowledge and the search for knowledge deserve a clean bill of health, do the generators and users of knowledge -- scientists and non-scientists alike -- have a built-in suicidal bent? In the present paper, instead of looking for a culprit, the authors focus on a contradiction between the observed and the expected: We hold that the disjunction between what we see going on around us -- the headlong rush toward species suicide, extinction and pan-biocide -- and the reason we humans practice science constitutes an anomaly.
In science, the term anomaly designates "findings which we must take seriously, that current theory cannot adequately account for."
To say that "current theory cannot adequately account for" certain findings means that they lie outside the range of the predictability conferred by these theories -- they contradict and disconfirm their tenets. As such, anomalies cast doubt on the empirical validity of the body of theory in question. And historically, the act of disclosing a body of anomalies has preceded that of accounting for it, by years or decades.
The authors find a large body of closely related anomalies in the contemporary physical sciences. We also notice that few other workers use the term anomaly when they characterize the current state of the physical sciences. So we take on a dual task: To display these anomalies, and to account for them in rigorous theoretical terms -- and in the process, to account for the fact that others appear not to have seen these things as anomalous.
Einstein and other early relativists and quantum theorists introduced the construct of taking the observer into account, and developed the precept and criterion that prefers a physical theory which does so over any which does not. Today's practicing physicists do account for the observer in the ways that those early pioneers taught them to. But they have reinterpreted that revolutionary precept so as to take the construct of the observer as if it had nothing to do with living human observers. Consequently, they conduct their studies as if divorced from any primary connections with actual humans, or from effective concern for specifiable human values. We maintain that the body of anomalies which we discern follows precisely from the special assumptions by which today's relativists and quantum theorists reinterpret taking the observer into account and divorce their studies from actual observers -- thereby (inconsistently) eliminating the observer from consideration.
Our theoretical system brackets the construct of taking the observer into account. We disclose the structure of logically general assumptions that one must hold in order to account for the observer, and also the contrasting structure of logically less general assumptions that one holds when eliminating the observer from consideration.1
In performing our investigation, we utilize a non-standard frame of reference of unusual generality, already partially published elsewhere. Its authors have worked it out well enough so that it delivers a non-standard mathematical notation of the "Let's keep track of what we say" type. This alternative frame of reference provides not only the methodology for our study but also the contrast which brings the anomalies out into view. However, the unfamiliarity of this frame of reference, which stems from fundamental premises different from those which underlie the familiar body of "scientific thought" of the Western Indo-European (WIE) tradition, makes it intrinsically difficult for us to communicate our results to our fellow humans.
The text which follows represents a tactical compromise. We utilize our resources to present our analysis and our conclusions, and to say what we believe needs saying -- while striving to present enough of the main tools we use, in the text and/or the notes, to show how we do the analyzing and reach the conclusions. We believe that the act of meticulously following this analysis will give each reader both a felt insight into the basis of our alternative frame of reference and also competence in judging the value of its procedures.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, a number of physical experiments, each done by reputable workers using acceptable methods, had delivered results that contradicted the tenets of Newtonian physics. These anomalies (also known as relativistic discrepancies), well known by the community of physicists, include the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887), the increasing success of Maxwell's field equations in explaining physical phenomena which Newtonian mechanics could not account for, Kaufmann's (1901) findings that fast-moving electrons have a greater mass than do electrons at rest2, etc. Taken together, these anomalous findings cast serious doubt on the adequacy of Newtonian physical theory -- inconceivable as that might seem, in light of its successes in other areas.
Faced with these "outrages," the contemporary physicists found three approaches open to them. i) They could completely ignore or blot out the anomalous results, as did those turn-of-the-century scientists who held that all the important problems in physics had already gotten solved, that future workers would have nothing left to do except measure the key physical constants more accurately by a few decimal places. ii) They could admit that the anomalies existed, but explain them away or dismiss them as unimportant for their field of endeavor, and go about their business more or less as usual. Or, iii) they could take the anomalies seriously, and, figuratively speaking, tear out their hair over their inability to account for them adequately in theoretical terms, meanwhile seeking to create the means to do just that.
As it turned out, after the theory of relativity (and quantum theory) began appearing in print, it became apparent that Einstein's revisionist work gave satisfactory accountings for one after another of the anomalies. To many workers, that made the claims put forth in its behalf increasingly convincing. After all, we have no way to measure the "explanatory power" of a theory except by observing what it can explain -- and we use "explanatory power" as a criterion, preferring one theory to another (or others) partly on the basis of what it can explain that its rival(s) cannot.
In order for scientists to work out ways of accounting for anomalies, they must first notice the discrepancies and designate them as anomalous. Today in the physical sciences, one hears little talk of anomalies. Yet disturbing results from today's science abound. Furthermore, as in 1900, these results cast the most serious doubt on the adequacy of the now-dominant theories (including relativity and quantum theory) -- inconceivable as that might seem, in light of their successes in other areas.
Here we designate as an anomaly each one of the multitude of ways that the products or applications of modern science now threaten the survival of the human species. These include fission and fusion reactions on the surface of the Earth instead of at a distance of 93,000,000 miles, the accumulation of radioactive "fallout" and "wastes" in a biosphere specifically vulnerable to ionizing radiation, and (with the advances in our ability to synthesize new chemicals which follows from applying quantum theory to the field of chemistry) the accumulation in the biosphere of synthesized chemicals of unprecedented toxicity and stability -- to name only a few of them.
Furthermore, knowledge of these disturbing developments has spread beyond the community of physical scientists. Virtually every member of the human race in contact with modern "civilization" knows about them.
Again, people find three main approaches to these "problems" available to them: ignore or blot them out; argue them away while carrying on business as usual (e.g., blame somebody else for them; or consider them in a piecemeal fashion, one "problem" at a time, and devise and apply piecemeal "Band-Aid" remedies; etc.); or take them seriously and seek to create rigorous theoretical means capable of accounting for them. It seems to us that the vast majority of humans -- scientists as well as lay persons -- takes either the first or the second of these options, ignoring these disturbing results or trying to deal with them one at a time or defining them as Somebody else's problem,3 etc.
Let us frame the issue so it directly addresses the duties and responsibilities of scientists. As Polanyi4 points out, the social institution of science functions in a self-reflexive manner: the current practitioners establish the current meaning of the term science, determine what to accept as science, establish the current meaning of the term scientist, and designate themselves as such. The practitioners also provide for the continuation of the social institution of science: from among the current group of applicants, they choose and train their own successors.
But today scientists face a self-generated situation not discussed in the usual normative protocols: As currently practiced, the human use of modern science threatens to interrupt the continuance of the social institution of science, by irrevocably eliminating all scientists.
This self-reflexive prospect of species suicide by means of ordinary scientific work we label an anomaly -- the central anomaly -- and deem it worthy of thoroughgoing study and a comprehensive theoretical treatment.
INCLUDING VS. ELIMINATING THE OBSERVER
As noted above, the earliest exponents of relativity (and quantum theory) introduced a new distinction to human discourse, which they expressed in terms of the construct of the observer, who gets either included or eliminated from consideration in the theory in question. Specifically, they find that Newtonian theory eliminates the observer from consideration, whereas relativity (and quantum theory) includes the observer (takes the observer into account).
That much sounds familiar. But to the best of my knowing, up till now no one has shown how it works. Logically speaking, what must we DO in order to take the observer into account? What must we DO in order to eliminate the observer from consideration? And what advantages (if any) accrue from arranging to take the observer into account?
The present authors find that whether someone's theories include or eliminate the observer depends on what s/he assumes, on a logical level more fundamental than that of the assumptions usually discussed by students of logical foundations. We humans now have available two alternative sets of fundamental premises on this level, which we distinguish as traditional and non-traditional. We find the traditional set encoded in the "philosophical grammar" common to the Western Indo-European (WIE) discursive languages (e.g. Dutch, English, French, Greek, German, etc.) and on the WIE formalized languages (e.g. symbolic logic, mathematical theory of sets, analysis, topology, etc.) developed from them. To a large extent, Newtonian mechanics rests upon these traditional premises. The theory of relativity (and quantum theory) occupy an intermediate position -- their originators deviate from these traditional assumptions in part, but do not explicitly characterize their own revised assumptions, nor contrast them to the traditional ones they partially replaced. Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) completed the job begun by the revisionist theorists (non-euclidean geometers as well as non-newtonian physicists), proposing coherent, entirely non-traditional premises which generalize from those innovations.5
When we humans base our theories on the traditional assumptions, the theories which result then systematically eliminate the observer from consideration. Alternatively, when we base our theories on the non-traditional premises, the theories which result then systematically take the observer into account. (But to do that -- base one's theories on those unfamiliar premises in a systematic fashion -- represents no trivial accomplishment.)
To show what we gain from using the non-traditional premises, let us use a key term from that vocabulary -- the undefined term (to) order or ordering -- as a yardstick against which to measure, compare and contrast Newtonian and relativistic mechanics. (Please remember that in this setting, ordering has a fundamental importance which its closest traditional analog, the defined term (noun-form) order, lacks in the traditional WIE discursive and formalized languages.)
In the remainder of this section, we assert, the term ordering gets used correctly, as (the discursive representation of) an undefined term in the non-traditional frame of reference:
At least since the era of Newton, physics has dealt with an exceedingly limited aspect of human experiencing, namely, those aspects of human experiencing which look like the behavior of inanimate objects.
Einstein, who explicitly recognizes that we humans utilize science to co-ordinate our experiences and to bring them into a logical system, proposes that human experiencing includes an intrinsic principle of ordering:
The experiences of an individual appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criterion of "earlier" and "later," which cannot be analyzed further.6
Einstein's phrasing spells out a version of the kind of ordering of human experiencing which we call spatio-temporal (Ot)7 . The notation for our alternative, more general frame of reference takes the construct of ordering as absolutely basic, required: As a part of its linguistic structure it has built-in means for representing the doings or happenings it deals with as ordered; and spatio-temporal ordering qualifies as one legitimate special case.
The details chosen to represent doings or happenings have far-reaching consequences. Here we consider the construct of ordered in either a positive (ordered) sense or a negative (un-ordered) one. Then the construct of spatio-temporal ordering gives us a criterion against which to assess various physical theories.
In his physics, Newton tacitly assumes that light travels from one point to another in 'no time at all' -- which implies that physical happenings can occur with absolute simultaneity (in a spatio-temporally non-ordered fashion).8 Thus he posits that physical happenings distant from one another can occur simultaneously, and that any observer (or any two observers) will see them as simultaneous. As a further development of this construct of non-ordering, a Newtonian observer has to qualify as omniscient, for having tacitly cast human experiencing as non-ordered, Newton allows himself no means to discuss how an observer detects physical happenings or builds up a picture -- theoretical or practical -- of what happened. Instead, his discussions appear to refer to the construct of what really happened.
Thus, a Newtonian observer doesn't generate pictures of physical happenings, s/he 'just knows what really happened.'9 Further still, a Newtonian omniscient observer who encounters another observer WHOSE VIEWS DO NOT EXACTLY MATCH HER/HIS OWN might consider this a challenge to her/his Authority, and might find such a challenge hard to tolerate. S/He might succumb to the temptation to try to invalidate the views of her/his rival, or even to invalidate the rival personally, in order to defend the rightness of her/his own views. If the rival should respond with attempts to defend the rightness of her/his own views, perhaps by seeking to invalidate our observer and/or her/his views, the resulting scenario would look like a dominance/submission battle, a power-struggle. In general, humans engage in intra-personal and inter-personal power-struggle if and only if their most fundamental assumptions represent human experiencing as non-ordered, and so omniscient (based on map-territory Identity), thereby eliminating the observer (self) from consideration.
In contrast, Einstein does discuss why he engages in theorizing:
The object of all science, whether natural science or psychology, is to co-ordinate our experiences and to bring them into a logical system.10
He also discusses how an observer generates a picture of what happened -- he implies that an observer somehow detects physical happenings by means of light, and he specifically postulates that light
i) has a finite velocity
ii) which remains constant for all observers, regardless of their motion relative to each other or relative to the light source.
These postulates have the practical effect of EXPLICITLY representing the physical doings or happenings which we experience AS IF they occurred in a spatio-temporally ordered fashion. Thus the theory of relativity suggests that a relativistic observer will experience the light from a pulsed laser s/he holds as detectably taking a longer while to reflect off a far object and back to her/his eyes than it does off a near object. Readers will recognize this example of spatio-temporal ordering as a partial statement of the physical principle underlying radar devices. A relativistic observer does not represent her/himself as omniscient: On the basis of what s/he can detect of the physical happenings around her/him, s/he remains aware that s/he does not know and cannot know what really happened, but rather, s/he can at best build up a picture or map, unavoidably limited (to some degree inaccurate, incomplete and self-referential), of "What appeared to happen, from my point of view." Furthermore, since s/he recognizes that her/his map remains limited in this way, s/he can welcome the findings of other observers, who may well have seen something useful that s/he didn't see -- an attitude and accomplishment fundamental to the theory of relativity.11
These considerations paraphrase opposing constructs: "explicitly postulating that light travels at a finite velocity" vs. "tacitly assuming that light travels in no time at all." Furthermore, they suffice to show that a theory which posits spatio-temporal ordering can in principle take the non-omniscient observer into account, whereas a theory which posits spatio-temporal non-ordering in principle absolutely cannot do so because it has no "room" within it for the non-omniscient -- it specifically eliminates any non-omniscient observer from consideration.
So far so good: using the construct of spatio-temporal ordering, we can account for some of the positive accomplishments of the theory of relativity with considerable economy. But nothing we have done so far seems to account for the CURRENT anomalies. However, our method of accounting does raise a further question: Do there exist other kinds of ordering, also intrinsic to human experiencing, which might enable us to account for them?
Consider the construct of hierarchical ordering (Oh), which qualifies as another legitimate special case of the fundamental construct of ordering.12
(For an example of hierarchical ordering, consider the relationship between the statements made in a two-person dialogue, in which participant A makes a remark1, participant B replies with remark2, A continues with remark3, etc. Each remarkj builds on the preceding remarki, and so occupies a different logical "level" (a different position in a hierarchical ordering) within the dialogue.)
The linguistic structure of our alternative notation has built-in means for REPRESENTING doings or happenings as hierarchically ordered and can take this construct in either a negative (un-ordered) or a positive sense. Thus the construct of hierarchically ordered provides us with another criterion for looking at physical theories.
Although he takes into account certain aspects of spatio-temporal ordering in human experiencing, Einstein TACITLY posits hierarchical non-ordering: He treats the REPORTS of Observers 1 and 2 as FACTS, and pays no attention to the uniqueness of the respective REPORTER/OBSERVERS or to the relationship between them -- to the fact that the observers have to report to EACH OTHER in a spatio-temporally and hierarchically ordered fashion in order for any relativistic discrepancy to become apparent.
This neglect seems to us inappropriate, for in a relativistic setting, the relations of each observer with her/himself and the relations between the observers play a crucial role. First, consider the kind of trusting of self-and-others both required by and presumed in studies of this type: Whether or not Observer 2 can work with rather than against Observer 1's findings depends upon the degree of self-esteem with which Observer 2 regards her/himself and her/his own findings, and the degree of esteem with which s/he regards Observer 1 and her/his findings. An observer without enough self-esteem and trust will revert to power-struggle, and so cannot discover a relativistic discrepancy at all. (This obtains even if "Observer 1" and "Observer 2" actually constitute "the same" person.)
Secondly, consider the sequencing of events entailed in studies of this type: It TAKES A WHILE for the first Observer to do her/his measuring, and another while to process the measurements into findings, and still another while to transmit the findings to the second Observer, and still another for the second Observer to take them in, and still another to compare those findings with her/his own, and to discover a relativistic discrepancy. Not only does it take a while for each of those steps, but also, each subsequent step builds upon the preceding one, and so passing from one to the next involves a logical jump. We regard the human experiencing subsumed both in this sequence of whiles and in the relevant relations within and between the observers AS IF it intrinsically involves hierarchical ordering as well as spatio-temporal ordering.
Relativistic reasoning, as of the early 1920's, takes into account one and only one step in this sequence of spatio-temporally and hierarchically ordered doings, namely, the while required to transmit findings from one Observer to the other. But it does not EXPLICITLY take these other whiles into account. At least some workers do not recognize any necessity to do so. We have talked with contemporary physicists who, upon hearing these other whiles mentioned, propose to make them negligible by utilizing the sophisticated equipment of today so as to reduce the interval required to make the relevant measurements, or to receive and record the transmitted findings, etc., to the range of nanoseconds. However, such suggestions elegantly miss the point. Assume that the findings of our first Observer remain stored on magnetic disk or tape and remain as yet unexamined by our second Observer. Then their bearing on a physical theory or on a specific physical hypothesis under investigation by our second Observer can under no circumstances become apparent TO OUR SECOND OBSERVER. Only after s/he has taken these findings in and considered them can s/he use them in any way at all.
The procedure of symbolically reducing these whiles to zero, or of technologically rendering them negligible, has consequences which sound unexpectedly familiar: It REPRESENTS observable physical happenings, which clearly take place at finite rates, as taking place in "no time at all." The process of taking in and considering data hinges upon the spatio-temporally and hierarchically ordered activities of the Observer's nervous system, which in turn depend upon nerve-impulses propagated at finite velocities: No Observer, no spatio-temporally and hierarchically ordered nerve-impulses; no spatio-temporally and hierarchically ordered nerve-impulses, no Observer.
In other words, by not taking these whiles into account, Einstein tacitly eliminates at least one intrinsic aspect of human experiencing from consideration. He tacitly assumes that nervous-system activities, such as those involved in making a measurement or processing measurements into findings, take place in no time at all. But that involves a chain of implications which Einstein himself first disclosed: To treat the nervous-system activities by which our Observer observes the Observed, etc., as if they took place in no time at all amounts to treating these activities as non-ordered, and thereby eliminates the Observer from consideration. The construct of non-ordered turns out no more satisfactory when used by Einstein and his contemporaries and successors with respect to the propagation of nerve-impulses than does this construct when used by Galileo and Newton and their contemporaries and successors with respect to the propagation of light.
These deficiencies of theory, we maintain, underlie and lead to the contemporary failures of accounting which we label as anomalies.
THE CURRENT ANOMALIES
The consequences of the twentieth-century advances in physical theory, listed above, which threaten human survival include nuclear fission and fusion reactions here on Earth, the accumulation of radioactive "wastes" and "fallout" in the biosphere, the synthesis and accumulation of toxic stable chemicals, etc.
From one point of view, these developments look like excellent practical applications of the current theories of modern physics -- or like side-effects of practical applications, not themselves of primary significance in the relevant theories. Those who hold such a view maintain that science itself contains no value judgments or criteria for evaluation of human concerns beyond the empirical, testable "objective truth," within the balkanized domain of the conventional "fields of study." The topic of the human species, and its possible weal or woe, has no place in their "standard modern physics." But by including disclaimers of responsibility (the phrases about side-effects, etc.) alongside the proud claims of ownership of these developments, these physicists suggest some profound unease or perplexity within their viewpoint.
As noted, the construct of anomalies signifies "Findings which we must take seriously, but which current theory cannot account for." The authors suggest that these life-threatening developments comprise the most important anomalies in physics today. No previously existing, coherent theory accounts for how such terrifying dangers can arise out of those human "doings" which we call modern physics. Further, since we humans have no theoretical understanding of how we produced these anomalies, no one has yet offered principled suggestions for dealing with them (or with others we may yet produce) in practice.
In the present paper, the authors utilize a case study both to account for how these dangers arise, and to develop principled ways of handling them.
AN OBSERVER OBSERVING THE OBSERVED
In 1927, Werner Heisenberg set forth his principle of uncertainty, which, translated into general terms in English, holds that the act of observing a system changes the system.
We extend the principle of uncertainty at least one step further. We maintain that in the process of observing, the observer transacts with the observed. The construct of transacting contrasts with mechanical interacting, that may alter the physical state, the shape, etc., of the relevant components, but otherwise leaves them fundamentally unchanged -- a construct which seems well suited for describing the billiard-ball "behavior" of the macroscopic non-living.13 The contrasting term transacting seems particularly apt for describing the back-and-forth "doings" of living systems, that leave both parties fundamentally transformed.
When an organism transacts with her/his environment, the environment gets altered, as modern physicists might agree. But the organism, the observer, gets altered too -- a point not explicitly incorporated into any previous formalized theory. For example, a young person, while transacting with a teacher or author, may get introduced to a part of her/his environment of the type which we call an idea; and s/he may become greatly intrigued and excited by it. Once one's head gets inflated by a big idea, it never returns to its original size and shape (nor does the idea). This type of transacting can function as what we call forming an associating14 -- which leads one to look at oneself-and-one's-environment in a different way, and to choose to look at different aspects of self-and-environment, than would follow from other associatings one might have formed.
To date, however, our physical theories still effectively eliminate from consideration the observer. Witness the fact that physicists have not included in their theories any construct(s) which acknowledge observers -- themselves -- as engaging in transacting.
What would a physics that does systematically take into account the observer look like? It would have to include not only representations of 1) the physical system, 2) how the observer/experimenter physically manipulates the experimental equipment s/he sets up and uses, and 3) the results obtained, but also representations of a) how s/he transacts with that social system which includes her/his own training and her/his teachers, peers and students, b) the protocol for designing and performing an experiment which s/he learned from that social system and uses in the present experiment, and c) the theoretical structures s/he invokes. Anything less would violate the requirement to take into account the observer.
In one of our papers, by means of close study of an example, we illustrate in notational detail the widened scope of a physics which does take into account the role of transacting in physics: we consider an experiment done by Walter Kaufmann (1871-1947).15 In 1901, Kaufmann (a Newtonian physicist whose received viewpoint perforce eliminates the observer from consideration) performed and published a study which shows that the mass of an electron increases with increasing velocity -- contrary to the predictions of Newtonian theory and in contrast to Kaufmann's earlier findings with lower-velocity electrons. By discovering and publishing this anomaly, this relativistic discrepancy, Kaufmann helps to set the stage for the subsequent theory of relativity, which begins the process of taking the observer into account.
We show how Kaufmann, by means of the directively correlated (or "apparently purposive") activities16 involved in performing and reporting his 1901 experiment, altered himself, the guild of physicists, and ultimately, the entire human species -- as well as altering the experimental system (environment) which he studied. We find in Kaufmann's study both a disciplined, image-correcting or self-correcting aspect, in which he elaborates expectings (hypotheses) concerning the inanimate, treats them as hypothetical and tentative, and subjects them to experimental testing, without disconfirmation; and also an undisciplined, self-defending aspect which embodies fundamental theoretical error, in which he treats his expectings concerning self and the social as in no way hypothetical and tentative, but rather as a matter of omniscient knowing (e.g., treats his expectings as identical with what they refer to) -- and he neglects to test these expectings at all. Kaufmann presents a particularly intriguing example: Part of what he originally subscribed to, that we now recognize as a body of fundamental error -- that portion centering about what we call spatio-temporal ordering -- has since gotten corrected in physical theory, at least in part (and Kaufmann's own work contributed to this advance); while another portion of this body of error -- centering about hierarchical ordering (which Kaufmann ignored) -- has not.
This study allows us to characterize the transactional structure of the kind of social system within which advances in knowledge take place. We review the historical, biographical and scientific records of Kaufmann's experiment from a number of angles suggested by the alternative frame of reference: a) a directively correlated ("apparently purposive") aspect, b) a spatio-temporally and a hierarchically ordered aspect, and c) an inter-personal and social one. We highlight the personal growth which Kaufmann undergoes and the esteem shown him by others as a consequence of performing and publishing his experiment. We describe this personal growth in Gestalt terms, as an alteration of his expectings concerning self-and-others: At the beginning of his study, his expectings lead him to transact with himself-and-others as a disciple of Thompson, Searle, Lorentz, et al.; whereas after the transactings summarized under the word publication, we find evidence of changed expectings: he behaves, and gets treated, as what we call a master scientist and theorist, operating on his own authority rather than as a disciple. Thus our example shows that, from the standpoint of our alternative frame of reference which DOES systematically take into account the observer, the construct of transacting forms the very heart of physics, since the discipline, physics, cannot exist without physicists.
But the fact that Kaufmann's published viewpoint still leaves the observer (himself) out of account has further serious consequences. Contemporary physicists might justify this omission on the superficial grounds of "custom" within physics. But it also betokens deep structural reasons -- hidden assumptions -- which by their very presence eliminate the observer from consideration. And these assumptions lie at the heart of the modern anomalies.
In order to complete our argument concerning anomalies in contemporary physics, we must explore in some detail the supposition that humans expect or assume -- the construct of lived theory.
As we have indicated above, we assume that humans assume, that they CANNOT NOT-ASSUME, and that their assumptions (which may remain entirely non-verbal) show up in action. In other words, what one DOES follows from (forms the logical outcome of) what one ASSUMES. Thus we hold that every human transacts AS IF from some theory or other, some structure composed of assumptions, which we call a lived theory -- whether s/he notices or not. Where her/his lived theories lead to outcomes which s/he regards as unsatisfactory, s/he can alter what s/he habitually DOES only by changing what s/he ASSUMES (and/or vice versa).
Furthermore, we regard it as possible, feasible and desirable for any human to make her/his lived theory explicit and to subject it to scrutiny, revising it as needed. To date, we humans have mostly kept our lived theories tacit and unstated; only rarely have we made them explicit and consciously revised them.
A. SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES
Lived theories have a creative aspect, functioning like self-fulfilling prophecies. As we humans transact on the basis of lived theory, our directively correlated doings re-make everything involved in the transacting into a closer approximation to the pictures of "what goes on" embedded in the theory which we live. For example, a lived theory which tacitly posits map-territory Identity and so systematically leaves out of account the observer also systematically leaves out any transacting between organism (observer) and environment, and thus in turn leaves out the environment. Such a theory thus provides the symbolic means to represent only inanimate mechanisms, e.g. those that maximize a single variable. Someone who lives such a theory may have the tools to account very well indeed for the non-living, the physical -- or for such "variables" as power, or status, or profits. However, in the process of living that theory s/he makes her/himself resemble the kind of mechanism that seeks to maximize such variables. In general, when we humans live a theory which systematically leaves out of account the observer -- ourselves-in-our-environments -- we transform the environment so that it becomes more hospitable to mechanisms and less hospitable to living systems -- transacting persons -- while we transform ourselves so that we more resemble the types of mechanisms depicted in the theory than we do persons engaging in mutually-altering transacting.
Consider, for example, the practitioners of "agribusiness," whose lived theory treats the topsoil as an inanimate "production facility" -- a factory -- instead of as an ecosystem in itself, and a vital part of a larger ecosystem, of which farmers form one part. According to such a theory, it makes sense to maximize "production" by the use of chemical fertilizers (which kill off soil organisms, contaminate streams and ground-water, etc.), and of so-called pesticides and herbicides (ecologically even more damaging); by the practice of monoculture (thousands of contiguous acres of wheat, etc. -- a "simplified," intrinsically unstable ecosystem which invites invasions of crop-predators); by the use of heavy machinery which compacts the soil more in the weeks of tilling than those earthworms which survive the agricultural chemicals can aerate again in a whole year; etc., etc.
Modern organic farmers have developed the beginnings of a body of practical and theoretical ecological knowledge concerning how consciously to transact with the topsoil as if they themselves formed a part in a series of nested ecosystems. When they manure, mulch, and compost their land, practice diversified planting, arrange for natural or biological control of crop-predators, etc., they act like they lived in the ecosystem also.
But in the agribusiness lived-theory of "farming," the practitioners train themselves to reason like "objective" businessmen or factory managers, as if apart from and independent of their "production facility." In the process, they make their nested ecosystems less and less stable and viable -- make their "business" less sustainable -- and make themselves less and less competent to act like partners transacting in a sustainable fashion with nested ecosystems.
At present, we have carried the process of living from theories which symbolically eliminate the symbolic observer so far that we threaten to render the biosphere entirely uninhabitable, and non-verbally to eliminate all actual observers forever.
Various scientists -- practitioners of various sub-specialties -- do predict disaster ahead. But each does so mainly in "single-issue" terms -- tropical ecologists for the destruction of the rain forests; chemists for the specter of industrial pollution; radiation biologists for the threat from radioactive wastes; meteorologists for the hazard from loss of the ozone layer; atmospheric scientists or climatologists for the threat of climactic change from the greenhouse effect; etc. In analyzing whatever sub-problem s/he addresses, few if any include the role of the observer (her/himself) in creating the threats. Even more alarming, few if any express the overall situation in terms of an active, comprehensive threat to the whole biosphere, or develop a coordinated plan for handling the threats by improving the conditions of life for the biosphere as a whole and for every species that inhabits it -- snail darters as well as humans. They generally lack the breadth of vision and the language to make such possibilities real even to the scientific community, much less to the public at large.
In contrast, a theory which explicitly posits map-territory Non-identity and so systematically takes the observer into account -- in her/his dealings with himself, with the non-living environment, with other humans and with other species -- has the symbolic means adequately to represent living systems transacting with themselves-and-their-environments. So far, we humans have few worked examples of this kind of theory to consider. But in principle, when we live such a theory, we provide ourselves with the possibility of transforming our environments so as to make them more hospitable to transacting persons, and of transforming ourselves so we resemble not mechanisms, but rather, transacting persons -- participants -- (co-) operating on a people-centered, life-centered basis.
In any case, the construct of lived theory points to the structured expectings, verbal and/or non-verbal, which form a central part of our directively correlated (apparently 'purposive') doings or happenings.17 Up until now, since we humans have usually kept our lived theories tacit and unstated, we had not noticed that we now have at least two distinct kinds of lived theory, with contrasting self-fulfilling prophecies, already available to us as part of our lived repertory.
The kind of theory which eliminates the observer and so leads to power-struggle presumes that in their dealings with self-and-others, the participants will operate from shared tacit assumptions, which they do not acknowledge, question or test; and it defines as 'favorable' any outcome which both keeps those tacit assumptions concealed and maintains or increases the power or prestige or profits of some specified group (at the expense of other groups), for the sole benefit of the specified group.
The kind of theory which includes the observer and so leads to synergistic transacting presumes that the participants will operate via disciplined observing/inferring from shared explicit assumptions which they acknowledge, question and test; and it defines as 'favorable' any outcome which increases knowledge -- improves our orientation to self-and-other -- so as to enhance the viability of individual, group and species.
Some eighty years ago, when Einstein and other early relativists and quantum theorists first stated the requirement that our physical theories must take the observer into account (and began the process of doing so), their contributions led to a vast increase in the explanatory power available to the human species.
This very increase establishes that the assumptions which underlie their contributions differ from -- make a sharp break with -- the assumptions which underlie earlier theories.
But, as we show above, to date no physicist has used the innovative assumptions so as to finish the job, replacing the more traditional ones in a consistent fashion. And any theory which depends in part upon the innovative assumptions (which take the observer into account) and in part on the more traditional ones which preceded them (which eliminate the observer from consideration) will show the logical disadvantage of inconsistency.
Meanwhile, this increase in the explanatory power of modern physical science occurred in the milieu of our traditional larger culture, in which no concerted change of assumptions has yet taken place. In such a culture, the young get born into, and grow up in, a setting in which practically everybody around them operates from lived theories which, by tacitly positing map-territory Identity, eliminate the observer, and so lead to behaving-and-experiencing that manifests power-struggle. The young therefore construct lived theories which do the same. Thus the milieu of power-struggle gets perpetuated.
Some of the young become scientists, trained to participate in the self-correcting social institution of science. But even the best of scientists may maintain their self-correcting within logic-tight compartments. Few have sought to extend self-correcting so as to revise lived theories in general, with the conscious aim of replacing our pattern of power-struggle with "doings" that manifest self-correcting.
As a consequence, we humans have, as Einstein puts it, "create[d] problems we cannot solve at the same level at which we created them." The fundamental conflict here goes as follows:
a) The exponents of lived theories which posit Non-identity treat the social institution of science as directively correlated, with the fundamental goal of increasing human knowledge for the benefit of the entire human species in its setting in the biosphere. And conversely, the social institution of science places an unrelenting requirement on its exponents: to commit themselves to subscribe to no theory, hypothesis, view, opinion, belief, guess, etc., already disconfirmed.
b) The exponents of theories based on Identity and power-struggle regard science as existing "in isolation," a blind Juggernaut without concern or responsibility for the welfare of the human species in its environment. They treat it as fit only for exploitation, with no concern for its internal structure, its logic and ethics.
Thus far, the latter group has held sway: Because we tacitly live from self-eliminating theories, we scientists and non-scientists alike have cooperated in exploiting modern science, including modern physics. In the process, we have created a mutilated science,18 committed to maintaining certain hypotheses, views, opinions, beliefs or guesses as hidden, tacit, unrecognized, unexamined, and untested.
We have subjugated our advances in explanatory power to local patriotism, economic interest, the power of the state, and the like. Thus we have created a social institution of "science" with a different, darker goal: To use the explanatory power of modern science, especially modern physics, to produce physical power in the service of political power and power-struggle, for the sole benefit of some group smaller than the entire human species. By so doing, we have created the modern anomalies, and so threaten ourselves with species-suicide, self-inflicted extinction.
These developments -- mutilations -- of modern science violate the intentions which lead humans to practice science in the first place.
The currently-dominant forms of human knowledge -- standard-brand Western logics, mathematics, sciences, philosophies, jurisprudences, religions, along with the lived theories of their exponents -- appear incompatible with species-survival. And in their present stages of development, none of our Western scientific theories -- in "natural science or psychology," as Einstein puts it -- shows us how to arrange our personal lives and our social systems so as to replace the non-viable pattern of power-struggle with some alternative, viable pattern. None rigorously accounts for how the terrible dangers which constitute the modern anomalies can arise out of modern physics.
The theory which lies behind the present study does answer the question of how these dangers arise: By continuing to organize our lives around lived theory that presumes map-territory identity and so systematically eliminates the observer from consideration, we progressively bring ourselves-and-our-planet closer and closer to the situation in which we will have non-verbally eliminated all actual, non-verbal observers forever.
We cannot "just stop doing this." Humans unavoidably live from theory. The present viewpoint offers principled suggestions for how to deal with these anomalies (or for others we may yet produce) in practice: We CAN retire that kind of lived theory by replacing it with the kind of lived theory that systematically presumes map-territory non-identity and so takes the observer into account. By so doing, we can give ourselves an opportunity to find ways out of our species-suicidal impasse.
A theoretical system (such as the present frame of reference) which systematically takes the observer into account -- in her/his dealings with her/himself, with her/his non-living environment, with other humans and with other species -- in principle provides the tools to account for both "the behavior of non-living systems" and "the behavior of living systems" within a single symbol-system. We can use it to de-throne the current patterns of power-struggle, and the anomalies listed above, and to commit to self-correcting, so as to give ourselves a chance to solve the species-survival problems which those older patterns jointly pose.
If we humans do NOT effect a major revision of our lived theories, and so de-throne the social institution of power struggle, then the human species will kill itself.
This "prediction" expresses a generalization from our non-traditional point of view, now stated in standard English. As stated, it sounds acceptable, "testable" -- but, if we should try to put it to the test, and it turned out not-disconfirmed, no human would remain alive to record the result.19
The present study demonstrates the possibility and feasibility of successfully making the kind of revision we call for.
Thus there remains only the question of which we humans will choose: To cling to the lived theories we now have and so to assent to species suicide, or to risk revising our lived theories, and see what happens.
In casting about for a way to talk about our current species-suicidal impasse, the authors consider two obvious culprits -- on one hand, the search for knowledge or knowledge itself; or on the other, the human knowers. But in fact we dismiss the approach of looking for scapegoats, and proceed to explore a third possibility: That as organisms who guide what we DO by the assumptions encoded in the theories we hold, we humans HAVE DONE exactly what the currently dominant assumptions told us to -- to our immediate peril -- and that we can change what we do ONLY by changing our assumptions.
As our considered opinion, the authors suggest that the assumptions encoded in our currently-dominant theories include at least one now-disclosed tacit assumption which directs us humans in self-defeating, self-eliminating, suicidal directions. We further suggest that we now have the resources -- alternative assumptions and the beginnings of an alternative scientific frame of reference based on them -- with which to reject and replace this dangerous tacit assumption. We hold that the time has come for us humans to revise our traditional premises.
1. We can express the criterion of logical generality as follows:
Given: A concerted body of observations, and at least two theories, C and D , which purport to account for (at least some of) these observations. Then we can show D as more general than C if the following circumstances hold:
a) That we display a restricted and restrictive assumption Z ;
b) That we show that Z forms an intrinsic part of the premises of C and no part of the premises of D ;
c) That by introducing or eliminating Z , we can inter-convert between C and D . Specifically,
i) By systematically introducing Z into the premises of D , we can collapse it into a structure logically equivalent to C ;
ii) By systematically eliminating Z from the premises of C , we can expand it into a structure logically equivalent to D .
2. Kaufmann, Walter (1901): Nachrichten von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, Math.-phys Kl., 2:143-155.
3. To quote mathematician/comedian Tom Lehrer,
"Once the rockets are up,
Who cares where they come down?
That's not my department!"
Says Wernher von Braun.
Lehrer, Tom (1965): "Wernher von Braun," from That Was The Year that Was. Reprise Records RS6179. Reprinted in Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer. New York: Pantheon, 1981, pp. 124-5.
4. Polanyi, Michael (1964): Personal Knowledge: Toward a Post-Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958. Torchbook edition, New York: Harper & Row, pp. 216-7.
5. Korzybski, Alfred (1943): "General Semantics, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Prevention." In M. Kendig (Ed.), Papers from the Second American Congress on General Semantics. Institute of General Semantics, Chicago, pp. 93-108.
By convention, the most basic of one's premises consists of undefined terms, which one does not attempt to "define" by means of other terms. These undefined terms, as Korzybski points out, function as postulates of a type which one cannot state in words. As a criterion of mastery of the system, then, one must know how to USE the undefined terms.
For his undefined terms, Korzybski chooses structure, order, and relation. When we express these in English, we treat them like verb-forms, e.g. (to) structure, structuring.
In a formal presentation of theory, one uses the undefined terms to express the postulates. Here, in the interests of intelligibility, we state Korzybski's non-aristotelian postulates in terms of the map-territory analogy, which holds that to say that an organism lives means that it makes some kind of maps of (or guesses about) that territory composed of "what goes on in and around our organism" -- and then it guides its "doings" or "choosings" by these maps. Stated colloquially, then, these postulates become:
Non-identity: The map IS NOT the territory it stands for.
Non-allness: The map represents NOT ALL of the aspects of the territory.
Self-reflexiveness: Any map contains some kind of representation of the map-maker (organism).
The present authors maintain that Korzybski's non-aristotelian premises presuppose a specific delimited setting for these undefined terms and these postulates. We can express this setting in English by means of terms such as contacting or transacting, or by a run-on phrase such as "ONE PARTICULAR organism-as-a-whole-dealing-with-its-environment-at-a-date". Or, as the Gestalt therapists Perls, Hefferline & Goodman put it,
We speak of the organism contacting the environment, but it is the contact that is the first and simplest reality.
(Perls, Frederick S., Ralph Hefferline, & Paul Goodman (1951): Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality. Julian Press, New York, p. 227.)
Thus from any "contacting" or "experiencing," one INFERS the polar constructs of "self" and "other," or "I" and "it," or "I" and "thou," etc. -- the basis for the map-territory analogy, in a setting where, one presumes, the maps one generates appear not-identical with the territory mapped.
6. Einstein, Albert (1955): The Meaning of Relativity (Fifth edition) (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1982), p. 1.
7. At the current stage of development of our notation, we use a total of five ordering terms: Besides spatio-temporal Ot and hierarchical Oh , we utilize synchronous Os ("occurring along with, as viewed from a specified position") , co-ordered Oc ("occupying one and only one position in an ordering on abstracting"), and polar Op ("mutually necessary, opposing"). Although we do not explicitly take up the latter three orderings here, each might serve as the basis for a criterion against which to look at physical theories, and might yield findings as unexpected as those presented in the present paper.
Although the constructs of spatio-temporal and synchronous ordering do apply to the "self" component of our setting (e.g. to the functioning of the organism side of the contacting or transacting), we think of them as applying predominantly to the "other" component of our setting. Conversely, although the constructs of hierarchical and co-ordered ordering do apply to the "other" component of the setting, we think of them as applying predominantly to the "self" component.
8. Galileo posited that in order to transform one's viewpoint from one coordinate system (e.g. C ) to another moving with uniform velocity v with respect to C along the common axis x (e.g. C' ), one adds or subtracts a correction factor vt , where t represents the time which has elapsed since C and C' coincided.
x' = x - vt
y' = y
z' = z
t' = t
The Lorentz-Einstein transformations assume these specified conditions, along with the proviso that light propagates at a uniform velocity c which remains constant for all observers regardless of their positions and velocities with respect to each other and with respect to the light source. Their equations include a correction factor in which the square of the velocity of light appears in the denominator of a fraction.
x' = (beta)(x - vt)
y' = y
z' = z
t' = (beta)(t - vx/c2)
where v = relative velocity of the two systems;
c = the constant velocity of light; and
(beta) = 1/ (sqrt) (1 - v2/c2) .
Part of the significance of the tacitly assuming that light has an infinite velocity became apparent after someone noticed, in the early 1900's, that the Lorentz-Einstein transformations reduce to the Galileo transformations provided that we assume that light propagates at an infinite velocity. In the endeavor to make explicit the logical relations between relativistic and Newtonian mechanics, that discovery has come to hold central place. Roemer first measured the velocity of light in the 1670's, some 30 years after Galileo's death and Newton's birth. Obviously, then, neither Galileo nor Newton explicitly attributes any theoretical significance to the velocity of light. But in order to account for this discovered relationship between the Galileo and the Lorentz-Einstein transformations, we attribute to the workers who preceded Einstein a view on this topic, in the guise of an unsuspected or hidden assumption; and we hold that such assumptions can qualify as restricted and restrictive, or even as untenable ("so restrictive as to hold under no circumstances whatsoever"). These logical constructs form the basis for the criterion of logical generality, stated in Note 1.
9. We take phrases such as just knows what really happens, or absolute simultaneity, as concealing a restricted and restrictive assumption of great importance. This assumption makes, on behalf of the view -- the knowing -- in question, an indefensible claim, namely, the claim to absolute certainty.
In our alternative notation, we express this claim by means of the construct of map-territory identity -- in plain English, the delusional idea that one's map or picture of some territory qualifies as identical with the territory itself (qualifies as a point-for-point perfect and exhaustively complete replica of the territory). If map-territory identity obtains, then the map has no "room" left in it for any kind of representation of the map-maker. Or in the language of modern physics, such a map eliminates the observer from consideration.
In contrast, the central tenet of our alternative frame of reference (namely, Korzybski's postulate of Non-identity), rejects (disallows) the possibility of map-territory identity.
We treat the forbidden possibility of map-territory identity as a disqualifying assumption -- any viewpoint which posits such identity thereby renders itself ultimately unacceptable.
For example, the Newtonian construct of absolute simultaneity posits that the construct of time, as encoded in the grammatical structure of languages such as English or analysis, models the relevant aspects of the Universe with perfect fidelity; the unreconstructed construct of just knows what really happened tacitly posits for the entire structure of Newtonian mechanics a similar absolute certainty. And both constructs get criticized, and replaced, in the theory of relativity.
10. Einstein (1955), p. 1.
11. The attitude that "others may have seen something useful to me that I didn't see" forms an absolute pre-requisite for discovering the kind of anomaly (namely, a relativistic discrepancy) which logically leads to the theory of relativity. We find that these anomalies have the following common structure:
a) Observer B makes some observations;
b) B takes in some observations made (under slightly different conditions) by Observer A; or else B considers observations that B made at a different date, and under slightly different conditions;
c) B finds that the two sets of observations DON'T MATCH in some crucial fashion; and
d) B takes on the job of accounting for this so-called "relativistic discrepancy."
The discovery of a relativistic discrepancie requires, and signals the presence of, a new level of trust between modern scientists -- a trusting of themselves and of each other. If, like the traditional Newtonians, Observer B should seek to invalidate and discredit the findings of Observer A which don't match with her/his own observations, then s/he could not ever discover a relativistic discrepancy. The trusting must precede the discovering. The increase in predictability shown by the theory of relativity (and quantum theory), then, follows from this increase in intra-personal and inter-personal trusting.
12. Hilgartner, C. A. (1978): "The Method in the Madness of Western Man." Communication 3:143-242; Hilgartner, C. A., R. V. Harrington & M. A. Bartter (1985a): "Relativity Revisited: The Case for Hierarchical Ordering." (Submitted for publication.); Hilgartner, C. A., R. V. Harrington & M. A. Bartter (1985b): "A Notational Physics with Physicists In It." (Submitted for publication.)
As stated in note 7 above, although the construct of hierarchical ordering does apply to the "other" component of our setting, we regard it as applying predominantly to the "self" component. For example, consider how this construct illuminates the topic of the architectural details of nervous systems: What we call a nervous system consists of elongated neurons, each with a cell body which has, on one end of it, microscopic branches called dendrites and, on the other, a long fiber called an axon. An axon may remain unbranched, or may have thousands of branches; each branch ends in one or more microscopic button(s), called synaptic vesicles. Each synaptic vesicle abuts on a dendrite of another neuron; a microscopic gap remains between the cell membrane of the synaptic vesicle and that of the dendrite. In effect, neurons occur in chains, of a degree of elaborateness and inter-connectedness difficult to imagine. Generally these chains begin in specialized sensory receptor cells, and terminate in effector organs: muscles, glands, etc.
In a functioning nervous system, neurons transmit electro-chemical impulses which usually start in the dendrites and pass to the farthest extent of the last branch of the axon. The impulses propagate at velocities ranging from some 0.5 to 2 meters/second for small, unmyelinated axons to about 40 to 120 meters/second for large, myelinated ones. When a propagated nerve-impulse reaches a synaptic vesicle, it stimulates the release of a small quantity of one of the chemical neurotransmitters, which then diffuses to reach the adjacent portion of the dendrite of the post-synaptic neuron. Some axons facilitate, and others inhibit, discharge of the post-synaptic neuron. Thus the arrival of an impulse from a pre-synaptic fiber sometimes, but not always, initiates an impulse in the post-synaptic neuron. The delay involved in transmission across a synapse amounts to some hundred or so milliseconds. Where an impulse reaches an effector organ, it stimulates some kind of observable reaction: the muscle contracts, the gland secretes, etc.
Clearly, this pattern involves spatio-temporal ordering, as manifested in the shape of the neurons, the finite rate of transmission of propagated impulses, and the finite duration of synaptic delays.
This pattern involves hierarchical ordering as well: Since an impulse from a pre-synaptic neuron does not always initiate an impulse in a given post-synaptic neuron, the process of impulse-transmission across the synapse includes a logical as well as a physical (synaptic) jump. Thus the impulses initiated in post-synaptic neurons occupy a different, logically higher position than do the initiating impulses occurring in the pre-synaptic neurons -- as, in a propositional calculus, a comment or reply occupies a higher position than does the proposition which elicits it.
13. Dewey, John, & Arthur F. Bentley (1949): Knowing and the Known. Boston: Beacon Press. Paperback edition, 1960.
14. Sommerhoff (1950), pp. 164-171, 196; Hilgartner & Randolph (1969c): "The Structure of Empathy." Journal of Theoretical Biology 24:1-29, see pp. 3-4; Hilgartner, Harrington & Bartter, 1985b.
15. Kaufmann (1901); Hilgartner, Harrington & Bartter, 1985b.
16. Sommerhoff, G. (1950): Analytical Biology. London: Oxford University Press; Singer, E. A. (1946): "Mechanism, Vitalism, Naturalism." Philosophy of Science 13:81-99; Ashby, W. Ross (1962): "The Set Theory of Mechanism and Homeostasis." Technical Report No. 7, Electrical Engineering Research Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL; Hilgartner, C. A. & John F. Randolph (1969): "Psycho-logics: An Axiomatic System Describing Human Behavior. 1. A Logical Calculus of Behavior." Journal of Theoretical Biology 23:285-338.
Sommerhoff proposes the construct of directively correlated as a way of accounting for the apparently 'purposive" activities of living systems. Whenever we look in detail at what living systems DO -- at their behavior, ecology, morphology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc. -- we find that whatever particular details we examine seem "goal-directed." They fit into biological activities on the next higher level as if "on purpose," so as make the higher level functions work. Furthermore, underlying whatever details we may examine, we find subsidiary details, occurring on the next lower level of activities (down to atomic and quantum-mechanical levels), which fit in as if "on purpose," so as to make the details under examination also work.
Accounting for these apparently 'purposive' activities has long posed severe problems. Where previous efforts to model these activities (usually in one-to-one terms, as "mechanisms") had failed, Sommerhoff's model, which he expresses in many-to-one terms, succeeds both logically and empirically. To express this model, we define four constructs, which occur in an ordered sequence that spans the interval t0 to t2 . To express the first of these, we utilize two terms ("initial conditions" and "goal"), and posit a strict logical relation between the two.
a) Initial conditions and goal: The construct of initial conditions signifies a grouping of existing or possible "disturbances". When such a disturbance occurs, it initiates the 'purposive' sequence by affecting both organism and environment.
The logically related construct of goal, a subsidiary portion (or "subset") of the construct of "outcome," gives the criterion for an outcome which appears 'favorable' from the point of view of the organism.
Each of these constructs stands as polar to the other: neither could "exist" or "occur" without the real or imagined presence of the other. (If, for example, the "initial conditions" consisted of a "need," e.g. a relative lack of nutrients -- which a human might express by saying, "I feel hungry!" -- then the "goal" consists of the conditions that spell out what it would take to satisfy this "need," e.g. to leave this human feeling well-fed and replete.)
b) Effects of the "initial conditions" on the organism: This construct expresses "what the organism does" when the "disturbances" impinge on it.
c) Effects of the "initial conditions" on the environment: This construct expresses "what the environment does" when the "disturbances" impinge on it.
d) Outcome: The interplay between (b) and (c) leads eventually to an "outcome" of the sequence. This may (or in the negative case, may not) satisfy the "goal," the criterion for "'favorable' from the point of view of the organism."
A directively correlated sequence, then, over the interval t0 to t2 , involves the following doings or happenings:
At t0: the "initial conditions" function;
At t1: "what the organism does" and "what the environment does" in responding to the "initial conditions" takes place;
At t2: the outcome, produced by the interplay between "what the organism does" and "what the environment does," occurs; and it satisfies the "goal," the criterion for what constitutes a 'favorable' outcome from the point of view of the organism.
17. Hilgartner, Harrington & Bartter (1985b).
18. Polanyi (1964), pp. 217-8.
19. Schell, Jonathan (1982). The Fate of the Earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (Borzoi).