RALPH KENYON
EXTRAPOLATOR
SEP 25, 1978

C. A. Hilgartner
307 Berkeley Street
Rochester, NY 14607

Dear Andy,

Greetings and well wishes. I hope you do not take unkindly to my unabashed criticism of your efforts.  I do what I would hope that others would do for me.  I know my own learning is greatly enhanced by the severest of criticism.  I apologize if I have not given enough depth to proper criticism to your work.  I feel that my limited understanding of "A New Formalize . . ." precludes or limits, etc, my understanding of "A Human Studying . . .".  As I read and re-read this paper, certain "associations" are evoked which I'll make note of.  This does not purport to be a critical review, but merely some intuitive references and comments.

Reading this paper brings to mind On Purposeful Systems by Russell L. Ackoff and Fred E. Emery, Aldene-Atherton, Inc., Chicago, 1973. In that book, 'function', 'purpose', and 'structure' seem (to me) to be given "content" in some way similar to (implicit, or at least partially, according to my intuiting) the method of "notational defining" ("A New Formalized Language" pg. 33)

"The meaning of purpose depends upon the meaning of function and function is used throughout this book in contrast with structure."

What I find relevant to this indication is that Ackoff and Emery illustrate structural complexity in relation to the distinction between "goal seeking" an "purposeful".  Perhaps by introducing this structure you could provide more acceptable "technical" terms for "hungrier".  I find the assertion that even such lowly organisms as E. Coli have structure sufficiently complex that behavior varies according to "inferred" internal state changes (i.e. self-sensing) tenable.

While I originally wrote Think-feel and Know-act to apply primarily to human beings, I have remarked in a letter to Bob Pula that this six stage model is "generalizable" to most all living organisms, (possibly even to E. Coli).  It would require a complete rewrite to apply to that level, however. On Purposeful Systems provides a verbal structure to show structurally determined "purposeful" level behavior.  I infer that your language is intended to have "obligatory" structure which makes explicit the hierarchically interdetermined consequences, implicitly indicating the "agent" assigning hierarchical ordering on abstracting.

On page 11, "PRIMARILY COMPRISE".  Survival-oriented hypothesis result after extensive co-evolving with variability in neuro-linguistic processes and the structure of "the environment".  In order to take a perspective from within the perceiving system (as in looking through a telescope) each "perception" must be regarded as "an hypothesis".  The organismic response to the hypothesis (perception) (the hypothesis is not that which may have generated or induced it) permits "refutation" of erroneous "hypothesis" but merely provides "not-disconfirmed" status for other "hypotheses".  (when in the course of responding to hypotheses, the organism is held to account for the validity of the hypothesis).  To "see" one's own hand "means" at a more structured level of description, to "project" an "image" of our hand onto a location, consistent with past projecting, in response to conditioned associations of projections.  We respond to these associations as if they were "the projected object".

To use the language of Don Kerr, if we are to be understood, we must choose symbols to evoke "experiential" elements within the hearer. If the hearer does not have these experiential elements, they must first acquire or "experience" that which may serve as a referent for the symbols.  Then, and only then, an abstraction designed to "evoke" those elements can function in the proper manner. when you write of a g.s. perspective using g.s. terms to those who have not had any experiential referents for the terms, there is nothing for the terms to evoke. Before one can/will learn g.s., one must have experienced a "problem" which cannot be solved without g.s. That problem serves as an experiential element to provide a foundation for the abstract terms of g.s. Consciousness of abstracting allows us to participate in selecting from among more than one, those experiential elements we structure as a (hypothetical) model of the verbal abstract symbols.

A (famous) verse has it:

If I hear, I forget,
If I see, I remember,
But if I do, then, I understand.

We of g.s. have long been accustomed to the "hypothetical" character of our knowledge and our perceptions; however, I think the more "traditional" experimental scientists, especially those who have not closely examined the philosophical aspects of, and epistemological considerations of, "sense data" can be likened to the Logical Positivists or the Naive Realist.  I do not believe these people bring any "experiential" referents to serve as possible referents for "perceiving primarily comprise survival-oriented hypothesis".  Why, you might as well say -- "Twas Brilling and ...".  Aside from my pessimism regarding the likelihood of "most" others to understand your paper, I feel comfortable with what I infer you intend regarding ". . . Perceiving primarily comprise survival-oriented hypothesis".

I would like to make a "simpler" suggestion about the proposed experiments which still takes into account "epistemological considerations", but, which does not make use of so many "anthropomorphological" terms (vis. "hungrier", "ignores", etc.)

I suggest that we have "drawn a distinction" among chemicals, for a given species of E. Coli, according to "attractant", or "repellant" (or neutral) without regard for possible "relative" states of the organism.  A further distinction among the "relative proportions" of these chemicals may be expected with reference to "deprivation" using a nutritional model.  The simple distinction between "repellant" or "attractant" does not make allowance for internal structural responses to these chemicals.  As we know that among humans, people will risk dangerous conditions to obtain what they desire, with risk increasing in proportion to their desire (or in behavioral terms, how long they have "gone without" [experienced deprivation]).  At some level in the phylogenetic scale, this "internal state sensing" bust be exhibited.  It's my contention that even such lowly organisms as E. Coli will exhibit deprivationally contingent changes in the relative proportion of concentrations of combinations of both "attractants" and "repellants".  A detailed study of the various changes should permit the inference of the structure of the "self sensing" component.

Prof. Jeujin's comment #10 uses "learning".  B.R. Hergenhan's An Introduction to Theories of Learning, Prentice Hall, 1976, renders meaningless such a comment.  "To assume learning" is simply to defer structural understanding (which I infer you, at least, attempt to provide).  His comment seems to me to represent "tacit" agreement not to look too deeply into the structure of learning.  [It should be noted that there are some "systems" which exhibit "learning" but do not exhibit "self" referentially.  More properly they represent "self adjusting".  For example, the incremental adjustment of the constant in part of the evaluation function in, say, for example, one of the computer chess programs, changes a part of "the self" {take a look at Perceptrons by Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert, MIT Press, 1972 (1969)}].

I must admit that this paper held my interest less than the other two.  That does not reflect on you or on the paper; it is "self referentially" an indication more of my own interests.  I am enclosing a copy of my letter to Science in response to Gunther Stent's article (to which you refer).  Also enclosed is a copy of an article on Accuracy and Precision which relates to my comments about what statistics is about.

Since I have now provided, as you indicated was "interesting to you", reaction to your letter and your article, I feel free to request reciprocation.  Enclosed are two items for which I would be interested in your reaction/criticism, etc. Think-feel and Know-act is a straight forward extrapolation/synthesis.  The Institute of General Semantics is not so straight forward. It is a revision of previous version taking into account, partially, criticism provided by Charlotte, Read.  I am seeking to use interaction with many others to enhance my own understanding, learn of my own "blind spots", etc. while developing a relatively concise summary of "what is subsumed under the term" 'General Semantics'.  I have two inputs on this and would appreciate any comments you would care to make.  Some portions of this article are undoubtedly unfounded while other parts must have some "error". I have had the By-laws and Articles of Incorporation for the Institute during the writing and recognize that not all intentions and purposes are being realized (by the Institute).

Of course, I would be happy to and interested in any comments you might have regarding my letters to you as well.

Do you anticipate developing "A New Formalized Language" in the direction of a text?

I hope that my comments may prove useful in some way. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
145-103 S. Budding Ave.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Encl:
The Institute of General Semantics Mar 13, 1978
Think-feel and Know-act Aug 12, 1978


Annotated bibliography of general semantics papers
General Semantics and Related Topics

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