Re: intersubjectivity (was crazy people)

Tim A. Connor (
Wed, 16 Apr 1997 14:20:26 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 14 Apr 1997, Jones, John WEN wrote:

> I know that
> Maturana and Varela speak in terms of structured coupling in regards to
> interpersonal relationships and common understanding. But I'm not really
> sure how commonality and sociality would fit with radical constructivism if
> we do not have at least some critical understanding of our interactions in
> the world. What are your thoughts?


This is something I've wrestled with a bit too, and I really don't feel
confident of any particular conclusion. I have a hard time getting a feel
for what structural coupling between organizationally closed systems would
mean in concrete (human) terms, unless it's the same thing as the
sociality corollary. It does sometimes seem to me that structure
determinism is an awful lot like radical behaviorism, only with the
stimulus-response chain a closed circuit entirely contained within the
organism. If one were to consider organizational closure as a fuzzy
principle (some systems are more closed than others) rather than as an
absolute, it might be productive. I do think that, in spite of certain
points of contact between SD and PCP, they seem to emerge from very
different models. In Pepper's typology, I see SD as organismic with a
strong mechanistic slant (as might have been expected from a
biologically-based theory); PCP as contextualist (with a twist of
dialecticalism, which is not one of Pepper's root metaphors, but should
have been, IMHO).

I do think that PCP needs to develop a clearer focus on issues of how
language and culture structure construing--especially in linking the
sociality and commonality corollaries to each other (and to the other 11),
something that I've never seen done in a really satisfactory way. I don't
think GAK meant to deemphasize them (far from it), but by putting them
last he may have had that effect, leading to PCP having a more
individualistic spin than it need have. Commonality in particular seems
left out in the cold, since we don't seem to have any very good account of
how people would come to construe things similarly. Any thoughts?