17.250 blind variation & selective retention

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 01:52:28 EDT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 250.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: lachance@origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois (27)
             Subject: Re: 17.249 the blind man's knowing

       [2] From: lhomich <lhomich@ualberta.ca> (9)
             Subject: RE: 17.249 the blind man's knowing

             Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 06:45:32 +0100
             From: lachance@origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 17.249 the blind man's knowing


    The researcher as individual may lead to the adoption of the blind man
    analogy. As you invite subscribers :

    > proceed with inadequate guidance. Vincenti likens the engineer-researcher
    > (include yourself in this noble company) to a blind man with a cane walking
    > down an unfamiliar street, not randomly, not without purpose,
    > intelligence or direction, but blindly, learning as he can from the taps of
    > his cane. This is us.

    I read a plural in that "us" that undermines the analogy.

    I'm intrigued how Donald T. Campbell's work could underwrite the move to
    the blind man analogy (yes, there is the use of the term _blind_). I think
    there is quite a leap from "blind variation" - not knowing which variation
    might be selected - to a disquisition on randmoness and purpose as
    figured by the navigation of the blind person. I think it is imperative
    to distinguish between the generation of variations and the selection of
    variations. .

    Campbell's work in epistemology also highlights "vicarious selectors". For
    relevant links, see a Campbell obituary by F. Heylighen, accessible online
    from Principia Cybernetica


    If "us" is a system,
    then some of "us" produces variation by blind trial-and-error
    and some of "us" selects some of those variations for retention.

    Of course the "us" system can be embodied in one individual who can both
    play and adjudicate.

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

    --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 06:46:01 +0100 From: lhomich <lhomich@ualberta.ca> Subject: RE: 17.249 the blind man's knowing

    Dear Colleagues:

    'The blind man's knowing' (17.249) got me thinking about the parable of the blind men and the elephant: no one thinks to ask the elephant's opinion about being felt up by strangers. In our explorations, we can always ask what effect we are having, and proceed with careful consideration for subject and territory. Although we may be 'blind' (perhaps 'ignorant' would be a better word?), we are not senseless.

    Eric Homich M.A. student, Humanities Computing / English University of Alberta

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Sep 18 2003 - 01:58:12 EDT