Critique of TSW Part 22b The Human Microcosm

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Bill’s belief in free will prevents him from understanding human behavior.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

The Human Microcosm (Part 2 of 2)

TSW:  "... views each act, each motion, of the human microcosm as a means to satisfy some human need."

BW: We assume there is a motive: a cause for the act that is believed to produce some desired effect. But, there may be no conscious motive at all, or the actual effects may be detrimental ... sometimes repeatedly self-destructive. I don't think "satisfy needs" covers the full gamut of human motives, from biological requirements to casual whims.

For example, I jvst substituted the letter 'u' with a 'v'. Certainly, not because I "needed" to do that, since I could have made the point in a
hundred other ways. A "need" to be cute? Just a mistake that I decided to exploit, after the fact? So, I don't think it's accurate to ascribe every human act as motivated by need, nor even motivated - in the sense of rationally intended - at all.

[GB: Your view is typical of those who believe in free will. That is why psychologists need to discard the idea of free will and its assertion that it is futile to look for motives. Because there are material causes for all effects, it is “accurate to ascribe every human act as motivated by need.” All human acts are “motivated - in the sense of rationally intended.” Just because we may not know the rationality behind a particular act, does not mean that it was not rational or that it was illogical. Differing beginning assumptions lead to differing logical conclusions. All acts follow from previous causal acts.]

TSW:  "... needs are particular univironments resulting in particular kinds of behavior."

BW: I realize that you're trying to make the case for your own form of "mechanism", but this isn't a definition. There are five different meanings of the word "need" that have nothing to do with environments motivating behavior. I prefer "a lack of something required", but your assertion doesn't even state the meaning you intend.

[GB: Sorry, but that is a definition. Too bad that it isn’t conventional.]

TSW:  "... all behavior must be seen as liberal action toward a conservative end."

BW: Again, you don't define terms. Do you mean to say that all human acts are "marked by generosity", with the objective of "maintaining existing conditions"? Benevolent slavery? Productive altruism? Or, just an "equilibrium" of opportunities for action?

[GB: Like many of my generalizations, that one was designed to get the reader to think univironmentally. The conservative ends that you mentioned are a few of the thousands that might come to mind. In each case, you would have some “splaining to do,” involving endless detail appropriate to each of them.

Your confusion is akin to that of the Kirkus reviewer who wrote: “Some of Borchardt’s particulars are not as universal as he implies—for instance, ‘all our planning is motivated by the desire to minimize human effort’…’

Unfortunately, with that sentence, that reviewer showed that he missed a major point of the book. In response, I wrote: “Univironmental determinism concludes that “all our planning is motivated by the desire to minimize human effort" by including both the microcosm (the individual) and the macrocosm (the environment) in the analysis. The well-known Principle of Least Effort, like Newton's First Law of Motion, assumes that microcosms, like Newton's inertial objects, cannot, by themselves, increase their motion beyond that which they already possess. That also would be a violation of Conservation, the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that matter and the motion of matter neither can be created nor destroyed. Thus, whenever human effort does not appear to be minimized, one can be sure that important factors have been ignored. I may not take the shortest path to the store because my brain contains the idea (matter in motion) that some extra exercise is good for me.”]

TSW:  "Needs imply imminent behavior ..."

BW: Not necessarily. I have a "need" to write my Unimid Theory. That isn't imminent and it certainly won't result in any kind of "equilibrium". If you define need as a "lack of something imminently required", then my only need is to inhale the next breath. By another meaning, I only need to eat and defecate. By another, I have a need to overcome gravity or achieve peace on Earth. To my mind, you need to distinguish between "need", desire, preference, and whim. Otherwise, it's hard to tell what you're talking about.

[GB: That is easy. I define everything you mentioned as a need. The upshot is that if all those needs were satisfied, you would not do anything at all.]

TSW:  "The most important point through all of this is to maintain sight of what it is that we study: the main features of the microcosm in relation to the main features of the macrocosm."

BW: I think you just dropped your insistence on *universal* causation by adding the prefix "main features", which implies that whatever objects you're talking about have a unique identity, characterized by their features and essential characteristics.

[GB: Not true. Remember that, theoretically, the Second Assumption of Science, causality (All effects have an infinite number of material causes) obtains in all cases. Practically, however, we can only discover a few of those causes. Whether we could discover an infinite number or only a few, each microcosm still would have a unique identity, as reiterated in the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things).]

TSW:  "... we cannot have definite knowledge of a person’s needs until they have been met."

BW: So, your prior assertion of the need to predict has just disappeared, since you now assert that we can never know any motive prior to the act.

[GB: Remember the word “definite.” As per uncertainty, we can predict even though none of our predictions can be absolutely accurate. It is the difference between these two statements: 1) Will the chicken cross the road? 2) Did the chicken cross the road? The answers: 1) Maybe 2) Definitely yes or no.]

TSW:  "The so-called 'need' of the microcosm is met only through a complementary 'need' of the macrocosm."

BW: Now, you're converting to a euphemistic "need", embodied in two arbitrary, subjective domains. You're making a flat assertion about vague abstracts. Why is not the inverse true: that the "need" of the macrocosm is met only through the "need" of the microcosm? Does an atom of carbon in my body "need" my next breath? I don't think so.

[GB: You missed the univironmental point again. A microcosm cannot exist without its macrocosm. An atom of carbon does not exist all alone in the universe. It may not need your breath, but it sure could not exist for long if the macrocosm became antagonistic to it (extremely high temperature and pressure, for instance).]

TSW:  "Each tiny submicrocosm within the microcosm of Huck’s body moves toward univironmental equilibrium."

BW: Huck may "need" to adapt to the macrocosmic meteorite that will shortly destroy Huck, the apple, the tree and everything else in his microcosm. Or, the macrocosmic Huck may never eat the apple at all ... because his perceived hunger pains might actually be the microcosm of a burst appendix, seeking "equilibrium". The example is meaningless IF you're simply asserting that the universe is far too complex to ever identify the cause of Huck's act, much less predict it, then you're asserting that you have nothing relevant to say.

[GB: Missed again. That example shows how each microcosm in the universe, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large, responds to its macrocosm.]

TSW:  "Needs typically are seen by [systems philosophers] as internally derived, inborn, instinctive, and, above all, static."

BW: So, you are a systems philosopher: Huck's hunger is internally derived, inborn in his nature, his act is naturally instinctive, and his desire for
apples is static. It's strange how you bounce around from one paragraph to the next. Either you *hate* system philosophy, or you use it to explain

[GB: Remember that systems philosophy, by definition, overemphasizes the microcosm. With univironmental determinism, we assume that the microcosm and macrocosm play equal parts in determining what can happen. Our analysis must necessarily consider submicrocosms as well as supermicrocosms in any particular interaction. I suppose you could say that we were being systems philosophers any time we devote a few microseconds to submicrocosms without devoting the same few microseconds to supermicrocosms. Sobeit. How could it be done any other way?]

TSW:  "... the god-given needs of the indeterminists ..."

BW: More hyperbole. System philosophers are almost universally atheists and determinists, not theists.

[GB: Huh? How do you know any of that? Folks who overemphasize the system are not even good classical determinists.]

TSW:  "Any human behavior obviously not linked to what indeterminists regard as a legitimate need is considered irrational and uncaused."

BW: So, you would consider all human needs to be legitimate, rational, and determined? I need to jump tall buildings in a single bound. Legitimate? If not, why? Rational? By what standard? Determined? By what, other than my "need" to supersede my nature and the existence of gravity? Your statement is just hyperbole.

[GB: That statement is correct. Again, that is why folks who study human behavior try to discover the logic and the causes involved. What is logical or rational for one person may not be logical or rational for another. You will never understand the crazy things people do without tracing the causal chain back to its roots. Jihadists, for instance, may appear to be irrational to those who have not read the same books.]

BW: I'll divide this chapter into several sections, which all deal with different causes of "needs".

Next: Heredity-Environment Muddle

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