I shall drop the subject at this point, hoping that in the not too far distant
future a cybernetician who is better than I will succeed in developing a more detailed
model from which inferences can be drawn that are open to experimental verification.
But it seems to me to be pertinent to add some remarks on the epistemological standpoint
that is implied in these considerations. The standpoint in question is strict
critical realism. True, this construction contains a dogma, i.e., an assertion
that can neither be verified nor disproved. I mean the assumption that behind the
world of the immediately given, behind the world of percepts, the presumed reality
of the naive realist, there exists another world that to the phenomenal world has
the relation of the original to its image but in itself is metaphenomenal or transphenomenal.
That means that by its very nature it evades every direct observation and is therefore
excluded from scientific thinking by positivism. However we are compelled to grant
its existence as the link X by which the experiences of all subjects, or
more generally living beings equipped with distance receptors can be coordinated,
or, to put it more exactly, by which the existing and demonstrable coordination
of their experiences can be explained. Without this coordination any formation of
coherent groups and cooperation would be impossible, if we do not return to the
absurd assumption of preestablished harmony in LEIBNIZ's sense.
Without the assumption of this coordinating principle neither a theory of perception
consistent in itself nor a theory of social intercourse and supra-individual grouping
would be possible. And without the supplementary assumption that the world, as immediately
given, is constituted by processes that go on within our own - transphenomenal -
organism, no consistent pathology of perception is possible, as we shall see a little
First I have to add that both diagrams I showed you before were only partial
representations of the critical realistic construction. In order to exclude any
misunderstanding I shall now exhibit the complete diagram as it can be found in
a contribution by Norbert BISCHOF to the first volume of the large German handbook
SO = Sense Organs , PPL = Psychophysical Level (in the cortex)
WS = World Scheme, BS = Body Scheme
oPsPh = Outer Psychophysics
iPsPh = Inner Psychophysics
I = Perception
II = Physical Investigation
III = Neurophysiological Investigation
( )a = Referring to Outside World resp. World Scheme
( )b = Referring to Organism resp. Body Scheme
no stroke = Physical Transmission Processes
one stroke ' = Perceptual Processes
two strokes '' = Rational Processes
'Scheme' is used here in the Sense of a Cortical Dynamic Structure corresponding immediately to a 'Percept', an 'Image' or a 'Perceived Object' (including the Ego) in the Phenomenal World.
This diagram differs from the foregoing ones in various respects. First: all
elements that refer to the steering function of the field of perception are omitted.
Second: the so called psychophysical level of the cerebrum and the world of perception
were represented as coinciding in the first and second diagrams, while in BISCHOF's
scheme they are separately represented as parallel, somewhat better corresponding
to the present state of our knowledge. To the left, within the transphenomenal organism,
the cerebral body-pattern (Körperschema after Paul SCHILDER) appears inside
the cerebral world-pattern. To the right, beyond the double line that separates
the physiological from the phenomenal, the phenomenal bodily ego appears inside
the phenomenal surroundings which is identical with the reality of the naive realist.
Third: BISCHOF's diagram contains some hint to the connection existing between the
tendencies of the bodily ego and the state of the motor system within the transphenomenal
organism which for the sake of clarity had been omitted in the preceding diagrams.
But the fourth and decisive feature of this third diagram of BISCHOF's is that on
the side of the conscious phenomena - to the right - below the representation of
the naive-phenomenal world it also contains a representation of the critical-phenomenal
world in which, corresponding to the above discussion, the bodily ego and the whole
world of perception appear inside the organism and the organism within the physical
environment which, together with the organism, is thought to be the transphenomenal
While the naive-phenomenal world of the immediately given (above) originates
directly from the unselected simulation of the sense organs, including the after-effects
of preceding stimulation stored in memory, the critical phenomenal world (below)
in its distinctive features originates from "scientific findings" - above
all from the observation of coincidence between pointers and lines on the scales
of various measuring instruments - which are also sensory phenomena but a kind of
such phenomena that are preferred in science because they have proved to be most
invariant against any kind of disturbance in transmission. This makes them the most
reliable basis for theoretical reflection. The critical-phenomenal world that is
constructed on this basis is the quintessence of the scientific picture of the world.
Or, to put it more exactly: the world as it looks to the scientist who is relatively
the most advanced among his colleagues for the time being at any given phase of
scientific development. This "world as it looks'' sometimes changes rather
rapidly, while the "world as it is" is much more permanent. It contained
atoms and electrons when nobody thought of them, it never contained a matter like
phlogiston, and the number of planets has not increased in it since the 16th century,
when nobody dreamed of the existence of Neptun or Pluto. This is one of the reasons
why the philosophical reduction of the "world as it is'' to the "world
as it is believed to be" (by the scientist), a reduction that belonged to the
main endeavors of the neo-Kantian philosophy and is still maintained e.g. by K.
HOLZKAMP, is finally not possible. There is still another reason. The impingements
upon our organism by which our phenomenal world comes into existence must stem from
a transphenomenal world. They cannot come from the stock of scientific knowledge
we have drawn from the totality of our everyday and systematic experiences. It is
true, this stock of knowledge may substitute for the transphenomenal reality in
our discussions concerning the world. But if reality corresponded to this simplification,
it would be inconceivable how anything new and unexpected should ever occur or appear
in our phenomenal world. In other words, it would be incomprehensible how every
spot of our phenomenal world could be so obviously open to ever-changing influxes
coming from a sphere X that cannot lie in it, as Oskar GRAEFE has con-tended
against the phenomenalism of Kurt LEWIN.
Our own actions, too, must have effects on a transphenomenal reality and cause
changes there. Otherwise it would be inconceivable how these actions can, together
with their effects or consequences, appear in the phenomenal worlds of other persons,
and that these consequences need not be observed there at the same time but their
observation can be separated from our own activity by time intervals of any length.
This possibility presupposes an X that preserves the effects of my activity long
beyond their existence in my own phenomenal world. To give an instance: I may build
a footbridge in the desert; and another person may find it and pass over it many
There remains the naive-realistic objection that the world immediately experienced
by us as supporting us is characterized by such traits of firmness, stability, and
independence from ourselves that it appears to be an unreasonable demand that we
should consider it as a correlate of ever changing cerebral processes, processes
that occur within our own organism. But this objection is invalidated by the fact
that the independence of the outer environment from the subject is only very approximately
true. Let me mention briefly the facts that can be understood only by assuming that
their immediate correlates are to be localized within our own organism:
1) The change of view, i.e. of the mode of apperception as a means of mentally
modifying the outer environment.
2) The occurrence of strictly psychical phenomena, as feelings or moods etc. outside the subject, in the extreme instance in so-called FREUDian projection.
3) The exterior localization of dreams, apparitions, phantoms, and hallucinati-ons, yet even in the so-called eidetic phenomena, after-images etc., not to forget the objects of thought and their motivations within the thought process.
4) The structural discrepancies, as, e.g., in camouflage.
5) The metric deviations, as in visual illusions which are not a laboratory affair, i.e. not an affair of paper and pencil but a universal phenomenon found in any tri-dimensional object as soon as we make the measurements necessary to discover them.
6) The modifications, distortions, alterations of the outer world - including one's own body -during psychoses, poisoning, and cerebral lesions, which have been frequently described.
What concerns the two fundamental and indispensable theses of critical realism,
1) that the world of what is immediately given is of an organismic nature, and
2) that there exists a transphenomenal world which, among other things, embraces our own organisms and becomes the means by which the perceptive worlds of different observers are coordinated,
we may finally say: The second at least is not verifiable; but the multitude
of findings that can be derived from both and understood by them is so immense and
so various that they are absolutely sufficient to get the facts in focus that are
postulated in the above statements, even in the face of great demands concerning
The phenomenal world has been described in my presentation as a central steering
organ in the sense of cybernetics.
In this organ, duplicates of the outer objects and the organism can interact
in a way which, as a consequence of their very nature, is not possible for the originals.
This interaction is transferred to the effector organs by circular processes so
that the organism is enabled to move in its environment just as if it were immediately
controlled by field forces, which do actually not exist there.
Thus the phenomenal world must be considered as the decisive intervening
variable in behavior as observed from outside.
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