Marian Mazur, Cybernetyka i charakter. Wyd. 1, PIW, Warszawa 1976.


This book presents a cybernetic theory of human character.

In contrast to the common practice of observing individuals in order to generalize human behaviour, the author's main idea is to consider the human being as a particular case of a general concept („autonomous system"), and to make use of the principle saying that every generał statement applies to all particular cases. For the sake of a better understanding of this idea some methodological preliminaries are given.

1. Cybernetics

To begin with, the present state of science is analyzed. It is pointed out that, besides abstract problems (logics and mathematics) and monodisciplinary problems (special disciplines) of traditional science, modern science comprises multidisciplinary problems (cooperation of special disciplines) and interdisciplinary problems (cybernetics).

Three ways of treating cybernetics are shown: 1) didactic cybernetics, for a clearer presentation of known phenomena by modelling them, 2) formal cybernetics, searching for new information by determination of possibilities, and 3) physical cybernetics, searching for new information by determination of necessities ("if something must be, then it is"). Just the last is applied in this book.

2. Terminological conventions

There are two ways of defining general concepts: 1) by explanation of terms, and 2) by terminological conventions. The author considers the first to be a bad habit provoking useless arguments about the meaning of words, as if the choice of problems to be solved depended on terms, instead of the reverse. Therefore all essential concepts in this book are defined by terminological conventions.

3. Theoretical and empirical cognizance

The widespread opinion that every theory should be empirically verified is put into question. It is pointed out that weak theoretical statements should be verified by strong empirical statements whilst weak empirical statements should be verified by strong theoretical statements. The cybernetic theory presented in this book is a strong one.

4. System

The cybernetic approach consists in considering investigated objects to be composed of distinct elements, the set of interrelated elements being called "system". The rigours and advantages of such an approach are elucidated.

5. Coupling

Many theorems concerning interactions between coupled systems are given. Their practical application is profusely illustrated, especially by examples of interpersonal relations. Those theorems reveal the falsity of many intuitive opinions about such matters.

6. Control

It is shown, on cybernetic grounds, that all possible problems can be divided into six groups. The first three of them concern cognizance of: 1) facts, 2) properties, 3) relations, whilst three others concern decision making on: 4) purposes, 5) methods, 6) means. Then, "control" being defined as such behaviour of one system which provokes the predetermined behaviour of another system, it is pointed out that in every control process there must be mutual dependence of purposes on methods (informational agents) and means (energetical agents).

7. Information

It is emphasized that in contrast to "amount of information" which is a theoretical concept defined by a terminological convention, the term "information", unfortunately, is used in the literaturę on information theory in various meanings taken mainly from non-scientific language or, quite improperly, as a synonym of "amount of information". In order to define "information" by an appropriate convention, the control linę is considered to comprise a set of physicai states ("signals") in which longitudinal transformation ("code") and transversal transformation ("information") are distinguished. It leads to the mathematical formuła expressing information as the quotient of energy flow to conductance rise in the controlling system. On this basis the physicai naturę of memorizing, forgetting, and recalling is explained. A very important kind of information is "parainformation", i. e. transversal transformation taking place even if a longitudinal transformation is lacking, provided that necessary conductance rise provoked by some previous control process already exists. It explains physically the phenome-non of understanding information (language, allusions, humour etc). Also, the everlasting esthetical question of "form and content" is solved.

8. The search for comprehension of human nature

After that introduction into the principles of cybernetics a short historical essay on polemics between scientists and anthropocentric doct-rinaires is given. Further, the author demonstrates that the problem of character in human behaviour cannot be solved in physiology by an investigation of energomaterial processes in the human brain, or in psychology by an investigation of informational processes such as feelings, desires etc. There is a gap between those disciplines, because, they cannot answer the question of how energomaterial and informational processes in the human organism are interconnected. Human behaviour being a control process, this is a cybernetic problem.

9. Human being as an autonomous system

In accordance with this statement, the author worked out a concept of "autonomous system" defined as a system: 1) able to control itself, and 2) able to preserve its ability to control itself. The first condition requires organs for reception and accumulation of both energy and information. The second condition requires an organ maintaining functional equilibrium of energetical and informational processes (homeostasis). It is demostrated that a human being is an autonomous system. Thus, any statement resulting from the analysis of the autonomous system applies to the human being.

10. Psyche

Analysis of informational processes from the physical point of view (potentials, conductances, energy flow) elucidates the physical naturę of psychical phenomena: memory, emotions, retlections, intuition, consciousness, thinking, motivation, decision making, etc.

11. Physiological and sociological energy

Internal (physiological) and external (sociological) energetical processes are distinguished. It means that any work can be done either by the human organism itself (by personal effort) or by other sources of energy (thanks to machines, money, subordinates, relatives, friends etc).
Physiological energy consists of three components: 1) basie energy, serving to maintain aptness to react, 2) working energy, serving to supply the organism with energy transformable into physiological energy, and 3) free energy, serving to acquire sociological energy in order to diminish working energy (amelioration of life conditions). It is demonstrated that physiological energy during the lifetime of man must initially inerease, reach maximum, and then decrease. The point of time at which physiological energy becomes smaller than the basic energy is the end of existence.

12. Behaviour

On the basis of the preceding considerations it is demonstrated that human behaviour with regard to kinds of reactions ("methods") depends on informational processes (emotions, reflections), and with regard to intensities of reactions ("means") depends on energetical processes (physiological energy, tensions), informational and energetical processes being interconnected by internal regulation processes tending towards functional eąuilibrium ("purposes"). It explains why even weak stimuli can provoke strong reactions whilst strong stimuli can be insufficient to provoke reactions, and how it happens that people sometimes act against their interests (e.g. commit suicide). Also, there is a physical explanation of such phenomena as loss of consciousness, sleep, and dreams.

13. Character

Control parameters are grouped into rigid ones (constant or changing independently) and elastic ones. Ensemble of rigid control parameters is called "character" (it is no to be confused with the psychological term "personality" relating to symptoms of human behaviour, not its source). Rigidity of control parameters means that nobody's character can be changed by compulsion or persuasion or even self-persuasion. Thus, in order to establish conformity between one's character and one's situation the only possibility is to change the situation, not the character. The situation conforms to the character, if it conforms to all parameters of character.

14. Level of character

Efficiently of control (behaviour) depends on the number of recorded associations ("level of character"). In turn, this parameter of character depends: 1) on the number of informational elements (factor of intelligence), 2) on the proximity of informational elements (factor of talent), and 3) on the rate of conductance rise (factor of memory). Through a combination of the low and high values of these factors a list of eight intellect types has been compiled. The level of character is important in education, ethics, esthetics etc.

15. Dynamism of character

The most important parameter of character is "dynamism of character" determined by the relation between dispersion and accumulation of energy. It is possible to establish a continuous scale of dynamism, but, with regard to terminological convenience, it is divided into five "character classes" comprising strong negative dynamism (endodynamism), feeble negative dynamism (endostatism), zero dynamism (statism), feeble positive dynamism (exostatism), and strong positive dynamism (exodynamism). From this point of view, about forty theorems are formulated on various aspects of human behaviour such as life trends, attitudes, ideas, feelings, desires, fancies, activities, motives, convictions, remembrances, receiving and giving information, decision making, etc.
It is demonstrated that dynamism must inevitably change in time from positive to negative. It means that children are exodynamic; this conclusion is confirmed by empirical facts with astounding accuracy. Taking in account that further evolution; of dynamism can be accelerated in some individuals and retarded in others, it is evident that in the first case they reach the stage of endodynamism at an early age whereas in the second they remain exostatic or static for a long time and never become endodynamic or even endostatic. These statements can be particularly instructive to educators who, in fact, compel pupils to behave in the static way in spite of their exostatic or even exodynamic character.

16. Broadness of character

As in regulating any quantity, there is a zone of dynamism in which stimuli are accepted ("tolerance"). Over and above there is a zone in which stimuli can only be imposed ("softness"). Tolerance and softness are components of "broadness of character" determining a zonę beyond which stimuli are rejected. The broader the character of partners, the easier are interpersonal relations. Nevertheless, it is essential to determine whether each partner has a broad character owing to great tolerance (mutual satisfaction) or to great softness (mutual concessions).

17. Characterological configurations

The author discusses the influence of character classes on tendencies in interpersonal relations, the ensemble of character classes of partners being called "characterological configuration". For any partner, four kinds of tendencies can be distinguished: 1) towards the partner of the same character class (solidarity, friendship), 2) towards the partner of the senior character class (submission, adoration), 3) towards the partner of the junior character class (wardship, protection), 4) towards the partner of the opposite character class (attachment, love). The fast characterological configuration is extremely important in matrimonial matching. A list of all possible characterological configurations has been compiled.
The importance of knowing the partner's true character is emphasized. A warning is given against characterological illusions due to: 1) error, 2) mistification, 3) imposition. Finally, the rapid transformation of imposed character into a true one ("crystallisation of character") is described.

Cyfryzacja - W.D. (autonom@o2.pl).

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