Logical Learning Levels and Psychotherapy

Coaching does not teach, but helps to learn.
Timothy Galvey
We can study, study study,
maybe study study study.
Gregory Bateson

Gregory BatesonGregory Bateson is one of the most influential thinkers of our time (according to Fridtjof Kapra, “The Tao of Physics”), whose work combines knowledge from epistemology, cybernetics, anthropology, psychology, ecology. One of Bateson’s most fundamental concepts is the idea of ​​logical levels of learning and communication.

Its foundation lies in the theory of logical types of Bertrand Russell, which can be summarized as follows: all objects of thought are organized in a kind of hierarchy, the zero type of which includes individual objects (for example, a spoon). The first type includes sets of objects of the zero type (for example, spoons as a set); to the second, sets of sets of these objects (for example, “cutlery” as a set that combines spoons, forks, knives and other devices) , etc. Thus, a strict distinction is made between objects, properties of objects, properties of properties of objects , etc. e.

As applied to learning, the theory of logical types is as follows.

Learning levels

Zero level learning is a linear response to environmental change. For example, when a person "learned" to recognize by the battle of the clock that twelve o'clock comes. This happens in the simplest cases - laboratory training of animals, genetic determination, in simple electronic circuits, and so on.
(Bateson, incidentally, notes that as part of his definition, many very simple mechanical devices show at least the phenomenon of zero learning, so the question is not “can machines learn,” but “what level of training can this machine achieve ". The ability to achieve training at a certain level is directly related to the ability of the system (in the case of a person - a brain neurosubstrate) to form circuits with an appropriate level of recursion.)

Primary training -training-I  - occurs when the subject of training can give different responses to the same change in different contexts. This, for example, is habituation or conditioning in Pavlov’s experiments, in which the dog, after training, releases saliva in response to a call, and before training, it does not.

Here Bateson introduces the concept of “context”, which determines the choice from different sets of responses: training-I is the change in response due to the adjustment of the choice from a given set of responses. Learning II is a change in the learning process -I , that is, it is an adjustment of the set of alternatives from which the choice is made; or this is a change in the breakdown of the sequence of experience.
As an exampletraining-II Bateson cites, for example, the phenomenon of “transference”: N. brings his past ideas about interactions with some significant other into his relations with another (for example, a therapist). Accordingly, N. will act and speak in such a way as to force the therapist to respond in a way that resembles N.'s ideas about the treatment of this significant other (in Freud's case, these were parents without any alternative, in practice the picture can be much more complicated). That is, in terms of Bateson, N. will try to arrange an exchange with a therapist in accordance with the premises of his (N.) past training-II .

Training III and psychotherapy

“Learning III is a change in the process of learning II,” that is, it is an adjustment in the system of those sets of alternatives from which a choice is made. Since the prerequisites for learning-ll are self-validating, it is clear that learning-III must be difficult and rare even in human beings. And for scientists who are also human, it’s hard enough to imagine or describe this process. However, something similar happens from time to time with psychotherapy, coaching, religious conversion, "enlightenment" and in other situations where a deep reorganization of character occurs.

In Bateson's understanding, the effectiveness of psychotherapy is determined by the substitution of the premises obtained in training II - which in itself is a difficult task, especially when you consider that these prerequisites are self-confirming in nature, and besides this, they are mainly not conscious of man. (Their unconsciousness follows from the characteristics of human evolution and physiology: “any characteristic - anatomical, physiological or behavioral - if it remains adaptive for a considerable period of time, will sink deeper and deeper into the organizational structure of the system”).

(There is also a close connection between the concept of “I” and the levels of learning, since the feeling and concept of “I” itself is to a large extent a product of training-II - accordingly, training-III should be associated with going beyond the boundaries of this concept, this concept and of this understanding: “The concept of“ I ”no longer functions as a central argument in the punctuation of experience.” This thesis also resonates with many descriptions of religious experience, where “personality” ceases to matter - and with the characteristics of the trance state repeatedly described in the literature I, where the boundaries of the "I" are modified and blurred.)

" Learning IV will be a change in Learning III , but it seems that it does not occur in any adult terrestrial organisms."

Learning Level III Experiment

Training and reinforcement at different levels occurs in different ways . At training level I, receiving a positive response (for example, receiving a dolphin fish from a trainer) confirms the "correctness" of some action. At training level II, the same response is confirmed by an understanding of the context (for example, a dolphin's understanding of his relationship, possibly instrumental or dependent, with this trainer).

But the “reinforcement” at Learning III ceases to be so obvious. As Bateson suggests, “the creature is pushed to Learning Level III by the “ contradictions ”generated at Learning Level II, then it can be expected that the resolution of these contradictions will be a positive reinforcement at the level of training III . Such permission can take many forms. ”

The classical experiment on reaching the level of training III is as follows:
- the dolphin in the demonstration pool was used to show the public the mechanism of training or, in cybernetic terms, the mechanism of “operant conditioning”;
- when the dolphin showed a new action at a public demonstration, the trainer whistled and gave the dolphin fish;
- at the next performance, when the dolphin for about two-thirds of the time repeated the movement that gave the result last time, the trainer did not give him fish;
- when a new distinct movement appears, the trainer whistled and gave the dolphin fish;
- as the dolphin’s anxiety grew with each demonstration, the trainer deviated from the rules and began to give the dolphin “unearned fish” from time to time in order to maintain the context of relations and training.

The result of this sequence was that between the fourteenth and fifteenth sessions the dolphin seemed very excited, and when he appeared in the demonstration pool for the fifteenth time, he staged a long show that included eight distinctly distinct units of behavior, four of which were completely new, i.e. . generally above have not been observed in this species.

From this experiment, an extremely important principle follows, common to psychotherapy, and to coaching, and toZen Buddhism , and for other transformative practices, such as programming: “ Firstly , putting a mammal in the wrong position according to its own rules for understanding important relationships with another mammal can cause extreme pain and disorientation. but this pain is of a general kind, which Samuel Butler called virtue, pain - which precedes the solution of the problem ...
Secondly , if you manage to fend off or resist this pathology, experience of this kind, taken as a whole, can contribute to creativity ... a new level of insight into things ... "

UPD Summarizing, I will draw several conclusions and assumptions:
1. Life in general and learning in particular how a process can occur at different logical levels and these levels must be distinguished between each other so as not to confuse the bulldog with the rhinoceros and not fall into the trap of “double ligaments” - both in the outside world and in one’s own thinking .
2. The mixing of logical types is a very common thing both in thinking and in life - and it can be not only negative and paralyzing, but also contribute to creativity and exit (consciousness and practice) to a new level.
3. Psychotherapy and coaching are cybernetically sound and extremely useful practices to improve the quality of life in general and thinking in particular.
4. Structuring contexts is a way to organize a person’s perception in one way or another that is constantly happening in human life and interaction. A vigilant attitude towards this can serve both to improve the quality of life, and the emergence of fundamentally new ways of teaching and transmitting information - including in IT projects.

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