C- 75. Shaping performance

“Shaping up” is a matter and means of embracing life. Our performances can, ala B.F. Skinner, be shaped by a reinforcement strategy (i.e., back-loaded, as with the two “hands” in C-74) to bring out two consequences: the particular behavior and effect desired. (See his Beyond Freedom and Dignity.) Here too, there will be a poverty of innovation and problem solving. If something can be done once … well then, we can choose to do it again and see to its being doing again. (Efficiency/effectiveness > 1.) Is that enough?

What about a front-loaded approach? Compare the Skinnerian approach with the realizations that music’s composer, conductor and performer, dance’s choreographer, director and performer, or drama’s author, director and actor work together to bring about. (Think staging and rehearsal.) That realization may be a truth about the Nature of Things, perhaps expressed tentatively and rough-edged initially, with imbalances (e.g., of emotion/cognition > 1), but which can be shaped toward a better realization, with imbalances are corrected. However executed, their combined work is significantly front-loaded, shaped by what they are trying to realize. There is development. “Before freedom and dignity,” so to speak: Before the freedom TO of capability and before the appreciation of realized performance.

The front-loaded approach adds significance to what art can bring to our consequentiality along with humanism and science. (See HAS: App. VIII, App. XV.) It also adds substance to the CEM-fabric – and a bit of pepper too – to pragmatism, functionalism and positivism as philosophical perspectives (App. XI). Further, it seems essential to our getting turned around (C-58), getting with the CEM-wave, becoming better prepared for life in the frontier, better prepared to make something in and of the future of history (App. XII). Not least, it offers us an escape from simplistic cybernetic control of deviations from a presumptive intended course (those readings of the Nature of Things which see a given order of things). We are not thereby bereft of course control. We can shape elicited criteria (VIII) to functionally equivalent advantage in dealing with behavioral dysfunction as we strive toward optimal functional capability.

Consider for example, in this last respect, how we might rewrite the Garden of Eden’s apple-eating event. Instead of reading the bite as sinful, remedied only by institutional dispensation and peddled indulgences, we might (like American Indian tribes) read the event in terms of reverence for life (C-73) – life being a condition shared by both parties, as behavioral entities, to the event – and go forward from there. Not profiting from dysfunction but developing needed functional capability. In this way we might rewrite our future history from this rewrite of past history.

Note too that in so far as the conditions at which we are looking for balance of emphasis (XI; App. XVII: DPA) are viewed as values (hence we allot our emphases) then what we might accomplish with a front-loaded approach is to refine and give better expression to those values. A community that places a premium on values in its establishment could profit from a developmental program that continues to refine, to shape those values.

Also, given that a first-order imbalance may well deliver a second-order imbalance (e.g., If B/S > 1, then B => S/S => B >1 [as in the penchant for trying to understand functioning as dictated by structure]) there should be some carry-over from sharpened first-order values to the second-order values – and, in addition, to other imbalances related to, say, a central value. Something better may be fashioned from a clot or clog: an impediment overcome and a composition advanced.

Consider, for example, the back-loaded strategy which views education – and teaching – as but instruction (e.g., “teaching to the test” and rote learning). The imbalances of, say, learning/knowing > 1 and elementary/basic > 1 are the gloss of the clog here. These emphases may make decision making easier for this or that party or situational problem, but all parties are irreparably damaged in operating capability, in respect to their behavioral problem and their problem-solving development. The DPA technology can assist in restoring balance and shaping up (front-loaded) performance.

(c) R.F. Carter