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Principles of Comparative Psychology
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Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. Foundation starting in and ending in The explicit aim of the conferences was to promote meaningful communication across scientific disciplines,  and restore unity to science. Disciplinary isolation within medicine was viewed as particularly problematic by the Macy Foundation, and given that their mandate was to aid medical research, they decided to do something about it. The Josiah Macy, Jr.
Foundation developed two innovations specifically designed to encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary exchanges; one was oral: the Macy conferences, and one was written: the Macy transactions published transcriptions of the conferences. Macy conferences were essentially conversations held in a conference setting, with participants presenting research while it was still in process rather than after it had been completed. These were more formal than conversations papers were prepared ahead of time and circulated but less formal than conferences.
Macy transactions were transcriptions widely circulated to those who could not attend. These were far more informal than typical proceedings, which publish revised versions of conference papers, and served to invite additional scholars into the exchange.
However, Fremont-Smith explicitly stated that actual discussion should always take priority. Participants were leading scientists from a wide range of fields. Casual recollections of several participants as well as published comments in the Transactions volumes stress the communicative difficulties in the beginning of each set of conferences, giving way to the gradual establishment of a common language powerful enough to communicate the intricacies of the various fields of expertise present.
Participants were deliberately chosen for their willingness to engage in interdisciplinary conversations, or for having formal training in multiple disciplines, and many brought relevant past experiences gained either from earlier Macy conferences or other venues. The Cybernetics conferences were held between and , organized by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation , motivated by Lawrence K.
Frank and Frank Fremont-Smith of the Foundation. The principal purpose of these series of conferences was to set the foundations for a general science of the workings of the human mind. One of the topics spanning a majority of the conferences was reflexivity. Claude Shannon , one of the attendees, had previously worked on information theory and laid the one of the initial frameworks for the Cybernetic Conferences by postulating information as a probabilistic element which reduced the uncertainty from a set of choices i. The addition of meaning into the concept of information necessarily brought the role of the observer into the Macy Conferences.
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MacKay argued that by receiving and interpreting a message, the observer and the information they perceived ceased to exist independently of one another. The individual reading and processing the information does so relative to their preexisting internal state, consisting of what they already know and have experienced, and only then acts. MacKay further muddled the role of information and its meaning by introducing the idea of reflexivity and feedback loops into his thought experiment. By claiming that the influence of the original message on the initial observer could be perceived by a separate individual, MacKay turned the second individual into an additional observer which could be elicited to react just how the initial observer did, a reaction that could then further be observed by a nested doll of observers ad infinitum.
Reflexive feedback loops continued to come up during the Macy Conferences and became a prominent issue during its later discussions as well, most notably in the discussions regarding behavioral patterns of the human mind.
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Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts , also attendees, had previously worked on designing the first mathematical schema of a neuron based on the idea that each neuron had a threshold level that was to be reached, via excitation signals from incoming neurons, before firing its own signal onto others. Similarly to how Shannon had previously proven with his work in relay and switch circuits , McCulloch and Pitts proved that neural networks were capable of carrying out any boolean algebra calculations.
At the Macy Conferences, McCulloch proposed that the firing of a neuron can be associated with an event or interaction taking place in the external world which provides sensory stimulus that is then picked up by the nervous system and processed by the neurons. Shannon had developed a maze-solving device which attendees of the Macy Conferences likened to a rat. The Macy Conferences failed to reconcile the subjectivity of information its meaning and that of the human mind but succeeding in showing how concepts such as that of the observer, reflexivity , black box systems , and neural networks would have to be approached in conjunction and eventually overcome in order to form a complete working theory of the mind.
Bigelow, Herbert G. Birch, John R. Bowman, Henry W. Ericsson, Fitch, Lawrence K. Licklider , Howard S. Liddell , Donald B. Lindsley , W. Duncan Luce , Donald M.
MacKay , Donald G. Marquis , Warren S. Savage , T. Wiesner , J.
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This is a sampling of the topics discussed each year. Some of the researchers present at the cybernetics conferences later went on to do extensive government-funded research on the psychological effects of LSD, and its potential as a tool for interrogation and psychological manipulation in such projects as the CIA 's MKULTRA program. The Group Processes Conferences were held between and They are of particular interest due to the element of reflexivity: participants were interested in their own functioning as a group, and made numerous comments about their understanding of how Macy conferences were designed to work.
Beach , Leo Berman, Ray L. Birdwhistell , Robert L. Blake, Helen Blauvelt, Jerome S.
References on classification by integrative levels
Bruner , George W. Chapple, Stanley Cobb , Nicholas E. Collias, Jocelyn Crane, Erik H. Erikson , L. Hasler , Eckhard H. Hess, Sol Kramer, Daniel S.
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