Research Plans

The most speculative part of my paper is the discussion of plans for the testing and amplification of such a body of hypotheses. I shall be guided by the following heuristic assumptions:

(1) The epistemology in whose terms the hypotheses are constructed is itself not subject to testing. Derived from Whitehead and Russell,151 it serves to guide our work. Should the work prove rewarding, the success will be only a weak verification of the epistemology.

(2) We do not even know what a primitive digital system for the discussion of patterns of relationship might look like, but we can guess that it would not look like a "thing" language. (It might, more probably, resemble music.) I shall therefore not expect the techniques for cracking human linguistic codes to be immediately applicable to the vocalization of dolphins.

(3) The first requirement, then, is to identify and to classify the varieties and the components of relationship existing among the animals through detailed ethological study of their actions, interactions, and social organization. The elements of which these patterns are built are doubtless still present in the kinesics and actions of the species. We there-fore begin with a listing of the kinesic signals of individual dolphins, and then try to relate them to the contexts in which they are used.

(4) No doubt, just as the pack leader's behavior tells us that "dominance" among wolves is metaphorically related to weaning, so also the dolphins will tell us their kinesic metaphors for "dominance," "dependency," and other ^ functions. Gradually this system of signals will fit together piece by piece to form a picture of the varieties of relationship existing even among animals arbitrarily confined together in a tank.

(5) As we begin to understand the metaphor system of the dolphin, it will become possible to recognize and classify the contexts of his vocalization. At this point the statistical techniques for cracking codes may conceivably become useful.

The assumptions regarding the hierarchic structure of the learning process — upon which this whole paper is based —provide the basis for various kinds of experimentation. The contexts of proto-learning may be variously constructed with a view to observing in what types of contexts certain types of learning most readily occur. We shall pay special attention to those contexts that involve either relationships between two or more animals and one person, or relationships between two or more people and one animal. Such contexts are miniature models of social organization within which the animal may be expected to show characteristic behaviors and to make characteristic attempts to modify the context (i.e., to manipulate the humans).

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