Dialog:Control

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Aspiration

Here we understand control as a reflexive verb, indicating what I do to control myself or an extension of myself, as in driving I control my car. Control involves the effort by a living person to use positive and negative feedback to modulate reciprocal interactions of significance for her self-maintenance. The possibility of control arises as one postulates a telos, relative to which one judges negative and positive feedback, continually adjusting what is taking place. Control takes place, we exercise it as it happens, adjusting, responding, too little there, too much here, nothing fix or unchanging until the action has taken place, slipping beyond control into the fixity of the past.. An agent naturally seeks to exercise control, for that effort differentiates agency from mere drift or passive response. Its success or failure is contingent on the capacities of the agent and the particulars of the circumstances impinging on the effort. Whatever the pace, attentive study informs and limits its possibility.


V 1 — You know, R, I've been eyeing control up there in the heading for a long time, feeling wary every time I see it, and it's hard not to see it! So what's it doing there?
R 2 — I've been wondering when worries like your's would come up. People habitually use the passive voice, especially in thinking about themselves, They become the object on which the verb acts, pawns controlled by all the unseen hands of politics, commerce, and social pressure. Look how that miserable virus snuck out and suddenly forced everyone round the world to stop their lives and attend to its dictates.
V 3 — Well, doesn't that show inescapably how much we are in the control of untoward circumstance? Whenever what's expected of us is clear, good or back, we seem to have to go along to get along.
R 4 — Certainly you can look at it that way. All kinds of forces are out of our control. Powerful interests mobilize techniques of social control to induce us to behave the way they want—to do as they please, to buy this, and to think that. It takes a good deal of self-control to minimize the power of those techniques in shaping our lives. Too much worry about the power of Big Brother weakens our attention to our own agency, our powers of control. Even with a pandemic, our wisdom and efficacy turns on our ability to distinguish rightly what falls within our control and what falls outside of it.
V 5 — I sense that you have something pretty fundamental in mind with the phenomenon of control, but you need to explain it and I will try to follow your thought.