AST Revisited: On the Many Facets of Impressions and Theories
Donal E. Carlston Cheri W. Sparks Purdue University
The diverse nature of these perceptive commentaries (see chaps. 2-9) reminds us of the poem about three blind men who encounter an elephant. As the reader may recall, one took hold of the trunk, one the tusk, and one the tail, and each described the same creature in starkly different terms. The poem is apropos whether one considers the elephant to represent intangible cognitive representations, or the more opaque facets of Associated System Theory (AST), because in either case it is hard to see these things clearly. Consequently, there are different ways to construe these "elephants," and at times different people may envision the same underlying creature in quite different ways.
We do not mean to imply that the commentators for this volume are blind or that their descriptions are in error. After all, in the poem, the various descriptions of the unseen elephant were essentially accurate, as far as they went. Similarly, the perceptions detailed in the various commentaries are, for the most part, quite insightful. Yet, in one way or another, we have all have managed to get a hold of something different. One challenge for this chapter is to show how the ideas touched on by commentators in the previous chapters fit together with the ideas that AST is groping to understand and explain. Perhaps by assembling and comparing these myriad insights, we can begin to piece together the nature of the illusive things that we are trying to describe.
The authors of most past target chapters have elected to organize their replies thematically, citing the commentaries at the various points where they became relevant. This has allowed them to organize their comments logically, and to proceed without tangent or redundancy through the points