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Topic: Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #1
Posted by: Keith Fail
Date/Time: 25/11/2002 09:27:44


You ask:  >>Can anybody here explain the difference of a meta position and use of the second position (modeling)in triple desciption?<<

Welcome Zig to the wild world of NLP/NS.  I hope you find the confusion a motivation to keep on learning.  There is much here of value but the wizards are throwing terms around that may make you work for your new skills. I think it was Robert Anton Wilson who said something like, "The border between the real and the unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place that rival shamans fought each other to a standstill."  The discussion between Hall and Grinder (and perhaps Bostic St.Clair) seems to have some of this spirit somehow. 

In any case, I will propose one possible answer to your question, though it is certainly only one opinion.  

First, let me note what may be causing a bit of our confusion:  Grinder and Bostic St Clair, in Whispering In the Wind are attempting to use language in a way that will improve the quality of definition.  By this I mean that they are attempting to tie definitions as closely as possible to sensory based descriptions.  Hall is working at a much more abstract level of experience most of the time.  Thus Hall’s use of words is intentionally further removed from direct description. 

Neither is better in a universal sense.  Each level of abstraction can be beneficial in a “proper” context.  The question left for all of our exploration then is, “in which context does it make sense to use the detailed thinking pattern and in which is it more useful to use the more abstract?”

Now to your question:  The second position in traditional NLP parlance means building an imaginary representation of what it is like to see an experience through the eyes, assumptions, and way of being of another person participating in the experience.  So if you and I are communicating and I step into 2nd position, I set aside my usual beliefs and ideas and imagine how it must be for you.  I do this by taking on your ideas, beliefs, ways of using your body, thought patterns, and emotions to the best of my ability.  Of course I am just pretending to be you and see out of your perspective, but often humans can achieve a pretty good approximation of what and how another human is thinking (there is evidence to support the idea that this is a natural ability that all baby’s have and use to learn language and other skills by mimicking their care takers – thus we all have this ability even if as adults we sometimes forget to put it into action).  Grinder and Bostic St Clair seem to be using this definition of second position. 

From their definition (JG & CB) this is not a meta representation but rather a para-representation.  That is, “2nd position” is a second description of an experience from a second perceptual frame, but it does not include the “1st position data” (all of this will become clear in the exercises taught in any quality NLP practitioner course).  In fact, it attempts to exclude the 1st person data in order to get as clean a representation of the other person’s perspective as possible. 

Contrast that with the 3rd position from the Triple Description pattern.  In third position, the communicator steps away from both the first and second perspectives and looks back from a removed 3rd position at the content and processes of both the first and second positions.  Because this position, by its definition, includes the first two sets of information (as well as the processes of both positions) it is in a hierarchical relationship of inclusion to those perspectives.  Therefore, we can say that it is at a more inclusive logical level; which is what JG & CB call a “meta” position. 

(As an aside, meta is a Greek root that has come to mean “above” or “encompassing” although I believe it originally meant simply “before” as metaphysics meant before physics.  In Hall’s work, it paradoxically now seems to mean the opposite of “before;” that is,  “after.”  See below.)

Michael Hall, uses “meta” in a more general but a related manner.  When he talks about a meta-state, he is suggesting that the thought that comes after an event, which is about that event, has the power to contextualize that event.  Since our meaning exists only in the wave patterns of thought in our brain, each new thought establishes a certain new context of relationship to the thought which came before (with the possible exception of nonsequitar thoughts)  Thus each new thought or emotion about a previous thought has a possibility (necessarily?  I doubt it) of changing the meaning/perception of the event in question.  In that sense it is meta to the event since it is “about” the event.  The technical meaning of the word “about” is what JG & CB have asked Hall to make more explicit. 

Therefore, from my reading of Grinder and Bostic St Clair’s work, I would say that they see the 3rd position as “meta” to the 1st and 2nd positions in the triple description procedure.  But Hall would likely say that what we call 2nd position is meta to first position in the sense that, because it is only an imagined experience (we can’t really do Vulcan Mind Melds), it is “about” the primary (1st position) experience.  It follows also, from Hall’s meta-states concept that the subsequent stepping into the perspective of 3rd position is then “meta” or “about” the prior representation of 2nd position.  And from my reading of Hall, I would say that this is a matter of sequence rather than a matter of inclusion. 

Hall’s meta states seem to imply that all(?) post FA experience is “meta” that is “about” what came before in the stream of experience. 

It seems to me that in order to discuss these different perspectives we need to first engage Grinder and Bostic St Clair in a clarification of their meaning of FA and f(2).  In their text they elaborate the neurological transforms between sensory input and First Access, and they make it clear that the transforms from FA to language (and other derivative representation systems like math, logic, etc.) are to be labeled  f(2).  But they do not make clear (to me at least) a distinction between FA coming in from initial sensory experience and FA coming from memories and imagination.  They equivocate in their use of FA, sometimes one and sometimes the other definition.  Perhaps they do not see a distinction here.  But I do.

It seems to me that there is a flow of transforms from experience that is more complex than CB & JG are proposing and runs something like:

External happening -->Sensory perception --> f(1) --> subconscious categorization --> FA(1) -->  f(3) --> categorization into a context --> f(2)

· f(1) are the neurological transforms as the sensed data travels to the point where it is first re-presented.
· FA(1) are the sensory based VAKOG representations.
· f(3) consists of the trans-derivational search for related patterns often below the level of consciousness
· f(2) are the transforms mapping the contextualized FA(1) repesentation into words or other symbols such as logic, math, etc.  f(2) can be internal or external words; thus it may serve at sometime to consider f(2,1) and/or f(2,2)

In this case the external world (whatever that may be) is represented and categorized and finally transformed in to verbal description.  There is another possibility:  that the words are not generated.  In which case, the chain might be something like: 

External happening -->Sensory perception --> f(1) --> subconscious categorization --> FA(1) -->  f(3) --> categorization into a context --> FA(2) --> f(3) -->categorization into a context --> FA(2) --> f(3) -->categorization into a context --> FA(2) … [on ad infinitum]


· FA(2) – memory based or imagination based VAKOG representations.  Perhaps these should be broken up into FA(2,1) and FA(2,2).  But in any case, they represent neurological waveforms that are distinguished from new sensory input by the fact that we are remembering or constructing representations rather than experiencing them for the first time.  (How we make this distinction between current external experience and internal experience is an interesting side discussion, but however we do it, the fact remains that his is a distinction core to and requisite among sane people’s thought patterns.)

Once we have this more extensive framework for considering the chain of abstraction from external world to mental phenomena, it becomes apparent that the three NLP perceptual positions are examples of FA(2) while Hall’s meta-states are examples of the application of f(2) which accomplishes a change in the subsequent FA(2). 

Zig, I know that for a person new to NLP this is a lot of jargon and perhaps even mental masturbation.  If you enjoy this, as I do, then welcome aboard.  But please do not let this super intellectual debate dissuade you from taking some NLP courses.  I assure you that if you find a good trainer, the practical value of learning to behaviorally apply the patterns generally taught as NLP will be well worth your participation whether you subsequently take it to this level or not. 

I hope this has helped. 


Keith W. Fail
Austin, Texas

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
An Answer to John Grinder #104/08/2002 13:59:20Zaphod
     Copy of Mr. Hall's response article included here04/08/2002 19:03:39nj
     ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #123/11/2002 21:07:02Zigfield Roy
          Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #125/11/2002 09:27:44Keith Fail
               Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #125/11/2002 22:26:13Zigfield Roy
                    Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #126/11/2002 09:16:46Keith Fail
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 17:29:10John Grinder
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 17:41:35John Grinder
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 18:32:02John Schertzer
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #112/12/2002 19:15:55Zig

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