The purpose of this paper and its sister paper (Farrell and Hooker,b) is to present, evaluate and elaborate a proposed new model for the process of scientfic development: self-directed anticipative learning (SDAL). The vehicle for its evaluation is a new analysis of a well-known historical episode: the development of ape-language research. In this first paper we outline five prominent features of SDAL that will need to be realized in applying SDAL to science: 1) interactive exploration of possibility space; 2) self-directedness; 3)localization of success and error; 4) Synergistic increase in learning capacity; and 5) continuity of SDAL process across scientfic change. In this paper we examine the first three features of SDAL in relation to the early history of ape-language research. We show that this history is readily explicated as a self-directed, ever-finer, delineation of possibility space that enables the localization of both success and error. Paper II examines the last two features against this history.
Perspectives on Science Vol. 15, Issue 1, p. 86-123