Considers that in ecosystem, landscape and global ecology, an energetics reading of ecological systems is an expression of a cybernetic, systemic and holistic approach. In ecosystem ecology, the Odumian paradigm emphasizes the concept of emergence, but it has not been accompanied by the creation of a method that fully respects the complexity of the objects studied. In landscape ecology, although the emergentist, multi-level, triadic methodology of J.K. Feibleman and D.T. Campbell has gained acceptance, the importance of emergent properties is still (...) undervalued. In global ecology, the Gaia hypothesis is an expression of an organicist metaphor, while the emergentist terminology used is incongruent with the underlying physicalist cybernetics. More generally, an analytico-additional methodology and the reduction of the properties of ecosystems to the laws of physical chemistry render purely formal any assertion about the emergentist and holistic nature of the ecological systems studied. (shrink)
It is asked to what extent answers to such questions as ?Can machines think??, ?Could robots have feelings?? might be expected to yield insight into traditional mind?body questions. It has sometimes been assumed that answering the first set of questions would be the same as answering the second. Against this approach other philosophers have argued that answering the first set of questions would not help us to answer the second. It is argued that both of these assessments are mistaken. It (...) is then claimed, although not argued in detail, that the following three approaches to the first set of questions are mistaken: (1) machines (and robots) obviously cannot think, feel, create, etc., since they do only what they are programmed to do; (2) on the basis of ah analysis of the meaning of the words ?machine? ('robot?, ?think?, ?feel?, etc.) we can see that in principle it would be impossible for machines (or robots) to think, feel, create, etc.; (3) machines (and robots) obviously can (or could) think, feel, etc., since they do certain things which, if we were to do them, would require thought, feeling, etc. It is argued that, once it is seen why approach (2) is mistaken, it becomes desirable to decline ?in principle? approaches to the first set of questions and to favor ?piecemeal investigations? where attention is centered upon what is actually taking place in machine technology, the development of new programming techniques, etc. Some suggestions are made concerning the relevance of current computer simulation studies to traditional mind?body questions. A new set of questions is proposed as a substitute for the first set of questions. It is hoped that attempts to answer these may provide us with new and detailed portraits of the mind?body relationship. (shrink)
The history of British cybernetics offers us a different form of science and engineering, one that does not seek to dominate nature through knowledge. I want to say that one can distinguish two different paradigms in the history of science and technology: the one that Heidegger despised, which we could call the Modern paradigm, and another, cybernetic, nonModern, paradigm that he might have approved of. This essay focusses on work in the 1950s and early 1960s by two of Britain’s (...) leading cyberneticians, Stafford Beer and Gordon Pask, in the field of what one can call biological computing. My object is to get as clear as I can on what Beer and Pask were up to. At the end, I will discuss Beer’s hylozoist ontology of matter, mind and spirit. This material is not easy to get the hang of—but that is what one should expect from an unfamiliar paradigm. (shrink)
Is cybernetics good, bad, or indifferent? SherryTurkle enlists deconstructive theory to celebrate thecomputer age as the embodiment of difference. Nolonger just a theory, one can now live a virtual life. Within a differential but ontologically detachedfield of signifiers, one can construct and reconstructegos and environments from the bottom up andendlessly. Lucas Introna, in contrast, enlists theethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to condemn thesame computer age for increasing the distance betweenflesh and blood people. Mediating the face-to-facerelation between real people, allowing (...) and encouragingcommunication at a distance, information technologywould alienate individuals from the social immediacyproductive of moral obligations and responsibilities. In this paper I argue against both of thesepositions, and for similar reasons. Turkle''scelebration and Introna''s condemnation of informationtechnology both depend, so I will argue, on the samemistaken meta-interpretation of it. Like Introna,however, but to achieve a different end, I will enlistLevinas''s ethical philosophy to make this case. (shrink)
It remains to summarize the contributions which each of the three disciplines discussed here is making toward the development of a science of man. "Significs" makes a study of the effects on human behavior of the linguistic aspects of the evaluative process, the most distinctly human aspect of the behavior of the human organism. "Mathematical Biophysics" seeks to describe the events associated with evaluative processes in physico-mathematical terms. "Cybernetics" is discovering important invariants common to these processes and others, particularly (...) those observed in man-made machines and in situations which lend themselves to description in thermo-dynamic or statistical (order -- chaos) terms. (shrink)
The field of information technology is broadened up to the domain of ‘learning’ systems and cybernetics. In covering this extension of the field due recourse is made to the epistemological basis of theory construction. When so comprehended, information technology becomes a philosophical inquiry on a variety of social, scientific and technological issues. A new idea that we refer to as neuro-cybernetics is born. The term neuro-cybernetics is used to delineate the epistemological field of system and cybernetic study. (...) The above-mentioned phenomenological or the epistemic model of a cybernetic and system type is applied to flood control problem in Bangladesh. This example presents an application of the cybernetic model to a physico-human problem. This is the nature of socio-scientific system. In it, organically unifying relations occur between the environment and the human world, with the objective of controlling the perennial problem of floods by using interactive factors. (shrink)
This article explores the usefulness of interdisciplinarity as method of enquiry by proposing an investigation of the concept of information in the light of semiotics. This is because, as Kull, Deacon, Emmeche, Hoffmeyer and Stjernfelt state, information is an implicitly semiotic term (Biological Theory 4(2):167–173, 2009: 169), but the logical relation between semiosis and information has not been sufficiently clarified yet. Across the history of cybernetics, the concept of information undergoes an uneven development; that is, information is an ‘objective’ (...) entity in first order cybernetics, and becomes a ‘subjective’ entity in second order cybernetics. This contradiction relegates the status of information to that of a ‘true’ or ‘false’ formal logic problem. The present study proposes that a solution to this contradiction can be found in Deely’s reconfiguration of Peirce’s ‘object’ (as found in his triadic model of semiosis) into ‘thing’ and ‘object’ (Deely 1981). This ontology allows one to argue that information is neither ‘true’ nor ‘false’, and to suggest that, when considered in light of its workability, information can be both true and false, and as such it constitutes an organism’s purely objective reality (Deely 2009b). It is stated that in the process of building such a reality, information is ‘motivated’ by environmental, physiological, emotional (including past feelings and expectations) constraints which are, in turn, framed by observership. Information is therefore found in the irreducible cybersemiotic process that links at once all these conditions and that is simultaneously constrained by them. The integration of cybernetics’ and semiotics’ understanding of information shows that history is the analytical principle that grants scientific rigour to interdisciplinary investigations. As such, in any attempt to clarify its epistemological stance (e.g. the semiotic aspect of information), it is argued that biosemiotics does not need only to acknowledge semiotics (as it does), but also cybernetics in its interdisciplinary heritage. (shrink)
Cybernetics as a usable past Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9497-x Authors Ronald R. Kline, Science and Technology Studies Department, 334 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Organizational cybernetics offers theoretical and methodological support for self-organizing communities seeking to contribute to the conscious evolution of society. Previous experiences with the Viable Systems Model (VSM) and Team Syntegrity (TS) illustrate ways of enabling social networks to create a shared language, reach democratic agreements, and develop knowledge networks.
The fateful entanglements of psychoanalysis, cybernetics and digital media Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9570-0 Authors Leon Antonio Rocha, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RH UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Context: In this empirical and conceptual paper on the historical, philosophical, and epistemological backgrounds of second-order cybernetics, the emergence of a significant pedagogical component to Heinz von Foerster’s work during the last years of the Biological Computer Laboratory is placed against the backdrop of social and intellectual movements on the American landscape. Problem: Previous discussion in this regard has focused largely on the student radicalism of the later 1960s. A wider-angled view of the American intellectual counterculture is needed. However, (...) this historical nexus is complicated and more often dismissed than brought into clear focus. Method: This essay assembles a historical sequence of archival materials for critical analysis, linked to a conceptual argument eliciting from those materials the second-order cybernetic concepts of observation, recursion, and paradox. Results: In this period, von Foerster found the “positive of the negative” in the social and intellectual unrest of that moment and cultivated those insights for the broader constitution of a new cognitive orientation. Implications: As a successful student of his own continuing course on heuristics, von Foerster left the academic mainstream to ally his constructivist epistemology with the systems counterculture. (shrink)
From the perspective of biological cybernetics, “real world” robots have no fundamental advantage over computer simulations when used as models for biological behavior. They can even weaken biological relevance. From an engineering point of view, however, robots can benefit from solutions found in biological systems. We emphasize the importance of this distinction and give examples for artificial systems based on insect biology.
Cybernetics,” which he presented as en suite with six articles by several others on the same subject in the same journal during the preceding 18 months. This group of short papers, starting with one by Karl Popper, may be regarded as part of the first wave of response to Alan Turing’s famous paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” in 1950. Polanyi read Turing’s paper in draft and discussed it directly with Turing. The polemic as to whether machines can think and (...) the mind’s likeness and unlikeness to a machine, has of course never ceased since then and, as Artificial Intelligence develops, is not likely to do so for many long decades. In addition to the traditional battle lines in philosophy over the mind and the brain there are other important lines of thought that disfavor logic as the final arbiter of the great philosophical questions—for example, feminist ontology and cultural theory. Polanyi started from within logic, but his line of thought was not built out of the old philosophical topics nor did he address the matter along either the materialist or the phenomenological developments of the twentieth century. He was concerned with the cybernetic view of the human mind and also with the way the followers of Wittgenstein regarded language and philosophy. (shrink)
The history of the relationship between Christian theology and the natural sciences has been conditioned by the initial decision of the masters of the "first scientific revolution" to disregard any necessary explanatory premiss to account for the constituting organization and the framing of naturally occurring entities. Not paying any attention to hierarchical control, they ended-up disseminating a vision and understanding in which it was no longer possible for a theology of nature to send questions in the direction of the experimental (...) sciences, as was done in the past between theology and many philosophically-based thought-systems. Presenting the history of some hinge-periods in the development of the Western-world sciences, this book first sets out to consider the conceptual revolution which has, in the 20th Century, related consciousness, physical laws and levels of organization, in order to show that a new chance existed then for theology. This discourse was invited to revise its language to open it up to the quest for meaning which we find on the periphery of the project of the experimental sciences. The Century-old reflection on the foundations of probability had prepared the ground for the introduction of the concept of information, at first linked to an effort aimed at maximizing the efficiency of electromagnetic communications. Taking the full measure of the questions that information theory poses to the biological sciences, this work attempts to identify the areas of convergence setting the stage for general systems theory, while it also tries to identify the insufficiencies of this recent vision and to highlight the questions left unanswered. Re-reading some of the traditional proofs of God's existence from the order of the world, relying on some pioneering insights of Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Norbert Wiener, the author brings those proofs and insights in contact with the fascinating initial project of cybernetics and the elements of a "mythical" nature which, from its inception, it could never entirely eliminate. This book ends with the confrontation between the conceptually most extended regulation factors in the history of Western thought. It articulates the poetic utopia concerned with an immediate grasp of the world in its "deictic" character with the concurrent one aimed at the domination over matter and energy expressed by technology's driving rational utopia. (shrink)
This is the outline: Introduction : le praticien d’une science-philosophie; Épiphénoménisme retourné et subjectivité délocalisée; Dieu est-il jamais inféré par la science ?; La question du panthéisme; Le pilotage axiologique et la parabole mécaniste; L'unité domaniale comme ce qui reste en dehors de la science.
The problem of knowledge has been centred around the study of the content of our consciousness, seeing the world through internal representation, without any satisfactory account of the operations of nature that would be a pre-condition for our own performances in terms of concept efficiency in organizing action externally. If we want to better understand where and how meaning fits in nature, we have to find the proper way to decipher its organization, and account for the fact that we have (...) found codes and replicators operating at a deep levels of analysis. Informational analysis deals with units of organizational stability but it takes them for granted and leaves open the question of their origin. Patterns are used when we recognize the same configurations at different places and try to explain through their recurrence, yet to make sense of the presence of signals and counter-balancing mechanisms disseminated in nature, a hypothesis is offered to the effect that feedback signals would have a role to play in the coming about of a world that is open to new configurations and submitted to a form of stability that is more attuned to system laws than overarching unrevisable ones. (shrink)
Both von Neumann and Wiener were outsiders to biology. Both were inspired by biology and both proposed models and generalizations that proved inspirational for biologists. Around the same time in the 1940s von Neumann developed the notion of self reproducing automata and Wiener suggested an explication of teleology using the notion of negative feedback. These efforts were similar in spirit. Both von Neumann and Wiener used mathematical ideas to attack foundational issues in biology, and the concepts they articulated had lasting (...) effect. But there were significant differences as well. Von Neumann presented a how-possibly model, which sparked interest by mathematicians and computer scientists, while Wiener collaborated more directly with biologists, and his proposal influenced the philosophy of biology. The two cases illustrate different strategies by which mathematicians, the “professional outsiders” of science, can choose to guide their engagement with biological questions and with the biological community, and illustrate different kinds of generalizations that mathematization can contribute to biology. The different strategies employed by von Neumann and Wiener and the types of models they constructed may have affected the fate of von Neumann’s and Wiener’s ideas – as well as the reputation, in biology, of von Neumann and Wiener themselves. (shrink)
Cybernetics promoted machine-supported investigations of adaptive sensorimotor behaviours observed in biological systems. This methodological approach receives renewed attention in contemporary robotics, cognitive ethology, and the cognitive neurosciences. Its distinctive features concern machine experiments, and their role in testing behavioural models and explanations flowing from them. Cybernetic explanations of behavioural events, regularities, and capacities rely on multiply realizable mechanism schemata, and strike a sensible balance between causal and unifying constraints. The multiple realizability of cybernetic mechanism schemata paves the way to (...) principled comparisons between biological systems and machines. Various methodological issues involved in the transition from mechanism schemata to their machine instantiations are addressed here, by reference to a simple sensorimotor coordination task. These concern the proper treatment of ceteris paribus clauses in experimental settings, the significance of running experiments with correct but incomplete machine instantiations of mechanism schemata, and the advantage of operating with real machines ??? as opposed to simulated ones ??? immersed in real environments. (shrink)