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  1.  2
    The Political Theology of Entropy: A Katechon for the Cybernetic Age.David Bates - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):109-127.
    The digital revolution invites a reconsideration of the very essence of politics. How can we think about decision, control, and will at a time when technologies of automation are transforming every dimension of human life, from military combat to mental attention, from financial systems to the intimate lives of individuals? This article looks back to a moment in the 20th century when the concept of the political as an independent logic was developed, in a time when the boundaries and operations (...)
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  2. ‘Ghastly Marionettes’ and the Political Metaphysics of Cognitive Liberalism: Anti-Behaviourism, Language, and the Origins of Totalitarianism.Danielle Judith Zola Carr - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):147-174.
    While behaviourist psychology had proven its worth to the US military during the Second World War, the 1950s saw behaviourism increasingly associated with a Cold War discourse of ‘totalitarianism’. This article considers the argument made in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism on totalitarianism as a form of behaviourist control. By connecting Arendt’s Cold War anti-behaviourism both to its discursive antecedents in a Progressive-era critique of industrial labour, and to contemporaneous attacks on behaviourism, this paper aims to answer two interlocking (...)
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  3. Textocracy, or, the Cybernetic Logic of French Theory.Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):52-79.
    This article situates the emergence of cybernetic concepts in postwar French thought within a longer history of struggles surrounding the technocratic reform of French universities, including Marcel Mauss’s failed efforts to establish a large-scale centre for social-scientific research with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the intellectual and administrative endeavours of Claude Lévi-Strauss during the 1940s and 1950s, and the rise of communications research in connection with the Centre d’Études des Communications de Masse. Although semioticians and poststructuralists used cybernetic discourse critically (...)
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  4.  3
    Cybernetics and the Human Sciences.Stefanos Geroulanos & Leif Weatherby - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):3-11.
    Cybernetics saturates the humanities. Norbert Wiener’s movement gave vocabulary and hardware to developments all across the early digital era, and still does so today to those who seek to interpret it. Even while the Macy Conferences were still taking place in the early 1950s, talk of feedback and information and pattern had spread to popular culture – and to Europe. The new science created a shared language and culture for surpassing political and intellectual ideas that could be relegated to a (...)
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  5.  1
    Automatic Leviathan: Cybernetics and Politics in Carl Schmitt’s Postwar Writings.Nicolas Guilhot - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):128-146.
    This article questions the current vogue of Carl Schmitt among political theorists who read him as an antidote to the depoliticizing force of economics and technology in the age of neoliberalism and its algorithmic rationalities. It takes Schmitt’s sparse reflections about cybernetics and game theory as paradigmatic of the theoretical and political problems raised by any theory positing the autonomy of the political. It suggests that this ultimately misunderstands the role of cybernetic representations of political decision-making in shoring up in (...)
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  6. How Disunity Matters to the History of Cybernetics in the Human Sciences in the United States, 1940–80.Ronald Kline - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):12-35.
    Rather than assume a unitary cybernetics, I ask how its disunity mattered to the history of the human sciences in the United States from about 1940 to 1980. I compare the work of four prominent social scientists – Herbert Simon, George Miller, Karl Deutsch, and Talcott Parsons – who created cybernetic models in psychology, economics, political science, and sociology with the work of anthropologist Gregory Bateson, and relate their interpretations of cybernetics to those of such well-known cyberneticians as Norbert Wiener, (...)
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  7. What is the ‘Cybernetic’ in the ‘History of Cybernetics’? A French Case, 1968 to the Present.Jacob Krell - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):188-211.
    This article examines the history of cybernetics in France, and the history of French cybernetics in the context of the emergent field of the history of cybernetics. Drawing upon an unfamiliar group of intellectuals and sources, I discuss the way in which French cybernetics was not primarily the hyper-philosophical strain we have come to associate with names such as Derrida and Lévi-Strauss, but an approach to thinking through political and social problems that some on the left would even deign to (...)
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  8.  1
    Cybernetic Times: Norbert Wiener, John Stroud, and the ‘Brain Clock’ Hypothesis.Henning Schmidgen - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):80-108.
    In 1955, Norbert Wiener suggested a sociological model according to which all forms of culture ultimately depended on the temporal coordination of human activities, in particular their synchronization. The basis for Wiener’s model was provided by his insights into the temporal structures of cerebral processes. This article reconstructs the historical context of Wiener’s ‘brain clock’ hypothesis, largely via his dialogues with John W. Stroud and other scholars working at the intersection of neurophysiology, experimental psychology, and electrical engineering. Since the 19th (...)
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  9. Design as Aesthetic Education: On the Politics and Aesthetics of Learning Environments.Christina Vagt - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):175-187.
    The article, speaking from the double perspective of media history and political aesthetics, discusses the impact of behaviourism and early computer technology on the design of learning environments in the United States after the Second World War. By revisiting B. F. Skinner’s approaches to behavioural techniques and cultural engineering, and by showing how these principles were applied first at US design departments, and later to prison education, it argues that cybernetic and behavioural techniques merged in the common field of design (...)
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  10.  1
    Cybernetics for the Command Economy: Foregrounding Entropy in Late Soviet Planning.Diana Kurkovsky West - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):36-51.
    The Soviet Union had a long and complex relationship with cybernetics, especially in the domain of planning. This article looks at Soviet postwar efforts to draw up plans for the rapidly developing, industrializing, and urbanizing Siberia, where cybernetic models were used to develop a vision of cybernetic socialism. Removed from Moscow bureaucracy and politics, the various planning institutes of the Siberian Academy of Sciences became a key frontier for exploring the potential of cybernetic thinking to offer a necessary corrective to (...)
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