Constructivist Foundations 5 (2):75--85 (2010)

Context: The enactive paradigm in the cognitive sciences is establishing itself as a strong and comprehensive alternative to the computationalist mainstream. However, its own particular historical roots have so far been largely ignored in the historical analyses of the cognitive sciences. Problem: In order to properly assess the enactive paradigm’s theoretical foundations in terms of their validity, novelty and potential future directions of development, it is essential for us to know more about the history of ideas that has led to the current state of affairs. Method: The meaning of the disappearance of the field of cybernetics and the rise of second-order cybernetics is analyzed by taking a closer look at the work of representative figures for each of the phases: Rosenblueth, Wiener and Bigelow for the early wave of cybernetics, Ashby for its culmination, and von Foerster for the development of the second-order approach. Results: It is argued that the disintegration of cybernetics eventually resulted in two distinct scientific traditions, one going from symbolic AI to modern cognitive science on the one hand, and the other leading from second-order cybernetics to the current enactive paradigm. Implications: We can now understand that the extent to which the cognitive sciences have neglected their cybernetic parent is precisely the extent to which cybernetics had already carried the tendencies that would later find fuller expression in second-order cybernetics.
Keywords W. Ross Ashby  Heinz von Foerster  constructivism  enactive cognitive science
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,940
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap.Joseph Levine - 1983 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October):354-61.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Cybernetics and Theories of Mind.Glenn Negley - 1951 - Journal of Philosophy 48 (September):574-82.
Cybernetics.Norbert Wiener - 1961 - New York: M.I.T. Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
28 ( #377,979 of 2,426,895 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #347,395 of 2,426,895 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes