Purpose: Commenting on the transcript of a lecture. Findings: The document reconstructs the development of the original 1973 lecture by Heinz von Foerster into his best-known paper, On Constructing a Reality. Many aspects of that paper can be identified as being shaped through interaction with the audience. Implications: The lecture documented here was a forerunner of a central paper in constructivism.
Summary: The aim of this collection is to provide a two-fold access to von Foerster's legacy and his work at the Biological Computer Laboratory, the institution he founded and directed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1958 to 1976. It represents a precious contribution for the understanding of BCL, a crucial but still not properly understood chapter in the history of cybernetics and, more generally, of cognitive science. It is greatly recommended.
In this collection of essays Broekman gathers together a number of articles which were written by H. Wein between 1956 and 1962. Nearly half of them have been published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and most of the remainder have appeared in professional journals., These eleven essays concentrate on three areas: philosophical anthropology, metalinguistics, and general philosophy of language. In the introduction Broekman informs the reader how the three different topics relate to one another in Wein's philosophy. He offers a (...) post-Hegelian theory of the objective spirit, which takes suggestions especially from American cultural anthropology and the thinking of Nicolai Hartmann. The concept "culture," which for Wein embodies the actualization of the objective spirit, thereby gains central importance. Man, by recognizing himself as the creator and creation of culture, realizes that he can only find out something about his own essence by analyzing his relation to culture, since culture is a human empirical entity which makes it possible for man to meet himself. Thereby an anthropological investigation is the self-encounter and self-discovery within which man experiences his being-man.--H. H. (shrink)
Excerpt: In 1995, the Leo Apostel Centre in Brussels, Belgium, organised an international conference called ``Einstein meets Magritte''. Nobel prize winner Ilya Prigogine held the opening lecture at the conference, and Heinz von Foerster's lecture was scheduled last... Heinz von Foerster was enchanted by the conference theme and -- in the spirit of surrealist Belgian painter René Magritte -- had chosen an appropriate title for his talk: ``Ceci n'est pas Albert Einstein''. ... [H]e was delighted to grant the (...) organisers the following interview, in which he tells us about an even longer journey -- that of his remarkable life and scientific career. (shrink)
The National Library of Finland and the Von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Helsinki keep the collected correspondence of Georg Henrik von Wright, Wittgenstein’s friend and successor at Cambridge and one of the three literary executors of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. Among von Wright’s correspondence partners, Elizabeth Anscombe and Rush Rhees are of special interest to Wittgenstein scholars as the two other trustees of the Wittgenstein papers. Thus, von Wright’s collections held in Finland promise to shed light on the (...) context of decades of editorial work that made Wittgenstein’s later philosophy available to all interested readers. In this text, we present the letters which von Wright received from Anscombe and Rhees during the first nine months after Wittgenstein’s death. This correspondence provides a vivid picture of the literary executors as persons and of their developing relationships. The presented letters are beautiful examples of what the correspondence as a whole has to offer; it depicts – besides facts of editing – the story of three philosophers, whose conversing voices unfold the human aspects of inheriting Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. Their story does not only deal with editing the papers of an eminent philosopher, but with the attempt to do justice to the man they knew, to his philosophy and to his wishes for publication. (shrink)
In several works on modality, G. H. von Wright presents tree structures to explain possible worlds. Worlds that might have developed from an earlier world are possible relative to it. Actually possible worlds are possible relative to the world as it actually was at some point. Many logically consistent worlds are not actually possible. Transitions from node to node in a tree structure are probabilistic. Probabilities are often more useful than similarities between worlds in treating counterfactual conditionals.
The development of G. H. von Wright’s work in ethics is traced from the early 1950s to the publication of The Varieties of Goodness in 1963, with special focus on the influences stemming from Wittgenstein’s later thought. In 1952, von Wright published an essay suggesting a formal analysis of the concept of value. This attempt was soon abandoned. The change of approach took place at the time von Wright started his work on Wittgenstein’s Nachlass and tried to articulate the main (...) lines of Wittgenstein’s Philosophische Untersuchungen in spoken and written form. This preoccupation with Wittgenstein led to a new approach to value judgments in an 1954 article, which shows strong late-Wittgensteinian influences on methodical as well as stylistic levels. Some traces of the 1954 approach are still visible in The Varieties of Goodness, while the stylistic imitations and allusions have mostly been dropped. Furthermore, von Wright’s approach in The Varieties is wider in scope, aiming at a broad overview of the phenomenon von Wright calls the “varieties of goodness”. But new conncections to the later Wittgenstein also seem to emerge: the idea of a "perspicuous presentation" of ethical concepts and the will to make philosophy relevant for "kulturens större sammanhang". (shrink)
Two jarring results concerning the main theses of Georg Henrik von Wright's Explanation and Understanding are reached through an examination and criticism of his project. It is shown, contrary to his settled judgment both in EU and subsequently, that the schema of practical inference is a causal principle, and that it is nomological in character. But one feature of von Wright's overall analysis holds up and continues to show promise: his idea of understanding explanation. This idea combines the EU account (...) of the schema and its instantiation with the notion of an intelligible connection of these instantiating elements with one another. Here the schema is deployed in conjunction with the test of intelligible connection as one of its conditions of application. The schema, so deployed, is revisable on the basis of experiences that do not conform to what we expect them to be when they are regimented in accordance with the model of understanding explanation; thus, even though the schema is not a general law, we have a basis for characterizing it as nomological, nonetheless. (shrink)
Georg Henrik von Wright always mentioned that his academic teachers had been Eino Kaila and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He even spoke of the two as his “father figures”. Georg Henrik was a sunny boy, but his “fathers” appear to be quite enigmatic. An industry of philosophical literature is needed to interpret Wittgenstein. Kaila seems to be at most a minor figure with some contacts to the Vienna Circle. It is not wrong to see von Wright as a follower of Wittgenstein, and (...) von Wright’s life-long work was decisive for the fact that all of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass is now available. In what follows, I will concentrate more on Kaila and his Viennese connections than on Wittgenstein. I make an attempt of trying to see the two “fathers” from a perspective that was or at least could have been von Wright’s contemporary view. Vienna – or, more accurately – the recent past of Vienna was also von Wright’s city of dreams. Kaila is an interesting case as concerns the networking typical of the Vienna Circle, especially as an example of Rudolf Carnap’s rich scientific contacts at that point of his career. It was Kaila who made the start of von Wright’s career possible and determined a number of his philosophical interests and orientations, including the specific way in which von Wright’s work can be said to be linked to the Vienna Circle and logical empiricism. Of course, after World War II “analytic philosophy” was the acceptable designation for that kind of work that von Wright was pursuing in Cambridge, but his story can not be told without attention to the impulses from Vienna. (shrink)
RésuméCette étude retrace l'évolution des recherches de von Wright en logique déontique depuis 1951 jusqu'à la fin des années 70. J'ai préféré, à une suite d'exposés isolés et indépendants à propos de chaque système, m'attacher à la mise en évidence des différences et des similitudes; je montre en quoi chaque étape est originale. Je reléve d'abord les traits saillants du système de 1951 et ceux de la construction de 1963, après avoir analysé les raisons du passage du premier à la (...) seconde. Ensuite, j'expose le profil essentiel de la généralisation métalogique de 1968. Enfin, je décris les tentatives de réduction de la logique déontique à des logiques plus familieres et j'examine à propos de positions très recentes ce qui va dans le sens de la reprise de l'ancien et ce qui marque des ruptures radicales avec tout ce qui précéde.SummaryThis study describes the evolution of von Wright's investigations about deontic logic from 1951 until the late 70. Rather than isolated expositions of a series of independent systems, I prefered to attach myself to differences and similitudes. I strived to show the originality of each conception. First, I call attention to the 1951 system principal features; I analyse the reasons which compelled von Wright to construct the 1963 logico‐philosophical system. Then I describe the essential profile of the 1968 metalogic generalisation. So, I come to the reductionnist tentations, concluding with the examination of very recent positions. In the conceptions of the late 70, we find a lot of things which repeat the past, but also extreme originality on many points. (shrink)
Context: Von Foerster’s concept of eigenbehavior can be recognized against the broader context of enactivism as it has been advocated by Varela, Thompson and Rosch, by Noë and recently by Hutto and Myin, among others. This flourishing constellation of ideas is on its way to becoming the new paradigm of cognitive science. However, in my reading, enactivism, putting stress on the constitutive role of action when it comes to mind and perception, faces a serious philosophical challenge when attempting to (...) account for the way we actually perceive our environments, most importantly for the fact that we perceive things or objects. Von Foester’s eigenbehavior is understood here as a concept supposed to take on this challenge. Problem: In this article I tackle the following issues: Enactivism must be able to account for the apparent stability of the perceived world: this is not a realm of a never-ending flux of stimuli; it is a realm of stable things. Enactivism is committed to the anti-Cartesian endeavor seeking to bridge the gap between the inner and the outer; between the subjective and the objective. Now, these two points constrain each other so that one cannot address simply by regarding the apparent stability of things as a projection that springs out of the internal machinery binding inputs with outputs. This is because the very idea of such an internal machinery opposes, i.e., it employs the Cartesian dichotomy. So, enactivism is in need of an account of that would not oppose its anti-Cartesian commitment. Method: I introduce the ontology of location and niche theory, as it has been brought forth by Varzi, Casati, and Smith, and develop it so that it can be used in the philosophy of mind. This is a conceptual, semi-formal philosophical analysis. Results: I shall come up with the idea of object conceived of a product of action, and - drawing on von Foerster’s central idea - as a product of coordination of perceptions. Yet, it is not coordination of stimuli but coordination of cognitive connections. The notion of connection is thus articulated in the article and cast as the central concept in my proposal. Implications: We are able to account for both and (2. The apparent stability of the perceived world is due to the setting up and maintaining of connections between the perceiver and the things perceived, resulting in the establishment of what I call a cognitive niche. Constructivist content: Constructivism, broadly construed, takes, in my reading, a negative stance in the first place. Namely, it opposes what I call the metaphysics of the ready-made world. So, it holds that there is no ready-made reality; however it remains open when it comes to positive claims: a mind-independent reality does not exist at all or it does exist but it is not ready-made and as such it must be brought to completion, so to speak, or enacted, as Varela et al. would say, by a cognitive subject. In this article, I follow the latter and address one specific issue: how the enacted world gains its relatively stable architecture. (shrink)
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)
This article praises the development of second order cybernetics by von Foerster, Maturana, and Varela as an important step in deepening our understanding of the bio-psychological foundation of the dynamics of information, cognition, and communication. Luhmann's development of the theory into the realm of social communication is seen as a necessary and important move. The triple autopoietic differentiation between biological, psychological, and social-communicative autopoiesis and the introduction of a technical concept of meaning is central. Finally, the paper shows that (...) second order cybernetics lacks explicit and ontological concepts of emotion, meaning, and a concept of signs. C. S. Peirce's theory is introduced for this purpose. It is then shown, through Varela's development of Spencer Brown's ‘Laws of Form’ from a dual to a dynamic triadic categorical structure, that both theories are triadic and second order, and therefore can be fruitfully fused to a Cybersemiotics. (shrink)
Nomina Sacra : Versuch einer Geschichte der christlichen Kürzung. Von Ludwig Traube, o. ö. Professor der Philologie an der Universitat, München. . Munich: C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. 1907. Pp. x + 295. M. 15.Vorlesungen und Abhandlungen. Von Ludwig Traube. Herausgegeben von Franz Boll. Erster Band. Zur Paläographie und Handschriftenkunde. Herausgegeben von Paul Lehmann. Mit biographischer Einleitung von Franz Boll. Munich: C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. 1909. Pp. lxxv+263.
Carl Schmitt, Der Schatten Gottes: Introspektionen, Tagebücher und Briefe 1921 bis 1924, Hrsg. von Gerd Giesler, Ernst Hüsmert und Wolfgang H. Spindler, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot 2014. / Carl Schmitt, Tagebücher 1925 Bis 1929, Hrsg. von Martin Tielke und Gerd Giesler, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2018 Petar Bojanić, Željko Radinković.
Summary: Because this book has something of the storytelling of cheerful meetings, von Foerster is made more accessible to the novice; however, it does not lose any of its intellectual sharpness. Henri Atlan and Edgar Morin, in particular, greatly influenced by von Foerster and quite famous in French-speaking countries, give a helping hand to those who wish to explore their work further from the perspective of von Foerster's vision and thoughts. And Atlan and Morin take also the (...) credit for the fact that von Foerster has become better known in the French-speaking community. Let us a hope the book will contribute to the further spread of von Foerster's ideas. (shrink)
In the article of Oleh Shepetyak «Dramatic Theology of K. Barth, H.U. von Balthasar and R. Schwager» the analysis of one of the theological concepts of XX - the beginning of XXI century was performed which was developed by Karl Barth, Gustav Aulén, Gans Urs von Balthasar and got the name «dramatic theology». This way of theological reflection appeared as antithesis to liberal theology developed in the dialogue with the Enlightment philosophy. The contribution of main creators of dramatic theology into (...) the development of this study, its role and meaning in Theological discussions of the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council are highlighted in the investigation. (shrink)