Cybernetics of Cybernetics Univer sity of Illinois Urbana  Ladies and gentlemenAs you may remember opened my remarks at earlier conferences of our Society with theorems which wing to the generosity o
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Cybernetics of Cybernetics Univer sity of Illinois Urbana Ladies and gentlemenAs you may remember opened my remarks at earlier conferences of our Society with theorems which wing to the generosity o

This all is no history Ho we er uilding on tradition of tw instances you may rightly xpect me to open my remarks today again with theorem Indeed shall do so ut it will not bear my name It can be traced back to Humberto Maturana the Chilean neurophy

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Cybernetics of Cybernetics Univer sity of Illinois Urbana Ladies and gentlemenAs you may remember opened my remarks at earlier conferences of our Society with theorems which wing to the generosity o




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Presentation on theme: "Cybernetics of Cybernetics Univer sity of Illinois Urbana Ladies and gentlemenAs you may remember opened my remarks at earlier conferences of our Society with theorems which wing to the generosity o"— Presentation transcript:


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Cybernetics of Cybernetics Univer sity of Illinois, Urbana 1979 Ladies and gentlemen—As you may remember opened my remarks at earlier conferences of our Society with theorems which, wing to the generosity of Staf ford Beer ha been called “Heinz on oerster Theorem Number One and Number o”. This all is no history  Ho we er uilding on tradition of tw instances, you may rightly xpect me to open my remarks today again with theorem. Indeed shall do so ut it will not bear my name. It can be traced back to Humberto Maturana, the Chilean neurophysiologist, who fe years ago, ascinated

us with his presentation on “autopoiesis”, the or ganization of li ving things. Here is Maturana proposition, which shall no baptize “Humberto Maturana Theorem Number One”: “Anything said is said by an observer Should you at first glance be unable to sense the profundity that hides behind the simplicity of this proposition let me remind you of est Churchman admonition of this afternoon: “Y ou will be surprised ho much can be said by tautology”. This, of course, he said in utter defiance of the logician claim that tautology says nothing. ould lik to add to Maturana Theorem corollary

which, in modesty shall call “Heinz on oerster Corollary Number One”: “Anything said is said to an observer ith these tw propositions nontri vial connection between three concepts has been established. First, that of an observer who is characterized by being able to mak descriptions. This is because of Theorem 1. Of course what an observ er says is description. The second concept is that of langua Theorem and Corollary connect tw observ ers through language. But, in turn, by this connection we ha established the third concept wish to consider this ening, namely that of society the tw observ

ers constitute the elementary nucleus for society Let me repeat the three concepts that are in triadic ashion connected to each other The are: first, the observ ers; second, the language the use; and third, the society the form by the use of their language. This interrelationship can be compared, perhaps, with the interrelationship between the chick en, and the gg, and the rooster ou cannot say who as first and you cannot say who as last. ou need all three in order to ha all three. In order to appreciate what am going to say it might be adv antageous to eep this closed triadic

relation in mind. ha no doubts that you share with me the con viction that the central problems of today are societal. On the other hand, the gigantic problem-solving conceptual apparatus that olv ed in our estern culture is counterproducti not only for solving ut essentially for percei ving social problems. One root for our cogniti blind spot that disables us to percei social problems is the traditional xplanatory paradigm which rests on tw operations: One is causation the other one deduction It is interesting to note that something that cannot be xplained—that is, for which we cannot sho

cause or for which we do not ha reason—we do not wish to see. In other ords, something that cannot be xplained cannot be seen. This is dri en home again and again by Don Juan, aqui Indian, Carlos Castaneda mentor It is quite clear that in his teaching ef forts Don Juan ants to mak cogniti blind spot in Castaneda vision to be filled with ne perceptions; he ants to mak him “see”. This is doubly dif ficult, because of Castaneda dismissal
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of xperiences as “illusions for which he has no xplanations on, the one hand, and because of peculiar property of the logical

structure of the phenomenon “blind spot on the other hand; and this is that we do not percei our blind spot by for instance, seeing black spot close to the center of our visual field: we do not see that we ha blind spot. In other ords, we do not see that we do not see. This will call second order deficienc and the only ay to ercome such deficiencies is with therapies of second order The popularity of Carlos Castaneda books suggest to me that his points are being understood: ne paradigms emer ge. I’m using the term “paradigm in the sense of Thomas uhn who ants to indicate with

this term culture specific, or language specific, stereotype or model for linking descriptions semantically As you may remember Thomas uhn ar gues that there is major change in paradigms when the one in ogue be gins to ail, sho ws in- consistencies or contradictions. ho we er ar gue that can name at least tw instances in which not the emer gent defecti eness of the dominant paradigm ut its ery fla wlessness is the cause for its rejection. One of these instances as Copernicus no el vision of heliocentric planetary system which he percei ed at time when the Ptolemaeic

geocentric system as at its height as to accurac of its predictions. The other instance, submit, is being brought about today by some of us who cannot—by their life—pursue an longer the fla wless, ut sterile path that xplores the properties seen to reside within objects, and turn around to xplore their ery properties seen no to reside within the observ er of these objects. Consider for instance, “obscenity”. There is at aperiodic interv als ritual performed by the supreme judges of this land in which the attempt to establish once and for all list of all the properties that define

an obscene object or act. Since obscenity is not property residing within things (for if we sho Mr painting and he calls it obscene, we kno lot about Mr ut ery little about the painting), when our la wmak- ers will finally come up with their imaginary list we shall kno lot about them ut their la ws will be dangerous nonsense. ith this come no to the other root for our cogniti blind spot and this is peculiar delusion within our estern tradition, namely “objecti vity”: “The properties of the observ er shall not enter the description of his observ ations. But ask, ho ould it be possible to

mak description in the first place if not the observ er were to ha properties that allo ws for description to be made? Hence, submit in all modesty the claim for objecti vity is non sense! One might be tempted to ne gate “objecti vity and stipulate no “subjecti vity”. But, ladies and gentlemen, please remember that if nonsensical proposition is ne gated, the result is again nonsensical proposition. Ho we er the nonsensicality of these propositions either in the af firmati or in their ne gation cannot be seen in the conceptual frame ork in which these propositions ha been uttered.

If this is the state of af airs, what can be done? ha to ask ne question: “What are the properties of an observ er? Let me at once dra your attention to the peculiar logic underlying this question. or whate er properties we may come up with it is we, you and I, who ha to mak this observ ation, that is, we ha to observ our wn observing, and ultimately account for our wn accounting. Is this not opening the door for the logical mischief of propositions that refer to themselv es (“I am liar”) that ha been so successfully xcluded by Russell Theory of ypes not to bother us er again? es and No! It is

most gratifying for me to report to you that the essential conceptual pillars for theory of the observ er ha been ork ed out. The one is a, calculus of infinite recursions; the other one is calculus of self-reference. ith these calculi we are no able to enter rigorously conceptual frame ork which deals with observing and not only with the observ ed. Earlier proposed that therap of the second order has to be in ented in order to deal with dysfunctions of the second order submit that the ybernetics of observ ed systems we may consider to be first-order ybernetics; while second-order

ybernetics is the ybernetics of observing systems. This is in agreement with another formulation that has been gi en by Gordon ask. He, too, distinguishes tw orders of analysis. The one in which the observ er enters the system by stipulating the system purpose. may call this “first-order stipulation”. In “second-order stipulation the observ er enters the system by stipulating his own purpose.
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From this it appears to be clear that social ybernetics must be second order ybernetics—a cybernetics of cybernetics —in order that the observ er who enters the system shall be allo

wed to stipulate his wn purpose: he is autonomous. If we ail to do so somebody else will determine purpose for us. Moreo er if we ail to do so, we shall pro vide the xcuses for those who ant to transfer the responsibility for their wn actions to somebody else: “I am not responsible for my actions; just obe orders. Finally if we ail to recognize autonomy of each, we may turn into society that attempts to honor commitments and for gets about its responsibilities. am most grateful to the or ganizers and the speak ers of this conference who permitted me to see ybernetics in the conte xt of social

responsibility mo to gi them strong hand. Thank you ery much. Notes Beer S., Platform for Chang 327, Ne ork: ile 1975. eston, .E. and on oerster H., Artificial intelligence and machines that understand”, in Eyring, H., Chris- tensen, C. H., and Johnston, H. S. (Eds.), Annual Re vie of Physical Chemistry 24: 358–378, alo Alto: Annual Re vie Inc., 1973. Maturana, H., “Neurophysiology of cognition”, in Garvin, (Ed.), Co gnition, Multiple ie 3–23, Ne ork: Spartan Books, 1970. Castaneda, C., The eac hings of Don uan: aqui ay of Knowledg Ne ork: Ballantine, 1969. Castaneda, C., Separ ate

Reality Ne ork: Simon and Schuster 1971. Castaneda, C., ourne to Ixtlan Ne ork: Simon and Schuster 1972. Castaneda, C., ales of ower Ne ork: Simon and Schuster 1974. uhn, ., The Structur of Scientific Re volution Chicago: Uni ersity of Chicago Press, 1962. Note #2. arela, E, calculus for self-reference”, International ournal of Gener al Systems 2, No. 1: 1–25, 1975. ask, G., “The meaning of ybernetics in the beha vioral sciences (the ybernetics of beha vior and cognition: xtending the meaning of ’goal’) in Rose, J. (Ed.), Pr gr ess in Cybernetics ol. 1: 15–44, Ne ork: Gordon and Breach,

1969.