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Cybernetics and embodied cognition: on the construction of realities in organisms and robots

Tom Ziemke (School of Humanities and Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 January 2005



To point out the relevance of Heinz von Foerster's work to modern embodied cognitive science and artifical intelligence research.


The paper discusses (a) von Foerster's contributions to understanding the limitations of the computer metaphor which has long dominated cognitive science, and (b) his theories concerning how reality is constructed in organizationally closed organisms, and what the underlying neural mechanisms are. The latter is exemplified with a simple neuro‐robotic model that illustrates the constructive and anticipatory nature of memory.


von Foerster's work on the integration of a radical constructivest philosophy of knowledge construction with models of the underlying neurophysiological and sensorimotor mechanisms is still highly relevant to the understanding of embodied cognition and robotic models thereof.


This paper identifies conceptual contributions that von Foerster's constructivist cybernetics can make to cognitive science's still limited understanding of the embodiment of cognition and “representation”.



Ziemke, T. (2005), "Cybernetics and embodied cognition: on the construction of realities in organisms and robots", Kybernetes, Vol. 34 No. 1/2, pp. 118-128.



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