From cybernetics to the science of complexity

Cor van Dijkum (Department of Methodology and Statistics, Faculty of Social Science, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 1 August 1997


Cybernetics started when Wiener stated that not only observations but also the way the observer feeds them back into reality are part of science. Dynamic system analysis supported the art and science of steering with feedback by computer modelling techniques. Cybernetics introduced the question of how self‐reference functioned in the feedback between observer and models. This led to the idea of cybernetics of the second order. Analyses the logic of feedback and how it relates to the question of how logical, mathematical and linguistic instruments can articulate scientific observations and connected theories. Uses the concept of complexity to relate cybernetics to the interdisciplinary practice of modern science. Presents the notion of “strangification” as a concept by which the transfer of knowledge from one discipline to another can be better understood and facilitated.



van Dijkum, C. (1997), "From cybernetics to the science of complexity", Kybernetes, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 725-737.

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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