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Evolution of cybernetics: philosophical and methodological analysis

Vladimir Lepskiy (Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 27 November 2017

Issue publication date: 7 February 2018




The aim of this paper is to elaborate the connection between the evolution of cybernetics and the development of scientific rationality (classical, non-classical, post-non-classical) and to emphasize the relevance of the formation of post-non-classical cybernetics for self-developing reflexive-active environment (the third-order cybernetics).


This paper includes interdisciplinary analysis of the evolution of cybernetics and possible directions of its development.


A connection between the types of scientific rationality (classical, non-classical and post-non-classical) and the stages of the development cybernetics is presented. Classical rationality is first-order cybernetics dealing with observed systems (an external observer). Non-classical rationality is second-order cybernetics dealing with observing systems (built-in observer). Post-non-classical rationality is third-order cybernetics dealing with the self-developing reflexive-active environment (distributed observer).

Research limitations/implications

This is an initial theoretical conceptualization, which needs a broader assessment and case studies.

Practical implications

This proposed direction for the analysis of cybernetics opens new approaches to social control on the basis of the subject-focused models and integration of traditional cybernetic tools.

Social implications

Third-order cybernetics will promote the development of civil society. Direct democracy receives new tools for development.


The value of this research is in the interdisciplinary analysis of the cybernetics evolution and in new possible directions for its development.



This work is partly funded by Russian Science Foundation, project 17-18-01326.


Lepskiy, V. (2018), "Evolution of cybernetics: philosophical and methodological analysis", Kybernetes, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 249-261.



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