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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Tirumala Rao Vinnakota, Faisal L Kadri, Simon Grant, Ludmila Malinova, Peter Davd Tuddenham and Santiago Garcia

The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the growth of the cybernetics discipline in new directions.

Design/methodology/approach

After the American Society for Cybernetics ALU 2013 conference in Bolton, a small group of conference participants continued the conversations they had begun during the event, focusing on the comparison of the terms “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The group felt the need for clearer distinctions drawn (or designed) between the terms, in order to sustain the discipline of cybernetics and to support its growth. The aim of providing these distinctions is that theory should feed into practice and practice should feed into theory, forming a cybernetic loop, so that the discipline of cybernetics is sustained while growing. The conference participants had conversations between themselves, and came up with multiple perspectives on the distinction between “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The distinctions drawn mirror the distinctions between Science and Design: the science of cybernetics contrasted with the design of cybernetics.

Findings

The findings of this paper consist of recommendations to understand and act differently in the field of the discipline of cybernetics. In particular, a clear distinction is suggested between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician”. It is also suggested that in order for cybernetics to grow and be sustained, there should be a constant flow of developments in theory of cybernetics into the practice of cybernetics and vice-versa.

Originality/value

The authors believe that some people (called “cyberneticists”) should work on the science side of cybernetics, making strong contributions to the understanding and development of cybernetics theory. Others, (called “cyberneticians”) should work on the design side of cybernetics, to contribute through their actions and through the development of cybernetics practice. The result of this will be a self-organization that evolves naturally between theory and practice of cybernetics, leading to better learning of cybernetics, and in the process, sustaining it through continued growth. In this direction, the paper proposes several radical suggestions that may not be to the liking of traditionalists, but may be better received by the scientists and designers of cybernetics who can make a difference to the growth of the discipline of cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1983

BRUCE ENGLAND

Second‐order cybernetics, as developed by Foerster, has shown that the perceived environment is our invention. Cyberneticians also need to realize that this invented…

Abstract

Second‐order cybernetics, as developed by Foerster, has shown that the perceived environment is our invention. Cyberneticians also need to realize that this invented environment occurs within a particular operational state of the nervous system in humans, and that a basic modification of this state creates another operational state. In the first state, cybernetic operations create an experienced reality of differentiated duality. The second state is noncybernetic because information creation does not occur, thus it has no content and is experienced as undifferentiated unity. The transition between states depends upon the shifting of attention away and back to from content creation. Awareness of the duality‐unity model creates a framework for a cybernetic theory of reality recomputation in which the content experience of duality is impacted and changed by the no‐content experience of unity. This theory within cyberneticians can be based upon the experience of others or upon personal experience.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

Victor Ronald David MacGill

The dominant paradigms of the world today are reductionist and linear and have led us towards crises in the environment, economics, health and more. Cybernetics is one…

Abstract

Purpose

The dominant paradigms of the world today are reductionist and linear and have led us towards crises in the environment, economics, health and more. Cybernetics is one alternative paradigm, which moves beyond reductionist thought. The paper aims to investigate cybernetics and how it might move from a paradigm to a way of living. A cybernetic worldview enables us to see ourselves as partners in dynamic co-creative processes reaching beyond dualities. To live by such a life requires courage. This paper concentrates on how cybernetics principles may be applied on an individual basis to provide a more holistic way of coping with the challenges of everyday life in the early twenty-first century. The author sees how he can live a balanced life, cope with uncertainty, live with courage, move beyond dualities and develop a breadth of knowledge to help us navigate the events of the lives.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a brief outline of some cybernetic principles and how they might be transferred to a cybernetic lifestyle. The focus is on how the author might integrate cybernetic principles into the individual life on a day-to-day basis.

Findings

Breadth of knowledge, moving beyond dualities, the observer, living with courage, uncertainty and living a balanced life are discussed from a cybernetic viewpoint.

Practical implications

It gives cyberneticians cause to consider their lives and how cybernetic principles help them in everyday life.

Social implications

The more cyberneticians exhibit cybernetics principles in their life, the more it will be noticed by those around them.

Originality/value

The approach of this paper is about cybernetics as an individual lifestyle rather than a more generalised examination of the role of cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 42 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 May 2020

Tom Scholte

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a more central role for reflexive artistic practices in a clarified research agenda for second-order cybernetics (SOC). This is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a more central role for reflexive artistic practices in a clarified research agenda for second-order cybernetics (SOC). This is offered as a way to assist the field in the further development of its theoretical/methodological “core” and, subsequently, enhance its impact on the world.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument begins by reviewing Karl Müller’s account of the failure of SOC to emerge as a mainstream endeavor. Then, Müller’s account is recontextualized within recent developments in SOC that are traced through the Design Cybernetics movement inspired by Ranulph Glanville. This alternate narrative frames a supposedly moribund period as a phase of continuing refinement of the field’s focus upon its “proper object of study,” namely, the observer’s mentation of/about their mentation. The implications of this renewed focus are then positioned within Larry Richard’s vision of the cybernetician, not as “scientist” per se but rather as a “craftsperson in and with time” capable of productively varying the dynamics of their daily interactions. Having centered widespread capacity building for this “craft” as a proposed research agenda for a new phase of SOC, the paper concludes by pointing to the unique and necessary role to be played by the arts in this endeavor. Personal reflections upon the author’s own artistic and theoretical activities are included throughout.

Findings

The development and application of artistic methods for the enhancement of individual capacity for second-order observation is consistent with the purpose of SOC, namely, “to explain the observer to himself.” Therefore, it is in the field’s interest to more fulsomely embrace non-scientific, arts-based forms of research.

Research limitations/implications

In a truly reflexive/recursive fashion, the very idea that first-person, arts-based narratives are seen, from a mainstream scientific point of view, as an insufficiently rigorous form of research is, itself, a research limitation. This highlights, perhaps ironically, the need for cybernetics to continue to pursue its own independent definitions and standards of research beyond the boundaries of mainstream science rather than limiting its own modes of inquiry in the name of “scientific legitimacy.”

Practical implications

A general uptake of the view presented here would expand the horizon of what might be considered legitimate, rigorous and valuable research in the field.

Social implications

The view presented here implies that many valuable contributions that SOC can make to society take place beyond the constraints of academic publication and within the realm of personal growth and social development.

Originality/value

The very clearly defined and “refocused” vision of SOC in this paper can be of substantial utility in developing a more robust, distinctive and concrete research agenda across this field.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2011

Bernard Scott

The purpose of this paper is to review the relationship between cybernetics and psychology.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the relationship between cybernetics and psychology.

Design/methodology/approach

The paradigms of cybernetics are reviewed and then applied to psychology.

Findings

Applying the paradigms of cybernetics to psychology provides a conceptually coherent account of what is a psychological individual.

Originality/value

It is of value to bring conceptual coherence to the discipline of psychology, which, thus far in its history, has lacked it.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1991

Stafford Beer

The author gives his reflections as a cybernetician on the practice of planning in a presentation directed at a professional audience of planners.

Abstract

The author gives his reflections as a cybernetician on the practice of planning in a presentation directed at a professional audience of planners.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2004

Bernard Scott

In 1974, Heinz von Foerster articulated the distinction between a first‐ and second‐order cybernetics, as, respectively, the cybernetics of observed systems and the…

Abstract

In 1974, Heinz von Foerster articulated the distinction between a first‐ and second‐order cybernetics, as, respectively, the cybernetics of observed systems and the cybernetics of observing systems. Von Foerster's distinction, together with his own work on the epistemology of the observer, has been enormously influential on the work of a later generation of cyberneticians. It has provided an architecture for the discipline of cybernetics, one that, in true cybernetic spirit, provides order where previously there was variety and disorder. It has provided a foundation for the research programme that is second‐order cybernetics. However, as von Foerster himself makes clear, the distinction he articulated was imminent right from the outset in the thinking of the early cyberneticians, before, even, the name of their discipline had been coined. In this paper, the author gives a brief account of the developments in cybernetics that lead to von Foerster's making his distinction. As is the way of such narratives, it is but one perspective on a complex series of events. Not only is this account a personal perspective, it also includes some recollections of events that were observed and participated in at first hand.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 33 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2009

Johannes van der Zouwen and R. Felix Geyer

The purpose of this paper is to sketch the most valuable contribution of Dr Rose to the development of social cybernetics over the period 1975‐1995.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to sketch the most valuable contribution of Dr Rose to the development of social cybernetics over the period 1975‐1995.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an analysis of the proceedings of the sections on “Social Systems” or “Social Cybernetics” of the WOSC conferences from 1978 through 1991, and on an analysis of the entries of the Bibliography on Social Cybernetics (1998).

Findings

The sections on “Social Systems” of the International Congresses on Systems and Cybernetics, initiated by Dr Rose, provided in the period 1978‐1995 the most important meeting point for social scientists aiming at the application of the cybernetic approach to social systems and social processes, and for cyberneticians wanting to use the principles of cybernetics for the analysis and solution of social problems.

Originality/value

The paper shows how the journal Kybernetes, founded by Dr Rose, became the most frequently used publication medium of social cyberneticians: of the 184 papers on social cybernetics mentioned in this bibliography 76 (41 per cent) were published in Kybernetes, more than in any other journal in the domain of cybernetics or social science.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 38 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 February 1999

D.M. Hutton

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

This article has been withdrawn as it was published elsewhere and accidentally duplicated. The original article can be seen here: 10.1108/eb005900. When citing the…

Abstract

This article has been withdrawn as it was published elsewhere and accidentally duplicated. The original article can be seen here: 10.1108/eb005900. When citing the article, please cite: Stafford Beer, (1991), “Reflections of a Cybernetician on the Practice of Planning”, Kybernetes, Vol. 20 Iss: 6, pp. 8 - 13.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 33 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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