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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1994

P.R. Masani

Presents the scientific methodology from the enlarged cybernetical perspective that recognizes the anisotropy of time, the probabilistic character of natural laws, and the…

Abstract

Presents the scientific methodology from the enlarged cybernetical perspective that recognizes the anisotropy of time, the probabilistic character of natural laws, and the entry that the incomplete determinism in Nature opens to the occurrence of innovation, growth, organization, teleology communication, control, contest and freedom. The new tier to the methodological edifice that cybernetics provides stands on the earlier tiers, which go back to the Ionians (c. 500 BC). However, the new insights reveal flaws in the earlier tiers, and their removal strengthens the entire edifice. The new concepts of teleological activity and contest allow the clear demarcation of the military sciences as those whose subject matter is teleological activity involving contest. The paramount question “what ought to be done”, outside the empirical realm, is embraced by the scientific methodology. It also embraces the cognitive sciences that ask how the human mind is able to discover, and how the sequence of discoveries might converge to a true description of reality.

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Kybernetes, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1992

P.R. Masani

Based primarily on the belief that it is man who constructs reality, a trend has grown in recent years to regard cybernetics as superseding the scientific methodology…

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Based primarily on the belief that it is man who constructs reality, a trend has grown in recent years to regard cybernetics as superseding the scientific methodology. Shows the untenability of this belief, its reliance on imprecise language, in particular on the ambiguous term “system”, and reiterates that sound cybernetics is just a part of the scientific tradition, firmly rooted in two Objectivity Axioms. The constructivist trend has drawn attention away from serious and difficult problems, and put the focus on the superficial and the trivial. Offers some suggestions as to how the cybernetical movement can regain contact with the advancing frontiers of science.

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Kybernetes, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1996

P.R. Masani

Explores critically the economic thought of Norbert Wiener with special reference to automatization, of which he was the father and philosopher. Considers the concept and…

Abstract

Explores critically the economic thought of Norbert Wiener with special reference to automatization, of which he was the father and philosopher. Considers the concept and theory in economic science and Wiener’s economics as an axiological science. Examines long‐time and short‐time (contest‐free) economic analysis as discussed by Wiener. Further considerations include the analysis of contest and Wiener’s militarology. Automatization is given special reference and Wiener’s analysis is presented and the humane resolution of the problem discussed. Wienierian ideas are further examined and related to the human condition in a final section: The mandate of heaven.

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Kybernetes, vol. 25 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2002

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Kybernetes, vol. 31 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Rod Thomas and Nigel van Zwanenberg

This paper is written in memory of the late Stafford Beer. The paper engages with only one dimension of the whole man: Stafford Beer as the diagnostician and prognostician…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper is written in memory of the late Stafford Beer. The paper engages with only one dimension of the whole man: Stafford Beer as the diagnostician and prognostician of the social conditions that he so keenly observed.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper revisits a talk that Stafford Beer gave, over three decades ago, to administrators of the UK National Health Service (NHS). It uses the content of the talk, entitled “Health and Quiet Breathing”, to diagnose the problems that have been encountered in the development of NHS information management strategies. The paper concludes with some brief personal recollections of Stafford Beer as a friend and as a teacher.

Findings

The paper finds Stafford Beer's managerial cybernetics to be a useful tool in understanding many of the problems that have beset NHS information management strategies: lack of operational research, problems in the commodification of information, financial scandal, and bureaucracy. In its examination of these issues, the paper recognises Stafford Beer's status as a legatee of not only Norbert Wiener but also of the great philosophers.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates how the problem‐orientation of Stafford Beer's managerial cybernetics continues to be fresh and relevant to today's society and provides a brief portrait of him both as a friend and as a teacher.

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Kybernetes, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1995

P.R. Masani

The ecological movement has fallen short in ignoring the earth’s noospheric layer (dealt with in the second section) and the fact that the life‐destroying interactions…

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Abstract

The ecological movement has fallen short in ignoring the earth’s noospheric layer (dealt with in the second section) and the fact that the life‐destroying interactions stemming from this layer are abnormal (section 3), and that man is a fallen mammal, Homo peccator (discussed in section 4). The symbiosis of Homo sapiens, faber, peccator (see section 5) and the persistent misappropriation of economic surplus value (dealt with in section 6) creates dilemmas for the ecologist (discussed in section 7). The major noospheric pollutants are the marketing sector of capitalism (in section 8), miseducation (section 9) and the promotion of idolatry by the judicial system (see section 10). Ecological action, not evasion, on the economic, educational, communications, aesthetic and political fronts is necessary (dealt with in sections 11 and 12).

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Kybernetes, vol. 24 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1994

Felix Geyer and Johannes van der Zouwen

Aims to analyse the influence of Norbert Wiener’s ideas on the social sciences and on social systems, including society as a whole. Describes Wiener’s own attitudes…

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300

Abstract

Aims to analyse the influence of Norbert Wiener’s ideas on the social sciences and on social systems, including society as a whole. Describes Wiener’s own attitudes regarding the applicability of cybernetics to social systems and his vision on the development of modern society. Highlights sociologists and political scientists who were inspired by his ideas and deals with researchers who tried to apply his ideas to social systems. Concludes by evaluating to what extent specific ideas of Wiener have impacted on the social sciences.

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Kybernetes, vol. 23 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2002

Alex M. Andrew

Two leading contributors to cybernetics have recently died. This communication records matters that arose in correspondence with each of them. Professor Pesi Masani was…

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Abstract

Two leading contributors to cybernetics have recently died. This communication records matters that arose in correspondence with each of them. Professor Pesi Masani was much concerned with the adverse social consequences of modem technology, and a particular aspect of this affecting his native India is discussed. Dr Charles Musès believed that insight into basic aspects of biology would stem from study of cross‐kingdom (animal and plant) parasitism, though unfortunately he did not elaborate the basis of this. An example of human infection by a fungus that usually infests plants is quoted, and also findings from the literature on insect‐transmitted plant viruses. The latter suggest that viruses are truly able to span distinct kingdoms in ways that would certainly have interested Dr Musès.

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Kybernetes, vol. 31 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Kybernetes, vol. 27 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1994

E. Bernard‐Weil

When confronted with issues dealing with first and second order cybernetics, it seems that the manner of defining the former has been somewhat caricatured. The second…

Abstract

When confronted with issues dealing with first and second order cybernetics, it seems that the manner of defining the former has been somewhat caricatured. The second appears to sometimes give rise to conclusions which are almost opposite to those of Wiener by questioning the possibility of a control for a system. We find in Wiener’s research a prefiguration of the autonomy concept, which, in our opinion, could bring an explanation – and a solution – in cases where control elicits some perverse effect; an acceptance of positive feedback if it serves a desired purpose; the central importance held for him by ergodic theory that we use in an addendum on imbalanced strange attractors control; the idea of a knowledge which may be the fruit of the control; an interest for logical paradoxes he put in relation to communication in nervous system; and already the notion of dialogue in the core of the relation man/man or man/machine. Of course, Wiener did not accord an equal development to all his insights, but we have not yet finished scrutinizing his writings. First and second order cybernetics perhaps form an agonistic/antagonistic couple of which neither element could overshadow the other.

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Kybernetes, vol. 23 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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