Heinz von Foerster Festschrift

Some Words about Being a Human

Un-academic reflections about a Magician of Life, dedicated to Heinz von Foerster—with gratitude and poetry

"Yet as soon as the sentence 'I see a tree' is thus pronounced that it does not tell us anymore of a relation between man-me and tree-you, but tells us to perceive the nature of tree by the consciousness of man, than this sentence has erected the barrier between subject and object: the basic word me-it, the word of separation, has been pronounced." (Martin Buber, translated from German)

I believe that Heinz von Foerster has the same opinion regarding this view as Martin Buber; he responds to the "schizophrenic" attitude about the world of separation with his mischievous-mystical view of connecting man, animal, plant, stone, ... and the entire universe.

Especially because he "celebrates" this life philosophy without any moral attitudes or dogmatism, is he here, is he that close to me, as is hardly anybody else.

In his books, lectures and seminars I encounter a magician, a magician who takes the world into his arms to "dance tango with it"—never alone, always together, in dialogue, in mutuality and respect.

With that Heinz von Foerster builds a world that starts with confidence, honesty and affection—a world of partnership. This, in my opinion, is the extraordinary achievement of this wonderful man.

This achievement represents a motivation to me, to follow after it, not in the sense of imitating it, but in the sense of making an own contribution, which I discover little by little, after having listened attentively and gratefully to the other one.

I see Heinz von Foerster as a "pioneer of entirety". May the words of the pioneer's Lord always accompany him:

"When the chain of foolish and pitiful fears loosens and sets me free, and when my heart lies not in battle with my mind, then my life will be at peace."

Surely Heinz has a new plan by now.

With affection and respect.

Dr. Andreas Philipp


Management consultant and seeker of the Un-academic
Munich, January 30, 2001

Heinz von Foerster Festschrift