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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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Andrew A. M.
What is there to know?
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3657
Andrew A. M.
Questions about constructivism.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2628
A number of observations are made about the nature of constructivism, with the suggestion that it is a less revolutionary development that has been claimed, and that some accounts imply an unwarranted disregard of the environment. The presentation is meant to be provocative and to invite discussion that may clarify the issues.
Overcoming obstacles in learning cybernetic psychology.
When reviewing the prospectus of mainstream universities that offer psychology majors, one would be hard-pressed to find any cybernetic approaches included in their course material. This is an unfortunate observation as most psychological problems arise in a relational context. Reasons for this status quo are presented. The purpose of this paper is to reduce obstacles for prospective learners in cybernetic psychology, with the hope that cybernetic psychology may be assimilated and seen as an equal footing paradigm in mainstream psychology teachings. Design/methodology/approach – A popular cybernetics web site is often used by students who are learning cybernetic psychology. Using the responses from students who frequent the online resource, solutions are presented based on the questions that students have asked the author of the site.
Students are taught different therapy paradigms in terms of models; the psychodynamic model, the medical model, the person-centred model; the systems model and so forth. Their position to the model is external and they can critically evaluate the different models and apply each model in an interpretation and analysis of various psychology case studies. Cybernetic psychology becomes problematic when that line of thinking is used.
Cybernetic psychology stands as an ethical choice for therapy. Reducing the boundaries for cybernetic therapies to be assimilated in the mainstream context, especially if offered by universities as an equal footing paradigm, which would be in keeping with the WHO’s call for responsible ethical therapy interventions. Originality/value – There is limited information on how to perform cybernetic psychology. This is understandable owing to the nature of cybernetics; however, reliable and stable approaches should still be available for students who are new to this epistemology. There needs to be an entering point into this way of thinking so that cybernetic psychology remains accessible to newcomers.
What is cybernetics?
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4319
An address delivered at the University of Valladolid, Spain. Asks the Question-What is Cybernetics?. Discusses popular notions and genuine difficulties. Looks at the origins, derivations and definitions of cybernetics. Considers intrinsic control and Socio-Economic Governance in real- time. Relates cybernetics to the current world situation.
The presence of Norbert Wiener in both order cybernetics.
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.
Heinz von foerster in the art department: A collide-oscope in four parts.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/1011
To provide illumination of how systems tend to produce an output nobody expected. It is in these moments that observers may learn something about their own expectations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses two cases in the history of art: faked Vermeer paintings and a test Heinz von Foerster did in the art department at the University of Illinois.
McLuhan’s notion of the “collide-oscope” is applied to the way Heinz von Foerster (ab)uses images in his own texts; furthermore it is applied to the way the BCL was organized. The formal structure of the “collide-oscope” offers a model of perception. Originality/value – Provides a discussion of a fundamental message of cybernetics – that we cannot escape collisions and disturbances. They are its essence.
This paper relates to the second-order cybernetics of Heinz von Foerster.
Thorpe D. H.
Towards aesthetic seduction using emotional engagement and stories.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/837
This paper aims to provide principles and to give a case study of the application of Bateson’s ideas to promote epistemological change in organisations to deal with problems which many governments currently attempt to address by control through detailed performance indicators and top-down monitoring. It suggests that epistemological change requires an approach that goes beyond rational argument and provides an example of the way that emotional engagement and story telling can be built into action research based on cybernetic ideas. Bateson stresses the need for an epistemological change to embrace an understanding of the implications of circular causation to underpin our approach to problems and policy making. The case study shows how research using systemic principles can address epistemological change at all its stages including data collection and dissemination. In this way the research aims to become a conversation in which participants can reflect on the epistemological assumptions that underpin their actions.
Following Maturana and Bateson it is found that a reflexive conversation that engages participants through emotion and story telling as well as demonstrating reflection on the researcher’s own assumptions can powerfully engage participants in changing how they see problems and what they do. Whilst rational argument can be used to develop and expand a rational domain, including the rational domain of cybernetics, the paper suggests that the introduction of a systemic or cybernetic understanding to newcomers instead requires aesthetic seduction that can be achieved by promoting reflection on epistemological assumptions through story telling and emotional engagement.
Bishop J. M.
Nasuto S. J.
Second-order cybernetics and enactive perception.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/835
To present an account of cognition integrating second-order cybernetics (SOC) together with enactive perception and dynamic systems theory. Methodology – The paper presents a brief critique of classical models of cognition then outlines how integration of SOC, enactive perception and dynamic systems theory can overcome some weaknesses of the classical paradigm.
Presents the critique of evolutionary robotics showing how the issues of teleology and autonomy are left unresolved by this paradigm although their solution ﬁts within the proposed framework.
The paper highlights the importance of genuine autonomy in the development of artiﬁcial cognitive systems. It sets out a framework within which the robotic research of cognitive systems could succeed.
There are no immediate practical implications but see research implications. Originality/value – It joins the discussion on the fundamental nature of cognitive systems and emphasises the importance of autonomy and embodiment.
This paper draws explicit links between second order cybernetics, enactivism and dynamic systems accounts of cognition.
Outline of a cybernetic theory of brain function based on neural timing nets.
The purpose of this paper is to outline an integrative, high-level, neurocomputational theory of brain function based on temporal codes, neural timing nets, and active regeneration of temporal patterns of spikes within recurrent neural circuits that provides a time-domain alternative to connectionist approaches. Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual-theoretical paper draws from cybernetics, theoretical biology, neurophysiology, integrative and computational neuroscience, psychology, and consciousness studies.
The high-level functional organization of the brain involves adaptive cybernetic, goal-seeking, switching, and steering mechanisms embedded in percept-action-environment loops. The cerebral cortex is conceived as a network of reciprocally connected, re-entrant loops within which circulate neuronal signals that build up, decay, and/or actively regenerate. The basic signals themselves are temporal patterns of spikes (temporal codes), held in the spike correlation mass-statistics of both local and global neuronal ensembles. Complex temporal codes afford multidimensional vectorial representations, multiplexing of multiple signals in spike trains, broadcast strategies of neural coordination, and mutually reinforcing, autopoiesis-like dynamics. Our working hypothesis is that complex temporal codes form multidimensional vectorial representations that interact with each other such that a few basic processes and operations may account for the vast majority of both low- and high-level neural informational functions. These operational primitives include mutual amplification/inhibition of temporal pattern vectors, extraction of common signal dimensions, formation of neural assemblies that generate new temporal pattern primitive “tags” from meaningful, recurring combinations of features (perceptual symbols), active regeneration of temporal patterns, content-addressable temporal pattern memory, and long-term storage and retrieval of temporal patterns via a common synaptic and/or molecular mechanism. The result is a relatively simplified, signal-centric view of the brain that utilizes universal coding schemes and pattern-resonance processing operations. In neurophenomenal terms, waking consciousness requires regeneration and build up of temporal pattern signals in global loops, whose form determines the contents of conscious experience at any moment.
Understanding how brains work as informational engines has manifold long-reaching practical implications for design of autonomous, adaptive robotic systems. By proposing how new concepts might arise in brains, the theory bears potential implications for constructivist theories of mind, i.e. how observer-actors interacting with one another can self-organize and complexify. Originality/value – The theory is highly original and heterodox in its neural coding and neurocomputational assumptions. By providing a possible alternative to standard connectionist theory of brain function, it expands the scope of thinking about how brains might work as informational systems.
Dash D. P.
Self-observing collective: An exemplar for design research?
: The International Journal of Cybernetics, Systems and Management Sciences
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/757
This paper sets out to provide arguments and examples supporting the idea that some “wicked” design problems may be usefully approached through the process of bringing forth a self – observing collective, i.e., a community of observers capable of generating and dynamically adjusting a collective standpoint from where new observations can be made. Design/methodology/approach – Interactions within a community of observers can be designed to generate a collective standpoint from where new observations can be made and fed back to the interacting observers, thus ensuring that the collective standpoint also extends the observers’ capacity to observe. Instances of this process are discussed to demonstrate its contribution towards dealing with some wicked design problems.
The paper suggests that one’s capacity to observe, feel, reflect, communicate, and act can be systematically harnessed in a self – observing collective in order to strengthen each member in the face of complex and unstructured problem situations. However, the continued success of the process depends on the effective construction and dynamic maintenance of the collective standpoint that gives the self – observing collective its unique power. Originality/value – The paper borrows certain insights from second – order cybernetics to suggest a way of dealing with ill – structured (and wicked) design problems by facilitating a process of interaction within a community of observers who must be enabled to live with the wickedness of the problem with minimum harm.
The idea of self – observation in research is a gift from cybernetics, especially from the work of Heinz von Foerster, where the idea was central to the framework of second – order cybernetics or cybernetics of observing systems (as opposed to first – order cybernetics, which is the cybernetics of observed systems). The subject matter of the present paper deals with demonstrating the possibility of coordinating interaction of observers in a group setting so that the group itself acquires the dual status of being an observed system as well as an observing system. Such a group can generate new standpoints or schemata based on the inputs from its members, thus giving rise to new viewpoints.
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