Context: This conceptual paper tries to tackle the advantages and the limitations that might arise from including second-order science into global climate change sciences, a research area that traditionally focuses on first-order approaches and that is currently attracting a lot of media and public attention. Problem: The high profile of climate change research seems to provoke a certain dilemma for scientists: despite the slowly increasing realization within the sciences that our knowledge is temporary, tentative, uncertain, and far from stable, the public expectations towards science and scientific knowledge are still the opposite: that scientific results should prove to be objective, reliable, and authoritative. As a way to handle the uncertainty, scientists tend to produce “varieties of scenarios” instead of clear statements, as well as reports that articulate different scientific opinions about the causes and dynamics of change (e.g., the IPCC. This might leave the impression of vague and indecisive results. As a result, esteem for the sciences seems to be decreasing within public perception. Method: This paper applies second-order observation to climate change research in particular and the sciences in general. Results: Within most sciences, it is still quite unusual to disclose and discuss the epistemological foundations of the respective research questions, methods and ways to interpret data, as research proceeds mainly from some version of realistic epistemological positions. A shift towards self-reflexive second-order science might offer possibilities for a return to a “less polarized” scientific and public debate on climate change because it points to knowledge that is in principle tentative, uncertain and fragmented as well as to the theory- and observation-dependence of scientific work. Implications: The paper addresses the differences between first-order and second-order science as well as some challenges of science in general, which second-order science might address and disclose. Constructivist content: Second-order science used as observation praxis (second-order observation) for this specific field of research.
This article deals with the problem of how operationally closed systems can construct a reality and therefore get their bearings in the world. But rather than looking for new theoretical solutions, it suggests going back to the empirical philosophical tradition of early modernity, in order to find a solution. Following a suggestion by the leaders of both first- and second-order cybernetics, Wiener and Foerster, this article reframes Hume’s theory of causal inference in order to make the case not only that Hume anticipated second-order cybernetics in interesting ways, but also that modern cognitive sciences can use Hume and second-order cybernetics to inform each other leading to a better understanding of both. Starting from the statement according to which the problem of causality represents ‘one of the most sublime questions in philosophy, ’ the article goes deeply inside the problem of causality in order to argue that the modern approach to epistemology has to be conceived of as a process of internalization of cognitive facts. This search path leads to casting a new light on the paramount concept of sign, conceived of as the possibility that certain environmental events or data again set off the self-reference of a cognitive system, which thus switches from memory to expectation. The aim of this article is finally to show that the main results of an interdisciplinary theory of cognition such as second-order cybernetics are particularly congruent with the speculations of the Scottish philosopher, and that Hume’s reflections maintain an extraordinary relevance regarding the most advanced elaboration of the main epistemological problems
This article deals with the problem of how operationally closed systems can construct a reality and therefore get their bearings in the world. But rather than looking for new theoretical solutions, it suggests going back to the empirical philosophical tradition of early modernity, in order to find a solution. Following a suggestion by the leaders of both firstand second-order cybernetics, Wiener and Foerster, this article reframes Hume’s theory of causal inference in order to make the case not only that Hume anticipated second-order cybernetics in interesting ways, but also that modern cognitive sciences can use Hume and second-order cybernetics to inform each other leading to a better understanding of both. Starting from the statement according to which the problem of causality represents ‘one of the most sublime questions in philosophy, ’ the article goes deeply inside the problem of causality in order to argue that the modern approach to epistemology has to be conceived of as a process of internalization of cognitive facts. This search path leads to casting a new light on the paramount concept of sign, conceived of as the possibility that certain environmental events or data again set off the self-reference of a cognitive system, which thus switches from memory to expectation. The aim of this article is finally to show that the main results of an interdisciplinary theory of cognition such as second-order cybernetics are particularly congruent with the speculations of the Scottish philosopher, and that Hume’s reflections maintain an extraordinary relevance regarding the most advanced elaboration of the main epistemological problems
This review article argues that “situated cognition” is a manifestation of a broadly shared perspective on the nature of causality in complex systems. Crosscutting disciplinary themes reveal that human cognitive processes are inherently social, interactive, personal, biological, and neurological, which is to say that a variety of systems develop and depend on one another in complex ways. The concepts, perspectives, and theoretical frameworks that influenced the situated cognition of the 1980s are still alive in potential for thoughtful reconsideration in tomorrow’s cognitive research.
The paper proposes a renewal of the problem-space in which the relation between psychoanalysis and the cognitive neurosciences is played out, this is in response to the persistent embarrassment or stand-off that characterizes current attempts at dialogue. The authors suggest going beyond classical conceptual oppositions, (mind-body, subject-object etc.), and beyond the seduction of the idea of some ‘natural’ conceptual translation between the two practices. A process of reciprocal ‘transference’ becomes central to creating the space in which the “mixed”, (both biological and subjective), quality of our objects may be recognized and the pitfalls of reductionism be avoided. For psychoanalysis the hysteric was originally such a mixed or “quasi- object’ in which psyche and soma were in a relation of reciprocal representation. On the other hand, the cognitive neurosciences’ ‘embodied-enactive’ and neurophenomenological perspectives provide a philosophical framework for the place of subjectivity and interpretation in scientific work. This important epistemological shift in scientific thinking offers evocative conceptual tools (emergent processes, circular causality), which should transform the difficult dialogue between the neurosciences and psychoanalysis.
In this article, I sketch an enactive account of autism. For the enactive approach to cognition, embodiment, experience, and social interaction are fundamental to understanding mind and subjectivity. Enaction defines cognition as sense-making: the way cognitive agents meaningfully connect with their world, based on their needs and goals as self-organizing, self-maintaining, embodied agents. In the social realm, the interactive coordination of embodied sense-making activities with others lets us participate in each other’s sense-making (social understanding = participatory sense-making). The enactive approach provides new concepts to overcome the problems of traditional functionalist accounts of autism, which can only give a piecemeal and disintegrated view because they consider cognition, communication, and perception separately, do not take embodied into account, and are methodologically individualistic. Applying the concepts of enaction to autism, I show: (1) How embodiment and sense-making connect, i.e., how autistic particularities of moving, perceiving, and emoting relate to how people with autism make sense of their world. For instance, restricted interests or preference for detail will have certain sensorimotor correlates, as well as specific meaning for autistic people. (2) That reduced flexibility in interactional coordination correlates with difficulties in participatory sense-making. At the same time, seemingly irrelevant “autistic behaviors” can be quite attuned to the interactive context. I illustrate this complexity in the case of echolalia. An enactive account of autism starts from the embodiment, experience, and social interactions of autistic people. Enaction brings together the sensorimotor, cognitive, social, experiential, and affective aspects of autism in a coherent framework based on a complex non-linear multi-causality. This foundation allows to build new bridges between autistic people and their often non-autistic context, and to improve quality of life prospects.
How is the field of systems science different from other scientific fields, and how can we distinguish the various traditions within systems science? We propose that there is a set of underlying assumptions which are generally shared within systems science but are less common in other scientific fields. Furthermore, the various traditions within systems science have adopted different combinations of these assumptions. We examine six traditions within systems science – cybernetics, operations research, general systems theory, system dynamics, total quality management, and organizational learning. We then consider eight underlying assumptions – observation, causality, reflexivity, self-organization, determinism, environment, relationships, and holism. We then assess where each tradition stands with respect to each of the underlying
Discusses H. R. Maturana’s (1980) theory of structure determinism and the implications of this theory for family therapy. Propositions of Maturana’s theory are outlined, and implications for the understanding of causality, descriptions of life’s purposes, and clinical practice are described. Maturana’s theory suggests that all problems are in language and that symptoms cannot be seen as having objective meanings or absolute purposes. Another implication is that family therapists cannot speak to families, but only to an individual or to several individuals. The operation of Alcoholics Anonymous is offered as an illustration of Maturana’s theory. It is concluded that a future challenge for family therapists is to shed the myth that they directly instruct, change, control, treat, or cure people.
Purpose: To establish the essential centrality of a circular relationship between acting and understanding, and a role learning plays in this circularity, with special reference to Aristotle’s phronesis and sophia. The purpose of this paper is to establish a position. Design/methodology/approach – The argument is made through critical, cybernetic analysis and argument. Findings: The argument reconceptualises key relationships in the approach to understanding the world, and in education. Research limitations/implications – Research implications are not explored: the argument attempts to lay groundwork for other and later work. Originality/value – The argument establishes a cybernetic circular causality to replace the currently preferred linear causality.
Context: The idea to write this paper sprang up in a casual conversation that led to the question of how the word “experience” would be translated into German. Distinctions between the German “Erleben” and “Erfahren,” and their intricacies with “Erkennen” and “Anerkennen,” soon led to the conviction that this was a thread worth pursuing. Problem: Much has been written about the nature of experience, but there is little consensus, to this day, regarding the role of consciousness in the process of experiencing. Although RC acknowledges the significance of tacit or sensorimotor knowledge in the individual’s practical operating, it cannot admit it as a basis to the formation of conceptual structures that, by definition, are conscious. Method: Drawing from our backgrounds in epistemology and psychology, and a shared interest in Piaget’s psychogenetic approach, we investigate the origins and development of human experience, in this case the mastery of space, time, causation, and object-permanency. We focus on how “noticeable encounters” are gauged, reflected upon, and ultimately worked through, consciously or unconsciously, by the “experiencer.” Results: A child’s abilities to enact a certain action pattern in a given situation no more demonstrates a re-presentation of the pattern than does recognition in the case of objects. In his studies with children, Piaget has shown that the Kantian categories of space, time object, and “causality” are co-constitutive of the child’s own motion – and its felt impact – as a means to make the world cohere. Of importance here are the concepts of “effective causality,” felicitous encounters, and agency. Implications: Understanding the circumstances under which some “lived” events, whether self-initiated or striking as if out of nowhere, become noticeable and able affect a person’s life is a daunting task. This joint essay is no more than a conversation-starter and an invitation to further explore the intricacies between agency and causation, sensation and cognition, and, yes, motions and emotions in the making of consciousness itself.