Context: The idea for this article sprang from a desire to revive a conversation with the late Ernst von Glasersfeld on the heuristic function - and epistemological status - of forms of ideations that resist linguistic or empirical scrutiny. A close look into the uses of humor seemed a thread worth pursuing, albeit tenuous, to further explore some of the controversies surrounding the evocative power of the imaginal and other oblique forms of knowing characteristic of creative individuals. Problem: People generally respond to humor, i.e., they are inclined to smile at things they find funny. People like to crack jokes, make puns, and, starting at age two, human infants engage in pretense or fantasy play. Research on creativity, on the other hand, has mostly scorned the trickster within. Cognitivists in particular are quick to relegate wit, whimsy, and even playfulness to the ranks of artful or poetic frivolities. Method: We use the emblems of the craftsman, the trickster, and the poet to highlight some of the oblique ways of knowing by which creative thinkers bring forth new insights. Each epitomizes dimensions intrinsic to the art of “possibilizing.” Taken together, they help us better understand what it means to be playful beyond curious, rigorous beyond reasonable, and why this should matter, even to constructivists! Results: The musings characteristic of creative individuals (artists, scientists, children) speak to intelligent beings’ ability to use glitches intentionally or serendipitously as a means to open up possibilities; to hold on to a thought before spelling it out; and to resist treating words or images as conventional and arbitrary signs regardless of their evocative power. To fall into nominalism, Bachelard insisted, is a poet’s nightmare! Implications: Psyche is image, said Jung, and when we feel alive we rely on the imaginal to guide our reason. Note that image is not here to be understood as a picture in the head or a photographic snapshot of the world. The imaginal does not represent, it brings forth what we understand beyond words. It does not lock us into a single mode. Instead, it is a call to be mindful, in Ellen Langer’s sense: in the present, mentally alert, and on the outlook for our psyche’s own surprising wisdom (sagacity. Constructivist content: Debates on the heuristic function and epistemological status of oblique ways of knowing have long occupied constructivist scholars. I can only guess whether my uses of Jung’s imaginal or Bachelard’s anti-nominalism would have amused or exasperated Ernst! I do know that, on occasion, Ernst the connoisseur, bricoleur, and translator allowed the rationalist-within to include the poet’s power to evoke as a legitimate form of rationality. He himself has written about oblique knowing as legit!
Upshot: In view of Kenny’s clinical insights, Hug’s notes on the intricacies of rational vs. a-rational “knowing” in the design sciences, and Chronaki & Kynigos’s notice of mathematics teachers’ meta-communication on experiences of change, this response reframes the heuristic power of bisociation and suspension of disbelief in the light of Kelly’s notion of “as-if-ism” (constructive alternativism. Doing as-if and playing what-if, I reiterate, are critical to mitigating intra-and inter-personal relations, or meta-communicating. Their epistemic status within the radical constructivist framework is cast in the context of mutually enriching conversational techniques, or language-games, inspired by Maturana’s concepts of “objectivity in parenthesis” and the multiverse.
Self-reference and recursion characterize a vast range of dynamic phenomena, particularly biological automata. In this paper we investigate the dynamics of self-referent phenomena using the Extended Calculus of Indications (ECI) of Kauffman and Varela, who have applied the ECI to mathematics, physics, linguistics, perception, and cognition. Previous studies have focused on the algebraic structure of the ECI, and on form dynamics using only the arithmetic of Spencer-Brown. We here examine the temporal behavior of self-referent or reentrant forms using the full power of the ECI to represent tangled hierarchies and multiple enfolded dimensions of space-time. Further, we explore the temporal convolution of static and recursive states in coherent fluctuation, providing a foundation for going beyond the Turing model of computation in finite automata. Novel results are presented on the structure of reentrant forms and the canonical elements of form eigenbehavior, the characteristic self-determined dynamic inherent in reentrant forms.
Neurophenomenological (NP) methods integrate objective and subjective data in ways that retain the statistical power of established disciplines (like cognitive science) while embracing the value of first-person reports of experience. The present paper positions neurophenomenology as an approach that pulls from traditions of cognitive science but includes techniques that are challenging for cognitive science in some ways. A baseline study is reviewed for “lessons learned,” that is, the potential methodological improvements that will support advancements in understanding consciousness and cognition using neurophenomenology. These improvements, we suggest, include (1) addressing issues of interdisciplinarity by purposefully and systematically creating and maintaining shared mental models among research team members; (2) making sure that NP experiments include high standards of experimental design and execution to achieve variable control, reliability, generalizability, and replication of results; and (3) conceiving of phenomenological interview techniques as placing the impetus on the interviewer in interaction with the experimental subject.
Excerpt: Very broadly speaking, autonomy is self-determination: the ability to do what one does independently, without being forced so to do by some outside power. The “doing” may be mental, behavioural, neurological, metabolic, or autopoietic: autonomy can be ascribed to a system on a number of different levels.
Luhmanian sociocybernetics is an observation of socio-communicative systems with a specific difference. It is a second order observation of observations understanding society as being ‘functionally differentiated’ into autonomous autopoietic subsystems or meaning worlds in the symbolic generalized media such as money, power, truth, love, art and faith. Only communication communicates and the social is communication. The social system creates products of meaning which do not represent an aggregation of the content of individuals’ minds. The bioand psychological autopoietic systems only establish boundary conditions for the sociocommunicative systems, they do not control the socio-communicative system in any way. Somehow the socio-communicative systems seem to develop on their own (by will?) although they have no body and no subject. The psychic system in Luhmann’s theory is thus not a Kantian or Husserlian transcendental ego in spite of Luhmann’s use of aspects of Husserl’s phenomenology (while at the same time destroying its philosophical frame). On the other hand, Luhmann works with an open ontology, combined with Spencer-Brown’s philosophy that making distinctions is what creates the difference between system and environment. Thus observation is basic to the theory-but where is the observer in the theoretical framework of system theory? The inspiration from Hegel is hidden here, where distinction, creation and evolution merge. Also, Hegel has been taken out of his metaphysical frame while Luhmann never took the time to finish his own. On the other hand, the father of the pragmatic triadic semiotic C. S. Peirce-also inspired by Hegel-explicitly confronted some of these problems. Like Bataille, Peirce sees a continuity between mind and matter and his Firstness contains pure feeling, meaning that there is also an inner experience aspect of matter. The article compares Luhmann’s and Spencer-Brown’s strategies with Peirce’s, the latter of whom built an alternative transdisciplinary theory of signification and communication based on a Panentheistic theory of knowing. Surprisingly it fits well with Spencer-Brown’s metaphysics, which makes it possible to establish a consistent foundation for system theory.
Four of the papers in this issue belong with a set, still in progress, of papers devoted to the implications of the work of Humberto Maturana. Imoto reviews the philosophical nature of Maturana’s work and concludes that Maturana has provided a renewed view of objectivity based on our human biology of cognition. Russell and Ison, as well as Bilson consider the implications of assuming a constitutive ontology in two different domains of praxis, namely in stakeholder involved research, and in addressing the vexed issue of power in social service programs, respectively. Bond addresses the concerns of a runaway technology, and offers a reconciliation between technology and art, suggesting an escape from the demands of technology through generating and participating in networks of conversations as works of art, in what I see as an aesthetic composition of a world to live forth.
In the Western world we have become accustomed to thinking of the body as a purely physical entity, which is separate from the mind and from culture. There are many debates about whether culture affects the body and, if it does so, in what ways and to what extent. However, in this piece I want to explore some of the ways in which the body has been seen as a social construction; that is, as a malleable organism which is open to reformation through its location within historically variable social relations. My position will be slightly different to recent varieties of social constructionism which focus on the discursive production of bodies and, following Foucault, see the body as a surface for textual inscription. From this standpoint the body is theorized as disciplined, regulated and turned into the subject of power. Instead of the metaphor of textual inscription, I want to consider the ways in which the body is made active by social relations: that is, how it is brought into being and mobilized by its positioning in the interweaving networks of interdependence. In this, I adopt a similar outlook to Hirst and Woolley (1982) who argue that social relations have a decisive influence on human attributes, which cannot be characterized as either natural or social, but are both: human attributes are socio-natural. I also share their view that social relations need not form one interconnected whole, but may be fragmentary and disparate (1982: 24). This means that bodily dispositions and capacities will not be uniform or even within cultures, because within any group we will find people of different characters, skills, beliefs or abilities, due largely to the varied influence of social relations upon them.
Emergence is the process by which new structures and functions come into being. There are two fundamental, but complementary, conceptions of emergence: combinatoric emergence, wherein novelty arises by new combinations of pre-existing elements, and creative emergence, wherein novelty arises by de novo creation of new kinds of elements. Combinatoric emergence is exemplified by new strings constructed from existing alphabetic letters, whereas creative emergence is exemplified by the addition of new kinds of letters to an alphabet. The two conceptions are complementary, providing two modes for describing and understanding change: as the unfolding consequences of a fixed set of rules or as new processes and interactions that come into play over time. Within an observer-centered, operational framework, the two kinds of emergent novelty can be distinguished by what an external observer must do in order to successfully predict the behavior of an evolving system. Combinatoric and creative emergence can be operationally distinguished by changes in apparent effective dimensionality. Whenever a new independent observable is added to a model, its dimensionality increases by one. A system that only recombines requires no new observables, and does not expand in effective dimension. In contrast, a system that creates new primitives requires new observables for its description, such that its apparent dimensionality increases over time. Dimensional analysis can be applied to signaling systems. Signals have two basic functional properties: signal-type (category, variable, type) and signal-value (state, value, token). These properties can be conveyed by a variety of means: by the signal’s physical channel, by the internal form of the signal (waveform, Fourier spectrum), by its time of arrival, and by its magnitude (average power). Neural coding schemes can similarly be based on which neurons fire, which temporal patterns of spikes are produced, when volleys of spikes arrive, or how many spikes are produced. Traditional connectionist networks are discussed in terms of their assumptions about signal-roles and neural codes. For the most part, connectionist networks are conceptualized in terms of new linkage combinations rather than in terms of new types of signals being created. Neural networks that increase their effective dimensionalities can be envisioned. Some kinds of neural codes, such as temporal pattern and time-of-arrival codes, permit encoding and transmission of multidimensional information by the same elements (multiplexing). We outline how synchronous time-division and asynchronous code-division multiplexing might be realized in neural pulse codes. Multidimensional temporal codes permit different kinds of information to be encoded in different time patterns. Broadcast-based coordination strategies that obviate the need for precise, specified point-to-point connections are then made possible. In such systems new signal types arise from temporal interactions between time-coded signals, without necessarily forming new connections. Pitches of complex tones are given as examples of temporally-coded, emergent Gestalts that can be seen either as the sums of constituent micro-patterns (combinatoric emergence) or as the creation of new ones. Within these temporally-coded systems, interacting sets of neural assemblies might ramify existing, circulating signals to construct new kinds of signal primitives in an apparently open-ended manner.
Critical criminology and radical constructivism are frequently regarded as an impossible pair – or, at least, as a rather schizophrenic one. This is so, notably, because radical constructivism rests on the (paradoxical) abandonment of what Jean-Francois Lyotard named meta-recits. It rests on the refusal to distinguish between the phenomenal and the symbolic, and thus implies the complete vanishing of the classical difference between ontology and epistemology. This would consequently deprive criminology (or, more generally, the social sciences) of any anchoring point enabling a critical utterance. The present contribution’s thesis is that, on the contrary, radical constructivism can catalyze critical criminology. Among the possible contributions of a radically constructivist sociology of criminalization, this paper focuses on: its call for a reworking of the concept of social control, which avoids problems related to its contemporary usage; its focus on power and force, in a way which avoids Foucaultian perspectives’ aporetic elements, and problematizes every instance of legitimized authoritarian practices.