This paper is inspired by Edgar Morin’s paradigm of complexity and his constructivist and non-dualistic critique of scientific and philosophical forms of reductionism. It aims to challenge the fragmentation and the reduction framing the understanding of the notion of “critique” in educational sciences, and more broadly in the academia. Based on a review of the literature identified in French-speaking and English-speaking critical traditions in education, several factors determining the way the idea of critique is reduced are highlighted. Stressing the tacit character of those variables challenges the limits of traditional conceptions of critique in contemporary education. According to the constructivist, complex and non-dualistic position adopted, this paper illustrates the relevance of an epistemological framework integrating more systematically the conditions of emergence, the limitations, as well as the antagonistic, complementary and contradictory relationships, that connect educational theories of critique to one another. Based on this position, this paper finally suggests that a distinction be made between “hypocritique” and “hypercritique” as a semantic artifact, stressing the importance of challenging educational research and theories according to the level of complexity that one may attribute to them.
The book uses the method and categories of systems theory (inspired by Niklas Luhmann) in a scrutiny of the evolution of the main semantic trends of modern society and its influence in the formation of the systemic boundaries of the social systems of society. The book is an investigation of the meaning of the functional differentiation according to its semantic symptoms and evolution. In order to reconstruct the semantic evolution of basic modern socio-economic categories the book is divided according to the three classic branches of the political philosophy of the classic tradition, the Aristotelian division also conserved in Hegel’s own distribution of the themes of his “Sittlichkeit” – family, civil society and the state. Thus, in “The Individuation of Modern Society” the author explores the classic notion of oikós and its opposition to the pólis, the evolution of the concept of utility in modern times and its importance to the formation of the modern political economy and the economic system as an autonomous functional system, the idea of “civil society,” its meaning in the Hegelian description of the social modernity, the fragmentation of XVIIIth century civil society according to the use of the term “Entzweiung” in the Hegelian philosophical vocabulary, and the formation of the concept of the nation as a self-referential condition of the political system. The book finishes with a discussion of Niklas Luhmann’s theory of functional differentiation and his concept of the political system. Relevance: The book applies second-order cybernetics to the analysis of the evolution of modern social systems, especially in the case of the formation of self-referential conditions for the observation and reproduction of the systems.
This paper discusses how the second order cybernetics of von Foerster, Maturana, Varela and Luhmann, can be fruitfully integrated with Peirce’s semiotics through the bio-semiotics of Hoffmeyer. The conclusion is that what distinguish animals from machines is that they are autopoietic, have code-duality and through their living organization constitutes a biological interpretant. Through this they come to inhabit a new life world: their games of life take place in their own semiotic Umwelt (von Uexküll). It is the biological context and the history of the species and the individual the determine the meaning of signs in the structural couplings that constitutes the channels of communication. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s theory of language games as the context that determines semantic content of the expressions of sentences, we suggest that animals participate in sign games.
In this paper, a semiotic framework for natural and artificial adaptive percept-action systems is presented. The functional organizations and operational structures of percept-action systems with different degrees of adaptivity and self-construction are considered in terms of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic relations. Operational systems-theoretic criteria for distinguishing semiotic, sign-systems from nonsemiotic physical systems are proposed. A system is semiotic if a set of functional sign-states can be identified, such that the system’s behavior can be effectively described in terms of operations on sign-types. Semiotic relations involved in the operational structure of the observer are outlined and illustrated using the Hertzian commutation diagram. Percept-action systems are observers endowed with effectors that permit them to act on their surrounds. Percept-action systems consist of sensors, effectors, and a coordinative part that determines which actions will be taken. Cybernetic systems adaptively steer behavior by altering percept-action mappings contingent on evaluated performance measures via embedded goals. Self-constructing cybernetic systems use signs to direct the physical construction of all parts of the system to create new syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic relations. When a system gains the ability to construct its material hardware and choose its semiotic relations, it achieves a degree of epistemic autonomy, semantic closure, and pragmatic self-direction.
Creativity involves the generation of useful novelty. Two modes of creating novelty are proposed: via new combinations of pre-existing primitives (combinatoric emergence) and via creation of fundamentally new primitives (creative emergence). The two modes of creativity can be distinguished by whether the changes still fit into an existing framework of possibility, or whether new dimensions in an expanded interpretive framework are needed. Although computers are well suited to generating new combinations, it is argued that computations within a framework cannot produce new primitives for that framework, such that non-computational constructive processes must be utilised to expand the frame. Mechanisms for combinatoric and creative novelty generation are considered in the context of adaptively self-steering and self-constructing goal-seeking percept-action devices. When such systems can adaptively choose their own sensors and effectors, they attain a degree of epistemic autonomy that allows them to construct their own meanings. A view of the brain as a system that creates new neuronal signal primitives that are associated with new semantic and pragmatic meanings is outlined.
This chapter considers the ethical and epistemological consequences of the enactive notion of “languaging” as whole-bodied, intersubjective sense-making. Making sense in language is defined as a process of moving from stable, shared sense, through idiosyncratic non-sense, to a locally produced, co-available or interactively afforded sense. Enactive concepts of autonomy, autopoiesis, adaptivity, and precariousness imply radical idiosyncrasy in how individuals incorporate the means and moves needed to cope in enlanguaged environments. Differences in sense-making style s predict misunderstanding in social interactions. How do participants of linguistic sense-making share meaning? Presenting meaning as a consequence of mindfulness and misunderstanding, this chapter attempts to include the interiority and variety of experience in descriptions of linguistic participatory sense-making. It gives semantic weight to particularity without losing sight of interactional sources of normativity and intentionality.
Context: Traditional research on the fiction/non-fiction distinction is the fruit of an essentialist methodology in which the procedures of ontologizing and textualizing are assumed as obligatory. Ontologizing and textualizing form the basic discursive technique, in which analyses are focused on the object as the semantic centre. Theory of literary fiction – deeply rooted in Alexius Meinong’s theory of non-existent objects – is object-orientated and, as a result, is always ontologically involved/engaged. Problem: The re-description of the fundamental literary problems as a kind of epistemological experiment for which non-dualizing philosophy is a foundation. Considerations are aimed at providing answers/solutions to the three following issues: 1. Is it possible to connect non-dualism with a literary discourse about literary fiction? 2. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to a philologically-orientated discourse? 3. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to the constructivist approach to the problem of fiction? Approach: Mitterer’s non-dualism is considered from both the context of ontologically-orientated discourse about fiction and literary research and the context of constructivist discourse about fiction. Results: Mitterer’s non-dualizing conception may be considered a foundation of a radical non-essentialist way of thinking about literary fiction. As a result, the philologically-orientated research on literary text, focused on the explanation of its semantics, would rather move towards a culturally-, pragmatically-, and/or sociologically- orientated type of discourse. The notion of (literary) fiction should be reformulated as follows: fiction is not the reason for interpretation; fiction is the result of interpretation because the description comes from the object of speech (from-object-cognition). Implications: This is only an introduction to the project of a potential non-ontologizing discourse about literary fiction. Therefore it should be developed and discussed as the option for the dualizing type of the discourse as it still stirs up a lot of controversies.
Abstract: Under the aspect of constructivism evolution generates the varying boundary conditions to which evolution itself then is subject. This applies for organic as well as for cognitive evolution. The currently valid conditions for cognitive evolution we describe as laws of nature brought about by an independent reality. Within the constructivist evolutionary epistemology CEE), however. the regularities we perceive and which we condense to the laws of nature are seen as the invariants of phylogenetically formed cognitive operators. The extension of the inborn operators by means of experimental operators (i.e. by measurement facilities) will lead to the consolidation of the classical world picture if both _are _commutable. Otherwise there will be invariants which cannot be described in classical terms and, which therefore, will require non-classical theories. Likewise mathematical and logical structures can be seen as invariants of cognitive operators. It is shown that the propositions of Gödel would deal with what can be considered as the analogy of non-classical phenomena in physics. To renounce reality as an element of physical metatheory requires some rearrangements of those notions which explicitly refer to reality such as acting and perceiving, learning and adapting, and, partially, language. It turns out that the distinction between acting and perceiving is not unambiguous as it is in the “theory of reality.” Similarly we can see learning as a process of adaptation to the given environment as well as an independent development into something for which an appropriate environment or application still has to be found. It will be shown that both “adaptive” and “initiative” evolution occur in organic as well as in cultural evolution. Within CEE, language is seen as a “generative” theory rather than as a tool to portray independently existing facts. Its competence is based on the fact that it is generated by mechanisms closely related to those generating our physical perceptions. A similar genetically grounded relationship between mental operators enables mathematics to compress empirical data into a generating theory, and then, based on this theory, to extrapolate them (problem of induction). The linguistic equivalent of algorithmic data compression and the subsequent extrapolation is the recognition of a text’s meaning, and the subsequent drawing of conclusions from it, or semantic extrapolation as proposed to say. Accordingly, communication can be defined. Some parallels are discussed between verbal, cultural and genetic communication.
Context: Non-dualistic thinking is an alternative to realism and constructivism. Problem: In the absence of a distinct definition of the term “description,” the question comes up of what exactly can be included in non-dualistic descriptions, and in how far the definition of this term affects the relation between theory and empirical practice. Furthermore, this paper is concerned with the question of whether non-dualism and dualism differ in their implications. Method: I provide a wider semantic framework for the term “description” by means of George Spencer Brown’s terminology in his calculus of indications as laid out in Laws of Form. The connection of descriptions and distinctions enables descriptions to comprise reflections and language as well as empirical observations. Results: Non-dualism can be thought of in different ways but still has essential elements in common with dualism. Implications: Non-dualism, as well as dualism, is an argumentation technique suitable for specific situations, but without significant differences in implications.
This paper reviews Pattee’s ideas about the symbolic domain as a phenomenon related to the self-simplifying processes of certain hierarchical systems, such as the living. We distinguish the concepts of constraint, record, and symbol to explain how the Semantic Closure Principle, that is to say, the view that symbols are self-interpreted by the cell, emerges. Related to this, the notion of complementarity is discussed both as an epistemological and as an ontological principle. In the final discussion we consider whether autonomous systems can exist in which constraints are not symbolically preserved, and if biological symbols can be considered to have a descriptive nature.