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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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shows all publications Ernst von Glasersfeld and Francisco Varela wrote together.
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Abraham T. H.
(Physio)logical Circuits: The Intellectual Origins of the McCulloch – Pitts Neural Networks.
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2928
This article examines the intellectual and institutional factors that contributed to the col- laboration of neuropsychiatrist Warren McCulloch and mathematician Walter Pitts on the logic of neural networks, which culminated in their 1943 publication, “A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.” Historians and scientists alike often refer to the McCulloch–Pitts paper as a landmark event in the history of cybernetics, and fundamental to the development of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. This article seeks to bring some historical context to the McCulloch–Pitts collaboration itself, namely, their intellectual and scientific orientations and backgrounds, the key concepts that contributed to their paper, and the institutional context in which their collaboration was made. Al- though they were almost a generation apart and had dissimilar scientific backgrounds, McCulloch and Pitts had similar intellectual concerns, simultaneously motivated by issues in philosophy, neurology, and mathematics. This article demonstrates how these issues converged and found resonance in their model of neural networks. By examining the intellectual backgrounds of McCulloch and Pitts as individuals, it will be shown that besides being an important event in the history of cybernetics proper, the McCulloch– Pitts collaboration was an important result of early twentieth-century efforts to apply mathematics to neurological phenomena.
The Joker in the Box or The Theory Form of the System.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3196
Compared with traditional theories, systems theory presents a deviation. It replaces causal explanation by functional explanation. This paper shows what scandalon is inherent in this substitution and elucidates some models (self-organization, dance, non-triviality, structural coupling) which put the explanatory principle to work. The paper concludes by showing how systems theory aims at a general concept of communication that not only means a passing on of knowledge but above all the tracing of ignorance. Overall, systems theory is presented as a joker dealing with the paradox that the system is never identical to itself as soon as it is considered as a function of itself and its environment. The system has to withdraw into the function it is a function of in order to enfold this paradox.
Vom realitätsverarbeitenden zum realitätserzeugenden Subjekt: Eine philosophische Fundierung der Sozialisationstheorie.
Zeitschrift für Soziologie der Erziehung und Sozialisation
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3851
In der jüngeren Sozialisationstheorie wird vermehrt die Intention formuliert, die Eigenaktivität des Subjektes im Sozialisationsprozess stärker zu berücksichtigen. Zum einen wird dies mit der Formel des ‘produktiv realitätsverarbeitenden Subjektes’ auf den Begriff gebracht, zum anderen bemüht sich insbesondere die kompetenzorientierte ‘konstruktivistische Sozialisationsforschung’ dieses Programm zu verfolgen. Dabei wird jedoch ein handlungstheoretisches Subjektverständnis bemüht, das eine begriffliche Unschärfe produziert, die eine konsistente Subjekttheorie und damit eine trennscharfe Bestimmung der Eigenaktivität des Subjektes erschwert. Um dieses Problem zu lösen, wird in dem Beitrag der Vorschlag gemacht, das Subjekt erkennt-nistheoretisch bzw. -kritisch zu konzipieren. Dadurch wird ein Subjektverständnis instruiert, das die Subjekt-Objekt-Dichotomie überwindet und die Wirklichkeit als je subjektives Konstrukt begreift Der Vorteil dieses zunächst heuristischen Vorschlages liegt einerseits in der Möglichkeit einer konsistenten Subjektbestimmung und andererseits in einer forschungsanleitenden Programmatik, die einen breiteren Zugang zu individuellen Entwicklungsverläufen ermöglicht. – English: From the “individual as a productive processor of reality” to the “individual as a productive producer of reality”. A philosophical foundation of theory of socialization. In recent theory of socialisation there is an increasing awareness giving more attention to the agency of subjects itself in the process of socialization. Direct indications about that change into the focus of theory of socialization are the often used formula of the “ individual as a productive processor of reality” or the programme of the constructivist research of socialization. In both cases still many problems are produced first of all through the idea of an action-theory based subject. One of the main theses in this article is that this understanding aggravates a consistent theory of subject in theories of socialization and so an unequivocal definition of agency of subjects. To solve that problems 1 suggest to conceptualise the subject epistemologically. The consequence of this strategy will offer a comprehension of the subject that is able to overcome the subject-object-dichotomy and to recognize “reality” as a construct made by subjects in a strict sense. On the one hand the advantage of this firstly heuristic proposal is the possibility to ascertain consistently the subject. On the other hand further research may be fruitful instructed because of the broader understanding of individual development. ||
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.
Self-assertion versus self-recognition: A tribute to Francisco Varela.
In: Timmis J. & Bentley P. J. (eds.)
Proceeding of the first international conference on artificial immune system (ICARIS-
. University of Kent, Canterbury: 103–108.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4354
Ten years ago, a group of researchers, led by Francisco Varela, were proposing an alternative vision of the immune system main behavior and function. I was part of this group. This new vision saw the immune system not as behaving distinctively with self and non-self or according to any dichotomy imposed a priori and from outside (the self-recognition vision), but rather as behaving in a unique way. From this indifferent behavior, any external impact would progressively been treated in two different ways, reactive and tolerant, but now, consequently and from inside the system (the self-assertion view). This paper will recall, through a very artificial simulation, the difference existing between these two visions. Also at that time, we believed that, from an engineering perspective, this new vision, emphasizing more the adaptability and the need for endogenous constraints than the recognition and the defensive ability, although less obvious to accept than the classical defensive one, should be more beneficial. These last ten years proved that we haven’t been convincing enough, and in this paper I resume the crusade.
Science as if situation mattered.
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Science
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4373
When he formulated the program of neurophenomenology, Francisco Varela suggested a balanced methodological dissolution of the “hard problem” of consciousness. I show that his dissolution is a paradigm which imposes itself onto seemingly opposite views, including materialist approaches. I also point out that Varela’s revolutionary epistemological ideas are gaining wider acceptance as a side effect of a recent controversy between hermeneutists and eliminativists. Finally, I emphasize a structural parallel between the science of consciousness and the distinctive features of quantum mechanics. This parallel, together with the former convergences, point towards the common origin of the main puzzles of both quantum mechanics and the philosophy of mind: neglect of the constitutive blindspot of objective knowledge.
Foreword: The ages of Francisco Varela.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3200
The present issue is a memorial issue for Francisco Varela both as a scholar and as a colleague. Varela passed away in his home in Paris on May 28 2001. He was part of the editorial board of this journal and thus in this memorial issue we would like to look into his heritage. Most of the papers we present have authors that have known and worked with Varela in some period of their and his life: Ranulph Glanville, Louis Kauffman, Andreas Weber. Weber makes the case that Varela’s thinking can provide a foundation for biosemiotics and as such it provides a further foundation for the cybersemiotic project. Most interesting and promising is his comparison with Varela’s concept of the organism and Bruno Latour’s concept of quasi-objects. The other articles all have some relationship to Varela’s elaboration on the work of Spencer-Brown. Using the metaphor of the Uroboros, Marks-Tarlow, Robertson, and Combs explore the notion of re-entry in Varela’s ‘A Calculus for Self-Reference ’ and his contribution to a theory of consciousness. In their articles, Glanville and Kauffman reflect upon their experience working with Varela on joint papers.
Varela’s Contribution to the Creation of Cybersemiotics: The calculus of self-reference.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3205
The idea of evolution of living beings did not establish a firm foothold in the thinking of our culture until the 19th century. Evolution, though a biological concept, was nevertheless basically understood as a material change in body structure and function. In such a materialistic view great problems occur when one is trying to explain how mind came into being. How is it possible that the original “dead” world consisting of “pure” matter can foster living beings or observers with a sense of their own psychic existence?
Temporal codes, timing nets, and music perception.
Journal of New Music Research
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4140
Temporal codes and neural temporal processing architectures (neural timing nets) that potentially subserve perception of pitch and rhythm are discussed. We address 1) properties of neural interspike interval representations that may underlie basic aspects of musical tonality (e.g., octave similarities), 2) implementation of pattern-similarity comparisons between interval representations using feedforward timing nets, and 3) representation of rhythmic patterns in recurrent timing nets. Computer simulated interval-patterns produced by harmonic complex tones whose fundamentals are related through simple ratios showed higher correlations than for more complex ratios. Similarities between interval-patterns produced by notes and chords resemble similarity-judgements made by human listeners in probe tone studies. Feedforward timing nets extract common temporal patterns from their inputs, so as to extract common pitch irrespective of timbre and vice versa. Recurrent timing nets build up complex temporal expectations over time through repetition, providing a means of representing rhythmic patterns. They constitute alternatives to oscillators and clocks, with which they share many common functional properties.
The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
A book review and commentary of ‘The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience’ by Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, Eleanor Rosch, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, US $25. 0 hardcover, 308 pp., includes figures, appendices, notes, references, index, 1991
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