CEPA eprint 1490 (EVG-202)
A postscript to Kenneth Boulding
Glasersfeld E. von (1997) A postscript to Kenneth Boulding. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 14(3): 221–224. Available at http://cepa.info/1490
Table of Contents
As a participant in the Symposium on the General Systems Paradigm at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Denver, Colorado, in February 1977, Kenneth Boulding seemed to be taking copious notes while the speakers of the Symposium presented their pieces. Then, during the subsequent discussion, he got up and, with his inimitable stammer, read his comments from two hand-written pages. They were in the form of a satirical poem. After the session, I fortunately secured a copy of the manuscript. The poem is presented here in both typed and the original hand-written forms as yet another demonstration of Boulding’s remarkable quickness of wit and intellectual horizon.
From Plato to Boulding philosophers sweatAbout how much reality images net.So we roundabout roundabout roundabout goOn how do we know that we know that we know.And in betweeen long philosophical pausesWe think about causes of causes of causesBut you stand in a great intellectual bogIf you cannot distinguish a leaf from a frog.And when I look into a mirror at meI cannot experience the thing that I seeSo nothing of this makes a great deal of senseWithout the new logic of self refer
Ethnomethodology hopefully fitsThe problem of subjective objective splits.If we listen for ever to talk that is tapedWe finally catch things that might have escaped.But if I become what I partially seeI worry about what has happened to me.
The world that is seen in the eye of a frogIs different from that seen by man or by dogBut any old image will lead to survivalIf each will behave just as well as its rivalAnd so we can prove with experiments neatThat kittens can see with the soles of their feet.So no matter what glasses we wear, we will trainOurselfs to be King of a Knowledge DomainAnd knowledge will mostly turn out to be crapUnless we can learn how to walk on our map.
If we think of the moon as the wife of the sunA proper astronomy gets doneBut think of your wife as a kind of moon,You can bet Dr Freud that you’ll be divorced soon.A fact that creates a wide difference of viewsIs that women feed babies and men seldom do.
If science is seen as a big living systemIt comes from the cells, and unless we have missed ‘emWe find 19 pieces that come right up throughAnd finally end up in me and in you.The nine information types tie us togetherAnd help us explain both the why and the whetherAnd so science fruits into succulent kernelsThat end up as papers in technical journalsAnd from these a sweet emanation arisesThat finally falls out as big Nobel prizes.
A scientist caught out in telling of liesWill never get back in the club till he diesAnd a scientist guilty of mishandling dataWill be found out in time by some dull replicator.And so by the shaving of error, in sooth,What’s left has a large percentage of truth.
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