Publication 3989

Brier S. (1996) From second-order cybernetics to cybersemiotics: A semiotic re-entry into the second-order cybernetics of Heinz von Foerster. Systems Research 13(3): 229–244. Fulltext at
This article praises the development of second-order cybernetics by von Foerster, Maturana and Varela as an important step in deepening our understanding of the biopsychological foundation of the dynamics of cognition and communication. Luhmann’s development of the theory into the realm of social communication is seen as a necessary and important move. The differentiation between biological, psychological and socialcommunicative autopoiesis and the introduction of a technical concept of meaning is central. Furthermore, Varela’s development of Spencer Brown’s ‘Laws of Form’ from a dual to a triadic categorical basic structure is considered vital. Finally the paper shows that second-order cybernetics lacks explicit and ontological concepts of emotion, meaning and a concept of signs. C. S. Peirce’s theory is introduced for this purpose. It is then shown that both theories are triadic and second order, and therefore can be fruitfully fused to a cybersemiotics.


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