Volume 1 · Number 1 · Pages 35–48

< Previous Paper · Next Paper >

People, Tools, and Agency: Who Is the Kybernetes?

Herbert F. J. Müller

Download the full text in
PDF (165 kB)


Purpose: This conceptual-epistemological paper deals with the old problem of inversion of thinking, as typified by traditional metaphysics-ontology. It is proposed that a thorough constructivism – which views structures of mind, nature, and all, as not derived from (not referring to) any pre-structured given mind-independent reality (zero-derivation, 0-D) – can go beyond this conceptual impasse; it can also serve as a fall-back position for positive ontologies. Practical implications: The practical result of 0-D is that all structures of experience are understood as tools serving individual and collective subjects. Conclusion: This conceptual correction results in a simplification for the understanding of some conceptual puzzles, such as the mind-brain relation, but also in a considerable increase of responsibility, because entities and agents formerly considered responsible, and outside the mind, are recognized to be extensions of the subjects.

Key words: Inversion of experience, 0-D constructivism, problem of metaphysics-ontology, mind-brain relation


Müller H. F. J. (2005) People, Tools, and Agency: Who Is the Kybernetes? Constructivist Foundations 1(1): 35–48. Available at http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/1/1/035.muller

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)


Chalmers D. J. (1995) The puzzle of conscious experience. Scientific American 273: 80–86. << Google Scholar

Crick F. (1994) The astonishing hypothesis. Scribner’s, New York. << Google Scholar

Damasio A. R. (1994) Descartes’ error. Emotion, reason, and the human brain. Quill, Harper Collins, New York: 245–252. << Google Scholar

Foerster H. von & Glasersfeld E. von (1999) Wie wir uns erfinden. Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag, Heidelberg. << Google Scholar

Glasersfeld E. von (2004) The constructivist approach: Toward a theory of representation. Karl Jaspers Forum TA73. http:// www.kjf.ca/kjf/73-TAGLA.htm. This is my translation, corrected by the author, of a lecture given by von Glasersfeld at the Université du Québec à Montréal on 21 November 1985, and published as : Glasersfeld E. von, (2004) L’approche constructiviste: vers une théorie des représentations. In: Jonnaert P. & Masciotra D. (eds.) Constructivisme, choix contemporains. Hommage à Ernst von Glasersfeld. Presses de l’Université du Québec: Sainte Foy: 213–224. << Google Scholar

Hameroff S. (2003) Heading in the wrong direction. Review of Cristof Koch’s “Quest for consciousness.” Science & Consciousness Review 2. http:// www.sci-con.org/articles/20041102.html << Google Scholar

Jaspers K. (1947) Von der Wahrheit. Piper: München, Zürich. << Google Scholar

Jaspers K. (1949) Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte. Fischer Bücherei, Frankfurt & Hamburg. Reprinted in 1955 by R. Piper & Co: München. English translation by M. Bullock: (1953) The origin and goal of History. Yale University Press, New Haven. << Google Scholar

Johnson D. K. (2004) The view from somewhere: A philosophical critique of radical constructivism. KJF Forum TA 75. http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/75-TAJOH.htm << Google Scholar

Koch C. (2004) Thinking about the conscious mind. A review of Mind –An introduction by John Searle. Science 306: 979–980 << Google Scholar

Lakoff G. & Núñez R. E. (2000) Where mathematics comes from. How the embodied mind brings mathematics into being. Basic Books, New York. << Google Scholar

Müller H. F. J. (1997) Is the mind real? Karl Jaspers Forum TA1. http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/1-TA12.htm << Google Scholar

Müller H. F. J. (2000) Concept-dynamics and the mind-brain question. Karl Jaspers Forum TA32. http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/32-TAMUL.htm << Google Scholar

Müller H. F. J. (2001) Brain in mind. Karl Jaspers Forum TA45. http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/45-TAMUL.htm << Google Scholar

Müller H. F. J. (2003) Effect of working ontology on some conceptual Puzzles. Karl Jaspers Forum TA57. http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/ 57-TAMUL.htm << Google Scholar

McCarthy J. (2004) What is artificial intelligence? http://www-formal.stanford.edu/ jmc/whatisai/whatisai.html << Google Scholar

Metzinger T. (2003) Phenomenal transparency and cognitive self-reference. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2: 353–393. Reprinted in: (2004) Karl Jaspers Forum TA67, http://www.kjf.ca/kjf/67-TAMET.htm << Google Scholar

Reiner H. (1954) Die Entstehung und ursprüngliche Bedeutung des Namens Metaphysik. Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 8: 210–237. English translation: (1990) The emergence and original meaning of the name “metaphysics.” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 13: 23–53. << Google Scholar

Rilke R. M. (1936) Das Stundenbuch. Insel-Verlag: Leipzig. [These poems were written in 3 volumes, from 1899 to 1903. The first volume, from which the quoted poem is taken, has the title “Vom moenchischen Leben”. The poems were dedicated to Lou Salomé.] << Google Scholar

Rilke R. M. (1949) Die Achte Duineser Elegie (7–8 February 1922) Insel-Verlag: Reutlingen. German: http://www.phil-fak.uni-duesseldorf.de/germ/germ4/gedichte/riduin08.htm – English translation by Alison Croggon: http://www.thedrunkenboat.com/rilke.html – English translation by Robert Hunter: http://www.dead.net/RobertHunterArchive/files/Poetry/Elegies/elegy8.html << Google Scholar

Rioux-Soucy L.-M. (2004) Mon voisin est un cyborg. Le Devoir (Montréal), 5 Nov 2004. << Google Scholar

Searle J. R. (2004) Mind: A brief introduction. Oxford University Press, New York. << Google Scholar

Strawson G. (2004) A fallacy of our age. Not every life is a narrative. Times Literary Supplement, 15 October 2004, p. 13. << Google Scholar

Wiener N. (1954) The human use of human beings. Second Edition Revised. Doubleday Anchor Books, Garden City. << Google Scholar

Wright R. (2004) Fool’s paradise. Easter Island’s unlearned lesson. Times Literary Supplement, 19 November 2004, p. 16. << Google Scholar