Volume 5 · Number 2 · Pages 86-91

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On the Importance of Being Emergent. Extended Review of “Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory” edited by Bruce Clark and Mark B. N. Hanson.Duke University Press, Durham, 2009.

Peter Cariani

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Upshot: Emergence and Embodiment is a highly worthwhile and well-crafted collection of essays on second-order cybernetics that draws together ideas related to self-organization, autopoiesis, organizational closure, self-reference, and neurophenomenology. Chapters include articles by Heinz von Foerster, Francesco Varela, Niklas Luhmann, George Spencer-Brown, and Evan Thompson and external commentaries on them that analyze the relevance of their ideas in the context of social and cultural theory. Despite some projective distortions to cybernetics that arise from the internal imperatives of culture criticism, the book contains many valuable insights and analyses of core ideas of cybernetics that significantly advance our understanding of them.


Cariani P. (2010) On the importance of being emergent. Extended review of “emergence and embodiment: New essays on second-order systems theory” edited by bruce clark and mark b. N. Hanson.Duke university press, durham, 2009.. Constructivist Foundations 5(2): 86-91. http://constructivist.info/5/2/086

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