Publication 2258

Foerster H. von (1984) Notes on an epistemology for living things. In: Foerster H. von (ed.) Observing systems. Second edition. Intersystems, Salinas CA. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2258
In contradistinction to the classical problem of scientific inquiry that postulates first a description-invariant “objective world” (as if there were such a thing) and then attempts to write its description, here we are challenged to develop a description-invariant “subjective world,” that is a world which includes the observer. This is the problem. However, in accord with the classic tradition of scientific inquiry which perpetually asks “How?” rather than “What?,” this task calls for an epistemology of “How do we know?” rather than “What do we know?” The following notes on an epistemology of living things address themselves to the “How?” They may serve as a magnifying glass through which this problem becomes better visible.
Originally published in 1972.

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