Publication 2468

Herr C. M. (2015) The big picture: Connecting design, second order cybernetics and radical constructivism. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 22(2–3): 107–114. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2468
This paper discusses the close relationships between design, second order cybernetics and radical constructivism that Ranulph Glanville has identified in his writings over the past decade. In linking these three fields, Glanville has established an overarching picture that shows how action, ethics and epistemology are related in a mutually complementing manner. While Glanville does not explicitly link all three fields in one dedicated paper, he elucidates one of these relationships each in three of his writings. In ‘Radical Constructivism = Second-order Cybernetics’ (2012) Glanville asserts that second-order cybernetics and radical constructivism are ‘opposite sides of the same coin. ’ Glanville lists seven core concepts of radical constructivism as stated by Ernst von Glasersfeld, and relates them to second-order cybernetic concepts. ‘Construction and Design’ (2006) shows how design is a necessarily constructivist activity-both in terms of the design of concepts and the design of objects and processes. In ‘Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better: The Cybernetics in Design and the Design in Cybernetics’ (2007), Glanville presents second-order cybernetics as a theory for design, and characterizes design as cybernetics in practice. Drawing primarily upon these three papers, I construct a condensed version of Glanville’s big picture. The value of the connections made lies in showing the role of each field in relation to the others, which both informs and affects each of the three fields thus connected.

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