Semiotics has itself thrived in a generative atmosphere of specialization and synthesis. Now, in an expanding intellectual universe, we converge with several other strains of scholarship. In this brief paper, we not only acknowledge this convergence and complementarity, but actively welcome the emerging rapprochement, which we interpret as representing a radical shift in scientific paradigm. This conceptual revolution transcends a dichotomous Cartesian, analytic view of the world, in the direction of a view embracing the whole, respecting complexity, and fostering synthesis.
In the following text I propose a certain view of historiography of philosophy. My starting point will be the analysis of Richard Rorty regarding the historiography of philosophy. The first part will discuss Rorty’s text and the differences between various ways of approaching the history of philosophy. Rorty’s text is important because it reveals a lack of unitary vision when we are speaking about the best way in which we can write history of philosophy. This lack of unity implies that there are different frames of thinking historiography so we are entitled to say that the clashes between visions constitutes a whole new area of inquiry which we can call “the philosophy of historiography.” The following step is to distinguish the philosophy of historiography from the philosophy of history. We will see then, that one of the most important questions of philosophy of historiography is: what is philosophy? Before we start writing the history of philosophy, we should ask ourselves what is our view about the nature of philosophy. Following the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, my view is that philosophy is essentially “the art of creating concepts.” Viewing the philosophy in this way implies that the history of philosophy is a history of concepts. Since the concepts are constructed entities, and not discovered things, it follows that viewing the history of philosophy in this way, forces us to adopt a constructivist approach.
Apostel L. (1977) Le rôle du sujet dans la connaissance. With a response by Jean Piaget. In: Inhelder B., Garcia R. & Voneche J. (eds.) Epistémologie génétique et équilibration. Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel: 61–66. https://cepa.info/4252
Asaro P. (2008) From mechanisms of adaptation to intelligence amplifiers: the philosophy of W. Ross Ashby. In: Husbands P., Holland O. & Wheeler M. (eds.) The mechanical mind in history. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 149–184. https://cepa.info/2329
This chapter sketches an intellectual portrait of W. Ross Ashby’s thought from his earliest work on the mechanisms of intelligence in 1940 through the birth of what is now called artificial intelligence (AI), around 1956, and to the end of his career in 1972. It begins by examining his earliest published works on adaptation and equilibrium, and the conceptual structure of his notions of the mechanisms of control in biological systems. In particular, it assesses his conceptions of mechanism, equilibrium, stability, and the role of breakdown in achieving equilibrium. It then proceeds to his work on refining the concept of “intelligence,” on the possibility of the mechanical augmentation and amplification of human intelligence, and on how machines might be built that surpass human understanding in their capabilities. Finally, the chapter considers the significance of his philosophy and its role in cybernetic thought.
The paper is a reading of Martin Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Even) by means of Ranulph Glanville’s notions of black box, cybernetic control and objects as well as by George Spencer-Brown’s notion of form and Fritz Heider’s notion of medium. In fact, as Heidegger was among those who emphasized systems thinking as the epitome of modern thinking, did in his lecture on Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom a most thorough reading of this thinking, and considered cybernetics the very fulfilment of modern science it is interesting to know whether second-order cybernetics, as it was not known to Heidegger and as it delves into an understanding of inevitable complexity and foundational ignorance, falls within that verdict mere modernity or goes beyond it. If modern science in its rational understanding considers its subjects to be objects sitting still while being observed, then indeed second-order cybernetics is different. It looks into the observer’s interactions with black boxes, radically uncertain of where to expect operations of a self, but certain that we cannot restrict it to human consciousness.
Baggs E. (2018) A Psychology of the In Between? Review of Sensorimotor Life: An Enactive Proposal by Ezequiel Di Paolo, Thomas Buhrmann, and Xabier Barandiaran. Constructivist Foundations 13(3): 395–397. https://cepa.info/5311
Upshot: The authors offer a theory of agency that is general enough to apply to whole organisms and single cells, and meaningful enough to highlight problems that embodied cognition theory has overlooked. The authors insist that the interesting thing about minds is what goes on in between activities; this leaves unclear what a specifically enactivist empirical program could look like. But the book can be read as a contribution to a broader project of instituting a full-blown post-cognitivist science of the mind.
Balsemão Pires E. (2010) Polycontextural ontology and Luhmann’s concept of world. In: Balsemão Pires E., Nonnenmacher B. & Stülpnagel S. (eds.) Relations of the self. Coimbra University Press, Coimbra: 35–55. https://cepa.info/4566
This paper is a discussion of the sustainability of a concept of “world” compatible with the “operative constructivism” and the operative conception of observation of systems theory of according to Niklas Luhmann. The paper scrutinizes the concepts of observation of H. von Foerster, H. Maturana, G. Günther and N. Luhmann, providing the general framework of “operative constructivism.” Particularly, the paper will focus on N. Luhmann’s understanding of the role of observation in the constitution of the self-reference of the social systems of the modern society. The case of the “systems of art” will be briefly inspected. What place shall we concede to the idea of an “objective” world, according to the systems theory? Are systems “objective”? According to N. Luhmann, for the description of systems only operations are “objective.” However, an operation is not an entity, which means that we need to depict a new kind of “objects,” very different from the ’thing-objectivity” of the ancient metaphysics and different from the Cartesian concept of “res.” What does objectivity mean according to systems theory? This question was at stake in the formulation of N. Luhmann’s Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft: Society is “weder Subjekt noch Objekt.” This paper attempts to address this formula. Relevance: The paper deals with the epistemological explanation of second-order observations in social systems according to Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory. It clarifies the world vision of the constructivism movement.
Balsemão Pires E. (2018) Sequencialidade do sentido e formas cognitivas [Sequentiality of meaning and cognitive forms]. Independently published with Kindle, Amazon. https://cepa.info/4572
Is cognition limited to psychological representations and their linguistic counterparts? Is meaning restricted to propositional contents? “Sequentiality of Meaning and Cognitive Forms” challenges the traditional assumptions in the answers to these questions. It scrutinizes the systems that produce cognitive forms from their elements and the operations they realize. These systems are systems based on meaning. Meaning systems are psychic and social systems. For our purpose, the notion of meaning is restricted to the psychic and social concretions of the interpretative processing of signals. Knowledge is described across two paths: i) as a process resulting in a cognitive form, traditionally called representation, because it has been exemplified and scrutinized in psychic systems articulated through the elements of consciousness (representations); ii) according to operations with multiple instantiation, and therefore not limited to human consciousness or psychic representations. Relevance: The text addresses the core of the constructivism’s claim concerning the operative conditioning of knowledge construction. It explores the acquisition of self-reference in systems mobilising cognitive forms, such as communicative and psychic systems, in order to understand how cognition contributes to the modification or orientation of their elements.
The publication deals with the concept of self-reference across its multidisciplinary applications. The authors and themes scrutinized go from Plato and the Stoics to G. Günther and N. Luhmann; from paradoxes in Metamathematics to Artificial Intelligence.