Van de Vijver G. (1992) The experimental epistemology of Walter S. McCulloch: A minimalistic interpretation. In: Van de Vijver G. (ed.) New Perspectives on cybernetics: Self-organization, autonomy and connectionism. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 105–123. https://cepa.info/2740
When cybernetics entered the scene during the forties, high ambitions immediately arose and quite unusual claims were made as compared to those of traditional epistemology: cybernetics would do away with the distinction between ’mind’ and ’body’ (Papert, 1965); it would bring a new interpretation, through the artefact, of the Kantian synthetic a priori; cybernetics would give, following Turing’s approach of computability, a mechanistic sense to Kantian schematism (Dupuy, 1985, pp. 105–106). In this text we shall analyse the statute of that sort of claims. In other words, we shall show what is the relation between epistemological questions which we call classical or theoretical and those occurring within cybernetics, and more in particular in the work of McCulloch. McCulloch was clearly an advocate of experimental epistemology. He emphasized, in contrast with Kant for instance, that the experimental inquiry into the functioning, the emergence and the consequences of knowledge can be important for epistemology in general. Furthermore, we shall inquire how McCulloch’s experimental epistemology may be relevant to classical epistemology. Firstly, we shall discuss the position of McCulloch within cybernetics. Secondly, we shall deal with the meaning of his net of formal neurons and with the meaning of the heterarchic nets. This will allow finally us to illustrate in what sense McCulloch is to be situated outside first cybernetics and how he anticipates second order cybernetics. It will also allow us to show that the experimental epistemology which he defends can get an interpretation beyond the frame of a traditional reductionism. What we are proposing here is a minimalistic interpretation: the epistemology, insofar as it tends to be experimental, doesn’t have to serve as a support for reductionism, but rather aims at pointing out concrete limits within which a theoretical epistemology can be developed.
Van de Vijver G. (1997) Who is galloping at a narrow path. Conversation with Heinz von Foerster. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 4(3): 3–15.
Van de Vijver G. (1998) Internalism versus externalism: A matter of choice. In: Augowski W. & Matsuno K. (eds.) Uroboros or biology between mythology and philosophy. Wydawnictwo, Poland: 295–306. https://cepa.info/5343
Excerpt: I aim at understanding what it is for psychic systems, qua living systems, to realize the sign-function, and what it is for them to genuinely recognize that something stands for something else. Are their various ways of psychically realizing and/or recognizing the sign-function? What are the developmental and systemic or structural conditions leading to those capacities? Moreover, I want to understand the relationship between realizing and recognizing the sign-function for psychic systems. Is the recognizing a precondition for the realizing or is it the other way around?
Van de Vijver G. (2000) Identification and psychic closure a dynamic structuralist approach of the psyche. In: Chandler J. & Van de Vijver G. (eds.) Closure: Emergent organizations and their dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences, New York: 1–13. https://cepa.info/4885
In this paper, the emergence of psychic structures is conceived within a dynamic structuralist framework, developed in dialogue with the semiotic and dynamic viewpoint on levels from evolutionary systems theory. If psychic structures emerge, it is because they are particular kinds of organizationally closed systems that interpret the variety from below (the biological level) for the level above (the social level). the mechanism of psychic closure is presented as the key mechanism for the constitution of psychic structures, and is interpreted in terms of identification: an identificatory judgment is a self‐referential, closing judgment that involves a reinterpretation of the level below (the organic body) and is addressed to the level above (the fellow human being). The way in which identification has worked determines the kinds of psychic structures that are formed and also leads to different kinds of signifying practices. Different types of identification are discussed and a brief presentation of clinical arguments serves to illustrate the determinative role of identification in the formation of psychic structures.
Van de Vijver G., Van Bunder D., Knockaert V., Bazan A. & Geerardyn F. (2002) The role of closure in a dynamic structuralist viewpoint of psychic systems. Evolution and Cognition 8(2): 262–271. https://cepa.info/4260
In this paper, the emergence of psychic structures is conceived of within a dynamic structuralist framework, which is developed in dialogue with the biological viewpoint on the emergence and the maintenance of living structures (Collier/Hooker 1999; Salthe 1985; Van de Vijver/Salthe/Delpos 1998). More in particular, it is suggested (i) to consider organizational closure as a minimal condition to be fulfilled in order for dynamic systems to be stable, self-maintaining and self-producing, (ii) to conceive of living systems in terms of intricate organizational closures that set the stage for meaningful interactions (Kauffman 1993; Maturana/Varela 1980; Pattee 1995; Rosen 1985, 1991; Varela 1979) and (iii) to situate the psychological realm in continuity with this viewpoint. In analogy with the organizational closure of living systems, the mechanism of psychic closure is presented as the key mechanism for the constitution of psychic structures, and is interpreted in terms of identification: an identificatory judgment is a self-referential, closing judgment that involves a reinterpretation of the level below (the organic body) and is addressed to the level above (the fellow human being). The way in which identification has worked determines the kinds of psychic structures that are formed, it leads to different kinds of signifying practices, as well as to different ways of taking into account the underlying biological and material processes.