Asaro P. (2007) Heinz von Foerster and the bio-computing movements of the 1960s. In: Müller A. & Müller K. H. (eds.) An unfinished revolution? Heinz von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory, BCL, 1959–1976. Edition Echoraum, Vienna: 253–275. https://cepa.info/6625
Excerpt: As I read the cybernetic literature, I became intrigued that as an approach to the mind which was often described as a predecessor to AI, cybernetics had a much more sophisticated approach to mind than its purported successor. I was soon led to Prof. Herbert Brün’s seminar in experimental composition, and to the archives of the Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) in the basement of the University of Illinois library. Since then, I have been trying to come to terms with what it was that was so special about the BCL, what allowed it to produce such interesting ideas and projects which seem alien and exotic in comparison to what mainstream AI and Cognitive Science produced in the same era. And yet, despite its appealing philosophical depth and technological novelty, it seems to have been largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream research in these areas. I believe that these are the same concerns that many of the authors of the recent issue of Cybernetics and Human Knowing (Brier & Glanville, 2003) express in regard to the legacy of von Foerster and the BCL. How could such an interesting place, full of interesting things and ideas have just disappeared and been largely forgotten, even in its own home town?
Baecker D. (1996) A note on composition. Systems Research 13(3): 195–204. https://cepa.info/2929
It is characteristic of Heinz von Foerster’s approach to the cybernetics of cybernetics that it combines a sense of tight reasoning with the acknowledgment of fundamental ignorance. The article attempts to uncover an epistemological relationship between the reasoning and the ignorance. The relationship is provided for by a razor which reads: what can be described in relation to its composition, is described in vain in relation to its substance. The razor asks for second-order terms instead of first-order terms, or for ontogenetics instead of ontology.
Bonnardel V. & Varela F. J. (1991) A frequency view of color vision: Measuring the human sensitivity to square-wave spectral power distributions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences 245(1314): 165–171. https://cepa.info/2073
We have measured the chromatic threshold sensitivity to stimuli with spectral composition determined by a periodic function of energy over wavelength. This approach is analogous to frequency studies of spatial vision for the study of colour. A device was constructed permitting the synthesis of illuminants over the entire visible range (400–700 nm) in which phase, frequency and amplitude can be independently controlled. We have used 12 frequencies of square-wave functions (from 0.5 to 3.6 cycles/300 nm) and seven values of phase (between 0 degrees and 180 degrees) to obtain the contrast sensitivity function of the chromatic system in three normal trichromats. The results show maximum sensitivity around 1.5 cycles/300 nm and a high-frequency cut-off at 3.6 cycles/300 nm. These empirical values are compared with the predictions obtained from three current psychophysical models of opponent-colour process.
Boxer P. J. & Cohen B. (2000) Doing time: The emergence of irreversibility. In: Chandler J. & Van de Vijver G. (eds.) Closure: Emergent organizations and their dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences, New York: 13–25.
By considering an enterprise to be a system of agents that observe and construct theories about themselves immediately raises issues of closure. These in turn pose questions about the identity and evolution of that which is exhibiting such closure. We address these questions by assigning enterprises to a class of systems whose models are triply articulated. The existential articulation provides an account of the possible behaviors of the enterprise’s agents and of their interoperation. The referential articulation specifies outcomes that its agents are required to satisfy. The deontic articulation imposes constraints on the composition of the other two articulations that are sufficient to ensure that the enterprise effectively implements its specified requirements. Any of these articulations may be under-determined in that they admit more than one elaboration. The behavioral closure of an enterprise is a kind of composition (formally, a category theoretic limit construction) of its three articulations. If the enterprise is its own observer, then the articulations are its models of itself. The enterprise has many opportunities for error in constructing this model. In particular, it may find that it cannot choose among its under-determined articulations in such a way that their composition is internally consistent. Such errors necessitate changes to its model, which may be denoted as steps in an irreversible trajectory through a space of such models. This approach seems to provide a conceptual bridge across the gulf between systems theory and psychoanalysis, and has provided valuable insights into strategy formulation within large enterprises.
Breuer R. (1984) Self-reflexivity in literature: The example of Samuel Beckett’s Novel trilogy. In: Watzlawick P. (ed.) The invented reality. Norton, New York: 145–168. https://cepa.info/7659
Excerpt: Taking as a point of departure the constructivist concept of self-referentiality, I will attempt to consider the problem of self-reflexivity, which has become so important in modern literature. In other words, I shall attempt to discuss the phenomenon of metaliterature, a literature that, above all, is concerned with itself, that reflects the conditions which make possible its own composition, that treats in general of the possibility of fictional speech, or that questions the basis of the fictional contract between the work and the reader. This attempt concurs with a suggestion in an essay by Heinz von Foerster , where, from the fact that there can be no objective perception as such, in other words, no objects without observers, the conclusion is drawn that we need, above all, a theory of the observer or the “describer.” Von Foerster continues that since only living organisms are possible candidates for observers, the construction of such a theory must be the task of the biologist. Since, however, the latter also is a living creature, he must not only take account of himself in his theory, but must also include the theory- building process itself in the theory. This is, in fact, the situation of many writers in the twentieth century who no longer desire to lustily tell stories but have found, just as scientists and philosophers in other fields have found, that their medium language, together with all the traditional processes of writing, has, after a period of optimism, become problematic. Thus they have found themselves forced to reflect on the process of writing itself.
Bunnell P. (2004) Foreword: Maturana Revisited. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 11(2): 5–11. https://cepa.info/3249
Four of the papers in this issue belong with a set, still in progress, of papers devoted to the implications of the work of Humberto Maturana. Imoto reviews the philosophical nature of Maturana’s work and concludes that Maturana has provided a renewed view of objectivity based on our human biology of cognition. Russell and Ison, as well as Bilson consider the implications of assuming a constitutive ontology in two different domains of praxis, namely in stakeholder involved research, and in addressing the vexed issue of power in social service programs, respectively. Bond addresses the concerns of a runaway technology, and offers a reconciliation between technology and art, suggesting an escape from the demands of technology through generating and participating in networks of conversations as works of art, in what I see as an aesthetic composition of a world to live forth.
Dunbar-Hester C. (2001) Listening to cybernetics: Music, machines, and nervous systems, 1950–1980. Science Technology Human Values 35(1): 113–139. https://cepa.info/2931
Scholars have explored the influence of the field of cybernetics on scientific thought and disciplines. However, from the inception of the field, “cyberneticians” had explicitly envisioned applications reaching beyond the purview of scientific disciplines; cybernetics was remarkable for its portability and potential application in a wide variety of contexts. This article explores connections between cybernetics and experimental music from 1950–1980, which was a period of experimentation with electronic techniques in recording, composition, and sound production and manipulation. Examples include musicians, engineers, instrument builders, composers, and scientists in collaboration with musicians who invoked cybernetic themes in their work. These uses of cybernetics were more diverse than accounts of cybernetics within the sciences suggest, presenting a major difficulty in addressing cybernetics as a homogeneous or monolithic discourse. In particular, cybernetic discourse in music often exhibited themes of openness and indeterminacy, rather than the “command and control” of the “closed world. "
Excerpt: The phenomenological notion of constitution as involving a passive temporal synthesis, and specifically this concept as used by Husserl in his analysis of consciousness and intentionality, has a different meaning from the use of the term in analytic metaphysics (Fine 2003; Shoemaker 2003; Wiggins 1968) where the question of identity is at stake, or in the new mechanist analysis (e.g., Craver 2007; Craver and Bechtel 2007; Gillett 2013) where composition is of concern. Moreover, precisely how these different discussions may be related is not clear. As Dan Zahavi puts it, “the metaphysical implications of [Husserl’s] concept of constitution are left in the dark” (2003, 42). Discussions of constitution in the new mechanist literature and phenomenology, however, do share a concern with questions about cognition, consciousness and the origins of meaning as it arises in relations between mind and world. Furthermore, both phenomenological and new mechanist discussions make a sharp distinction between constitution and causality. To postulate a constitutional relation, in the phenomenological case, as Zahavi indicates, “is not to postulate a causal connection …. On the contrary, the conditioning in question is exactly of a noncausal kind” (2003, 72). This also holds for orthodox versions of new mechanist analysis. In the latter case, however, one reason for excluding causality from constitution is that constitution is taken to be a synchronic or contemporaneous relation whereas causality requires diachronicity. In contrast, the phenomenological concept of constitution involves an intrinsic diachronicity. Some versions of embodied cognition, including enactivist and extended mind approaches, putatively require a diachronic conception of constitution that includes reciprocal causal relations in order to match the dynamical and holistic conception of cognition that they defend. This notion of constitution needs to be made clear for purposes of responding to a strong critique of enactivist and extended mind approaches drawn from analytic philosophy of mind – the accusation of a causal coupling-constitution (C–C) fallacy (Adams and Aizawa 2008; Aizawa 2010). One purportedly commits the C–C fallacy when one confuses the causal or enabling conditions of cognition with what constitutes cognition. To work out a diachronic–dynamical conception of constitution consistent with enactivist approaches to cognition and consciousness, which is not subject to the C–C fallacy, I will draw from Francisco Varela’s naturalized phenomenology and his account of multiple timescales (see Gallagher 2017a). From the new mechanist perspective, this turns out to be a non-orthodox conception of constitution. I will argue, however, that it’s a conception that still allows for some of the important insights developed in that perspective.
Gordon S. (2013) Psychoneurointracrinology: The embodied self. In: Gordon S. (ed.) Neurophenomenology and its applications to psychology. Springer, New York: 115–148.
This chapter introduces a psychoneurointracrine model of the embodied self and examines the interrelationship between psychological, neurological, and intracrinological processes forming a mind-brain continuum within the person. Psycho (psychological) refers to constructs variously referred to as psyche, self, soul, mind, and consciousness. Neuro (neurological) refers to the composition and reactions within the nervous system. Intracrine (intracrinological) refers to the intracellular biosynthesis of steroids, the binding of receptors, and the formation of enzymes that catalyze the creation of hormones within the cell. It is argued that self has neural correlates in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axes of the body, which are responsible for enactive engagement and the development of meaning through their connections to the higher-order functions of the brain. Two theories of enactive cognition explore this hypothesis: (1) the theory of psychoneurointracrine autopoiesis examines how the regulation of a steroid’s receptor is modulated by the person’s perception of experience, and (2) the theory of emergent global states explains how corticolimbic projections from the HPG-HPA axes integrate prereflective, autonomic, and subliminal experience in the development of meaning and emergence of self. This model depicts the growth-oriented dimension of the person or neurophenomenological self.
In this article, we address implications of constructivism for teaching writing to students with special needs. Specifically, whole language and process approaches to writing instruction, the two most popular composition programs based on the principles of constructivism, are examined. Benefits of these two programs include frequent and meaningful writing, creation of environmental conditions that support self-regulated learning, and emphasis on the integrative nature of learning in literacy development. These benefits may be weakened, however, by an overreliance on incidental learning and by a lack of emphasis on the mechanics of writing. Recommendations for whole language and process writing as well as traditional writing instruction are offered.