Purpose: An attempt was made to establish a link between brief therapy a’ la MRI and Heinz von Foerster’s view of how we might conceive of and live in the world of our creation, at least in a social sense. Design/methodology/approach – The author relates how her encounter with Heinz von Foerster coincided with and further developed a way of thinking about and doing therapy which she found at the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California. She tries to show how Heinz the person has had a lasting effect on the way she conceives of and tries to conduct Brief Therapy a’ la MRI. Findings: She finds that using Heinz’s metaphor of dancing with the world quite useful in the elucidation of what therapy might be all about: how it might, metaphorically speaking, simply be about engaging a client or clients by dancing with them, allowing for the mutual creation of a new possibility. Originality/value – This paper was written to commemorate Heinz and for therapists in search of a therapeutic stance.
Purpose: Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent stability in a changing world. Design/methodology/approach – Describes von Foerster’s model for eigenforms and recursions and put this model in the context of mathematical recursions, fractals, set theory, logic, quantum mechanics, the lambda calculus of Church and Curry, and the categorical framework of fixed points of Lawvere. Findings: Determines that iterating an object upon itself is seen to be a key to understanding the nature of objects and the relationship of an observer and the apparent world of the observer. Originality/value – Contemplates the concept of recursion in the context of second-order cybernetics.
Purpose: This paper aims to examine Socratic dialogue in asynchronous online discussions in relation to constructivism. The links between theory and practice in teaching are to be discussed whilst tracing the origins of Socratic dialogue and recent trends and use of seminar in research based institutions. Design/methodology/approach – Many online degree courses employ asynchronous discussions where the teacher, acting as a moderator, is seen as the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage. Such an approach, employing collaborative learning, is often described as constructivist. Practitioners may see the term constructivist as simply a convenient label to describe a range of effective teaching practices. Even when it is said that knowledge is constructed, this may be viewed as little more than a metaphor. There are however, behind these labels, epistemological theories such as radical constructivism and social constructivism which pose serious challenges to traditional views that perception is guided by contact with an independent reality and that science involves a search for objective truth. Many significant philosophical objections can be raised against these theories. The links between the theory and teaching practices of proven value are tenuous. There is an alternative explanation of the origins of teaching practices associated with asynchronous discussions. Findings: Asynchronous discussion makes it possible for all students to make an initial written contribution based on both research and industry experience, as well as an extensive participation in a written debate. The relative ease of assessing contributions to a written debate helps overcome the problem of the seminar where only one person may get credit for his or her contribution. Contributions can to a great extent be made when it is convenient for both moderator and students. Research limitations/implications – The present study has considered the case of one institution; it will be useful to examine it for many. Practical implications: Asynchronous online discussion is one of the highest forms of Socratic dialogue. Originality/value – This is a different approach to the traditional belief and new ideas for consideration are presented. The Socratic dialogue has been developed as both an oral and written tradition from the works of authors like Plato, through to the development of the medieval university with its disputations and oral examinations, the introduction of seminars in research based universities inspired by Humboldt, the development of scholarly journals, and on to the asynchronous online discussions in the era of the Web.
Maturana H. R. (2005) The origin and conservation of self-consciousness: Reflections on four questions by Heinz von Foerster. In: Riegler A. (ed.) Heinz von Foerster – in memoriam. Kybernetes: The International Journal of Systems & Cybernetics 34(1–2): 54–88. https://cepa.info/702
Purpose: To reflect on the matter of self-consciousness. Design/methodology/approach – The purpose is achieved through the process of answering four questions presented to me by Heinz von Foerster in the course of our many conversations. Findings: It is not possible to understand the nature of self-consciousness without understanding the operation of human beings as living systems that exist as emotional languaging living systems: self-consciousness is a manner of living. Practical implications: We human beings can become more aware of our responsibility in the design of robots that imitate us. Originality/value – Reflects on what makes us humans special, on subjective experience, and on the world we bring forth.
Neubauer P. B. (2014) Towards terminology research as a practical philosophy of information: The terminology of radical constructivism as a case in point [Radical constructivism in the context of modern subject-object relations]. . https://cepa.info/8074
The thesis presents a perspective on the possibility of harnessing sociocognitive terminology and related practices to the aim of describing philosophical terminology. In this case, the terminology of the radical constructivist philosopher Ernst von Glasersfeld is surveyed as a starting point. The experimental terminological records produced are re-incorporated into the theoretical basis constituted by the thesis. Therefore, its aim can be seen as twofold; the description of philosophical terminology also entails theory construction. The practice described can be seen as regenerative theory construction. It incorporates elements of formulation and of codification/ language engineering in terms of contemporary computational possibilities. In terms of its theoretical basis, the project extends not only to the terminology used in the corpus texts but also to concepts and terms needed to understand these in the first place. The outlook can be described as heuristic and experimental. The approach breaks down to the following sub-problems. Each can be seen as characteristic for terminology description in the human sciences: (1) The idea of conceptual entities and concept description needs to be adjusted to the field of experience. This starts from sociocognitive terminology and incorporates the anthropological view of concept analysis. (2) The conceptual entity of stereotype has to be accounted for, as the variance of the descriptions of immaterial objects suggests that they can only be apprehended in a radically simplified manner. (3) The application of prototype theory employed as by sociocognitive theory and the Aristotelian concept theory of (post-)classical terminology research needs to be adapted to the description of ideal types. This is compressed into the concept of scientificity. (4) The principles developed need to be compressed into the conventional categories of principle and approach. These categories need to be set in relation to both philosophical concepts and experience. (5) This design of a possible practice needs to be adapted to existing procedures. The existing procedures may be in need of clarification or redefinition against the background of their usage in non-standard contexts. (6) To facilitate this mutual adaptation, peculiarities of the context of philosophical terminography are explored and compressed under the concept of disciplinarity. To this, there is a declarative aspect and a procedural one. (7) The procedural approach to disciplinarity develops an understanding of the intentional aspect of agenda and interest. These orient the development of potential consensus about disciplinarity within the constraints of context and therefore the apparent identity of (sub- (sub-))cultures inside the context. (8) Following these observations, the overall theoretical and methodological construct is tested against exemplary cases. To conclude, a practice for implementing these considerations is suggested. It includes the use of text fragments as units for textographic philosophical terminography and an understanding of computational information management practices appropriate to its principles.
Riegler A. (2015) Knowledge and Belief: Some Clarifications. Cybernetics & Systems 46(6–7): 484–509. https://cepa.info/1273
The notions of knowledge and belief play an important role in philosophy. Unfortunately, the literature is not very consistent about defining these notions. Is belief more fundamental than knowledge or the other way around? Many accounts rely on the widely accepted strategy of appealing to the intuition of the reader. Such an argumentative methodology is fundamentally flawed as it lets the problems of common sense reasoning in through the front door. Instead, I suggest that philosophical arguments should be based on formal-computational models to (a) reduce the ambiguities and uncertainties that come with intuitive arguments and reasoning, and (b) capture the dynamic nature of many philosophical concepts. I present a model of knowledge and belief that lends itself to being implemented on computers. Its purpose is to resolve terminological confusion in favor of a more transparent account. The position I defend is an anti-realist naturalized one: knowledge is best conceived as arising from experience, and is fundamental to belief.
Umpleby S. A. (2005) What I learned from Heinz von Foerster about the construction of science. Kybernetes 34(1/2): 278–294. https://cepa.info/2759
Purpose: To report on an empirical study in psycholinguistics that revealed a difference between European and American patterns of thinking and to provide a brief history of a 30-year effort to modify the philosophy of science in order to make it more suitable as a guide to doing research in the social sciences. Design/methodology/approach – Assesses the approach of Heinz von Foerster, who used a deductive approach to science rather than an American empirical approach Furthermore, von Foerster was willing to modify not only science but also the philosophy of science. By proposing that scientists pay attention to the observer as well as the observed, he added a dimension to the philosophy of science, which affects all disciplines. Findings: Proposes an additional dimension that might be added to the philosophy of science. Paying attention to both the observer and the receiving society suggests a communication metaphor rather than the photograph metaphor, which has prevailed in the philosophy of science. Examining the philosophical underpinnings of science rather than just testing or extending an existing theory is a type of inquiry that springs from von Foerster’s enthusiasm for tackling interesting problems unimpeded by disciplinary boundaries. Originality/value – An assessment of the contribution to the multidisciplinary approach to science of von Foerster.