Publication 1655

Foerster H. von (1972) Notes on an epistemology for living things. BCL Report No. 9.3 (BCL Fiche No. 104/1). Biological Computer Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/1655
Excerpt: In contradistinction to the classical problem of scientific inquiry that postulates first a descr.iption-invariant “objective world” (as if there were such a thing) and then attempts to write its description, here we are challenged to develop a description-invariant “subjective world,” that is a world which includes the observer. This is the problem. However, in accord with the classic tradition of scientific inquiry which perpetually asks “How?” rather than”What?,” this task calls for an epistemology nf “How do we know?” rather than “What do we know?” The following notes on an epistemology cf living things address themselves to the “How?” They may serve as a magnifying glass through which this problem becomes better visible.
Reprinted in Foerster H. von (1981) Observing systems. Intersystems, Salinas CA: 258–271.

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