Publication 2939

Rawes P. (2007) Second-order cybernetics, architectural drawing and monadic thinking. Kybernetes 36(9/10): 1486–1496. Fulltext at
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine shared principles of “irreducibility” or “undecidability” in second-order cybernetics, architectural design processes and Leibniz’s geometric philosophy. It argues that each discipline constructs relationships, particularly spatio-temporal relationships, according to these terms. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is organized into two parts and uses architectural criticism and philosophical analysis. The first part examines how second-order cybernetics and post-structuralist architectural design processes share these principles. Drawing from von Foerster’s theory of the “observing observer” it analyses the self-reflexive and self-referential modes of production that construct a collaborative architectural design project. Part two examines the terms in relation to Leibniz’s account of the “Monad”. Briefly, developing the discussion through Kant’s theory of aesthetics, it shows that Leibniz provides a “prototype” of undecidable spatial relations that are also present in architectural design and second-order cybernetics. Findings: The paper demonstrates that second-order cybernetics, architectural design and metaphysical philosophy enable interdisciplinary understandings of “undecidability”. Practical implications: The paper seeks to improve understanding of the geometric processes that construct architectural design. Originality/value – The paper explores interdisciplinary connections between the disciplines, opening up potential routes for further examination Its analysis of the aesthetic and geometric value of the Monad (rather than its perspectival value) provides a particularly relevant link for discussing the aesthetic production and experience of spatial relations in second-order cybernetics and contemporary architectural design.

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