Publication 3223

Poerksen B. (2003) At each and every moment, I can decide who I am Heinz von Foerster on the observer, dialogic life, and a constructivist philosophy of distinctions. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 10(3–4): 9–26.
Heinz von Foerster (1911–2002) is held to be the ‘Socrates of cybernetics. ’ Having studied physics in Vienna, he worked in various research laboratories in Germany and Austria, and after World War II also briefly as a journalist and as a consultant to a telephone company. At the same time, he wrote his first book, Memory. A quantum-mechanical investigation. (Publ. Vienna 1948) His theory of memory caught the attention of the founding figures of American cybernetics. They invited him, he immigrated to the USA in 1949. There, he was received into a circle of scientists that began to meet in the early fifties under the auspices of the Macy Foundation. He was made editor of the annual conference proceedings. The mathematician Norbert Wiener whose book Cybernetics had just been published, John von Neumann, the inventor of the computer, the anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, the neuropsychiatrist Warren S. McCulloch, together with more than a dozen other intellectual enthusiasts, formed the group essentially contributing to the so-called Macy Conferences.
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