Publication 6256

Agrawalla R. K. (2015) When Newton meets Heinz Von Foerster, complexity vanishes and simplicity reveals. Kybemetes 44(8/9): 1193–1206. Fulltext at
Purpose: Complexity is the real beast that baffles everybody. Though there are increasing inter-disciplinary discussions on it, yet it is scantly explored. The purpose of this paper is to bring a new and unique dimension to the discourse assimilating the important ideas of two towering scientists of their time, Newton and Heinz von Foerster. In the tradition of Foersterian second-order cybernetics the paper attempts to build a bridge from a cause-effect thinking to a thinking oriented towards “understanding understanding” and in the process presents a model of “Cybernetics of Simplification” indicating a path to simplicity from complexity. Design/methodology/approach – The design of research in the paper is exploratory and the paper takes a multidisciplinary approach. The model presented in the paper builds on analytics and systemics at the same time. Findings: Simplicity can be seen in complex systems or situations if one can construct the reality (be that the current one that is being experienced or perceived or the future one that is being desired or envisaged) through the Cybernetics of Simplification model, establishing the effect-cause-and-effect and simultaneously following the frame of iterate and infer as a circular feedback loop; in the tradition of cybernetics of cybernetics. Research limitations/implications – It is yet to be applied. Practical implications: The model in the paper seems to have far reaching implications for complex problem solving and enhancing understanding of complex situations and systems. Social implications – The paper has potential to provoke new ideas and new thinking among scholars of complexity. Originality/value – The paper presents an original idea in terms of Cybernetics of Simplification building on the cybernetics of the self-observing system. The value lies in the unique perspective that it brings to the cybernetics discussions on complexity and simplification.

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