[pcp-discuss:] New Paper: Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics

From: Francis Heylighen (fheyligh@vub.ac.be)
Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 16:06:50 GMT

  • Next message: Gavin Ritz: "Re: [pcp-discuss:] New Paper: Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics"

    As I announced some time ago, I was invited to write a review paper
    on cybernetics for the Encyclopedia of Physical Science & Technology
    (3rd ed.), (Academic Press). The final version of the paper is now
    ready, and available at

    Although it is obviously very difficult to summarize all the main
    ideas of cybernetics in a single paper without remaining very
    superficial, I think my co-author Cliff Joslyn and I have managed to
    do a quite decent job, and I would recommend the paper to anybody who
    wants to get an introduction to and overview of the main concepts
    (e.g. variety, feedback, closure, control, constructivism, ...) and
    principles (e.g. law of requisite variety, requisite hierarchy,
    self-organization, ...) of cybernetics.

    Where possible, the ideas have been made explicit using simple
    formulas and diagrams. Since this is meant for a "hard science"
    encyclopedia, we have focused more on the "hard" ideas, and less on
    the philosophical, social and psychological implications, although
    these are implicit throughout the article.

    We thank Val Turchin and Ranulph Glanville for reviewing the
    manuscript and suggesting improvements. Although the Encyclopedia
    requested us to write the paper in an "authoritative" manner, as if
    we were expressing the general consensus in the field, it is obvious
    that such a consensus does not really exist, and therefore the paper
    should be read as our own view on cybernetics. Still, I think we have
    managed to include most of the ideas that cyberneticians generally
    agree upon, although other authors might have liked to put the
    emphasis differently.

    Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics

    Francis Heylighen
    Free University of Brussels

    Cliff Joslyn
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    I.Historical Development of Cybernetics
    I.2.Second Order Cybernetics
    I.3.Cybernetics Today

    II.Relational Concepts
    II.1.Distinctions and Relations
    II.2.Variety and Constraint
    II.3.Entropy and Information
    II.4.Modelling Dynamics

    III.Circular Processes
    III.4.Feedback Cycles

    IV.Goal-Directedness and Control
    IV.2.Mechanisms of Control
    IV.3.The Law of Requisite Variety
    IV.4.Components of a Control System
    IV.5.Control Hierarchies

    V.1.Requisite Knowledge
    V.2.The Modelling Relation
    V.3.Learning and Model-Building
    V.4.Constructivist Epistemology



    _________________________________________________________________________ Dr. Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be> -- Center "Leo Apostel" Free University of Brussels, Krijgskundestr. 33, 1160 Brussels, Belgium tel +32-2-6442677; fax +32-2-6440744; http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html ======================================== Posting to pcp-discuss@lanl.gov from Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be>

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Feb 23 2001 - 17:08:31 GMT