Tag: cybernetics

There’s an interesting section in Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain discussing Ross Ashby’s experiments in building cybernetic systems and the design philosophy these undertakings led him to articulate. As Pickering describes on pg 128: If, beyond a certain degree of complexity, the performance of a machine could not be predicted from a knowledge of its […]

There’s an interesting aside in Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain on pg 98 which has left me thinking about why I’m so interested in distraction: Here he tied his essay into a venerable tradition in psychiatry going back at least to the early twentieth century, namely, that madness and mental illness pointed to a failure to […]

This section of Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain just reawakened my interest in psychedelic drugs and their effects upon consciousness. From pg 73: Walter’s 1953 book The Living Brain is largely devoted to the science of the normal brain and its pathologies, epilepsy and mental illness. But in different passages it also goes beyond the […]

Another theme which feels important to me in Pickering’s superb The Cybernetic Brain is the ontological gap between entities and interaction. If we imagine the world as composed of discrete entities with defined characteristics, it invites an approach to knowledge in which we merely place them into a taxonomy in a manner which leaves them in […]

It’s difficult to read Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain and not be swept up in his infectious enthusiasm for the British cyberneticians. They were the fun wing of an approach which “emerged from nowhere as far as established fields and career paths were concerned” with the “cyberneticians and their projects were outsiders to established fields […]

This is a term which Andrew Pickering uses on pg 10 of the Cybernetic Brain to describe the conference series and dining club around which cybernetics coalesced, as organisationally loose and somewhat self-selecting gatherings substituted for the secure institutional base which the majority of participants lacked. Scholarly centres of gravity are what bring people together […]

This is a wonderful section from pg 9 of Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain: Unlike more familiar sciences such as physics, which remain tied to specific academic departments and scholarly modes of transmission, cybernetics is better seen as a form of life , a way of going on in the world, even an attitude, that […]

Earlier today I visited the Stafford Beer archive at Liverpool John Moores University. I had been curious about it for some time after talking to Mark Johnson who has been exploring the archive for a number of years. For those unfamiliar with him, I should start by pointing out how Beer was a fascinating and […]

I’ve recently been reading Magoroh Maruyama’s writing on the second cybernetics and I’m quite taken with it. There’s a context to his work which I only dimly understand, given my lack of grounding in the first cybernetics, though I’m still finding his writing extremely thought-provoking. One of the key themes seems to be the critique of an exclusive […]

One unexpected aspect of the Reflexive Imperative was Archer’s return to cybernetics in its conclusion. Though having long seen herself as a critic of this theoretical tradition, the systems theory of Walter Buckley was an important influence on the Morphogenetic Approach. In the Reflexive Imperative she critically engages with the ‘second cybernetics’ of Magorah Maruyama […]