New Cybernetics

New Cybernetics
See also New Cybernetics (Gordon Pask).

New Cybernetics is a study of self-organizing systems according to Peter Harries-Jones (1988), "looking beyond the issues of the "first", "old" or "original" cybernetics and their politics and sciences of control, to the autonomy and self-organization capabilities of complex systems".[1] New cybernetics is otherwise known as the cybernetics of cybernetics or second order cybernetics.[2][3][4], and second order cybernetics is called a new cybernetics.[5]



In the 1970s new cybernetics has emerged in multiple fields, first in biology. Some biologists influenced by cybernetic concepts from Maturana, Varela and Atlan, according to Dupuy (1986) "realized that the cybernetic metaphors of the program upon which molecular biology had been based rendered a conception of the autonomy of the living being impossible. Consequently, these thinkers were led to invent a new cybernetics, one more suited to the organizations which mankind discovers in nature - organizations he has not himself invented"[6]. It however remained a debate in the 1980s whether or not the new insides of new cybernetics could be projected on social forms of organization.[6]

In political science, Project Cybersyn attempted to introduce a cybernetically controlled economy during the early 1970s. In the 1980s, according to Harries-Jones (1988) "unlike its predecessor, the new cybernetics concerns itself with the interaction of autonomous political actors and subgroups, and the practical and reflexive consciousness of the subjects who produce and reproduce the structure of a political community. A dominant consideration is that of recursiveness, or self-reference of political action both with regards to the expression of political consciousness and with the ways in which systems build upon themselves".[1]

One characteristic of the emerging new cybernetics considered in that time by Geyer and van der Zouwen, according to Bailey (1994), was "that it views information as constructed and reconstructed by an individual interacting with the environment. This provides an epistemological foundation of science, by viewing it as observer-dependent. Another characteristic of the new cybernetics is its contribution towards bridging the "micro-macro gap". That is, it links the individual with the society.[7] Another characteristic noted was the "transition from classical cybernetics to the new cybernetics [that] involves a transition from classical problems to new problems. These shifts in thinking involve, among others, (a) a change from emphasis on the system being steered to the system doing the steering, and the factor which guides the steering decisions.; and (b) new emphasis on communication between several systems which are trying to steer each other"[7]. The work of Gregory Bateson was also strongly influenced by cybernetics.

See also


  1. ^ a b Peter Harries-Jones (1988), "The Self-Organizing Polity: An Epistemological Analysis of Political Life by Laurent Dobuzinskis" in: Canadian Journal of Political Science (Revue canadienne de science politique), Vol. 21, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 431–433.
  2. ^ Joseph Zeidner (1986), Human Productivity Enhancement, University of Michigan, p.173.
  3. ^ R.F. Geyer and G. v.d. Zouwen (1992), "Sociocybernetics", in: Cybernetics and Applied Systems, C.V. Negoita ed. p.96.
  4. ^ Anatol Rapoport eds.(1988), General Systems: Yearbook of the Society for the Advancement of General Vol 31, p.57.
  5. ^ Loet Leydesdorff (2001), Sociological Theory of Communication: The Self-Organization of the ...p.253.
  6. ^ a b Jean-Pierre Dupuy, "The autonomy of social reality: on the contribution of systems theory to the theory of society" in: Elias L. Khalil & Kenneth E. Boulding eds., Evolution, Order and Complexity, 1986.
  7. ^ a b Kenneth D. Bailey (1994), Sociology and the New Systems Theory: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis, p.163.

Further reading

External links

  • History of organizational events of the American Society of Cybenertics. In 1981 the title of the ASC conference was "The New Cybernetics", Oct. 29 – Nov. 1, GWU, Washington, DC (chair Larry Richards, local arrangements Stuart Umpleby).

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