Ray Ison’s Paper Proposal

Cybersystemics, institutional complexity and human co-evolution

This abstract applies to traditions 3, 4 and 5, namely Experimental epistemology, constructivism, philosophy of science; Management; and
Education and conversation.

Living in cybernetics (understood as cybersystemics) can really only be claimed when feedback processes operate within the social domain and between the social and biophysical (understood as the maintenance of structural coupling of two systems – a human social system and the biophysical world – in a co-evolutionary dynamic). In both of these situations absence of conversation (a turning together) undermines any claim to be living in cybernetics, though what is taken as conversation may differ in the two domains. This paper offers a contribution to a broader ‘systemic inquiry’ into the question of what cybersystemic thinking and practice might have to contribute to the challenge of governing the Anthropocene. It does so by examining the institutional complexity associated with cybersystemic organisations currently functioning i.e., those organisations that name themselves as concerned with cybernetics and/or systems. In the research institutions are understood as the norms and rules, formal and informal, which humans invent; organisations are understood as particular institutional forms that contain within them a myriad of other institutions.

The scoping research reported sets out to map, using systems mapping procedures, the institutional (including organisational) complexity within the cybersystemic academic and professional fields. Questions of boundary judgments are expected and will be addressed in a preliminary way. The constituencies of the cybersystemic organisations (and their institutional configurations) are explored and preliminary assessments made about the quality and extent of a global cybersystemic conversation i.e., about the quality of our living in cybernetics. Institutional constraints and possibilities for living in cybernetics in the two domains outlined are reported.

Cybernetic traditions:

  • 3) Experimental epistemology; constructivism; philosophy of science
  • 4) Management

1 thought on “Ray Ison’s Paper Proposal

  1. Ranulph Glanville

    I am very interested in the difference between the ways we use the word “living”. I think your view is far more to do with the world out there (and I am not arguing against this). For me, living in is a way of being, an ontological position (there’s something I won’t often say!) that is about acting rather than just thinking. Acting usually involves others (even myself as my own other), and certainly, in my view, conversation—which I view as the essential way we communicate.

    For me, Living in Cybernetics is a matter of allowing cybernetics and cybernetic understandings to suffuse everything I do, to effect a change in me and in my relationship with the world not be commanding from the top down, but by gently flooding from the bottom up. Or, better still (like the whirling dervishes) bringing both together. I change my behaviour and my culture, I act cybernetic ally, and my cybernetics is made visible through this behaviour.

    I think we approach a common ground, but from different initial positions. I’m thankful for Garry Boyd naming this common ground “cybersystemics”. I think you come from systemics and I come from cybernetics and it is really helpful to see the differences in approach as well as the coming together in this theme.


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