Reframing Society’s View of Self, and Responsibility, and Science
The following ABSTRACT is associated with the following two traditions of Cybernectis (as listed on the website):
Experimental epistemology, constructivism, philosophy of science; Foerster, Glanville, Glasersfeld, Kauffman, McCulloch, Umpleby, Whitaker
Education and conversation: Lewin, Martin, Pask, Scott
This paper draws together threads from cybernetics, radical constructivism, and the biology of cognition to show that:
1. How we view knowing is a key understanding that can contribute to how teachers view and practice teaching and, through example and design, how learners understand and teach one another.
2. How we view ourselves as state-determined entities can contribute to understanding the need for individual responsibility for individual action and for both individual and collective responsibility for the design of environments that influence individual responsibility, including and especially teaching/learning environments.
Language is circular in at least two ways:
1. An explanation is a description of what is explained in another domain (von Foerster). Another way of saying this: All explanations are metaphorical, that is, one experience is partially mediated by other experience (Lakoff and Johnson). As opposed to a truth-based understanding of the world, a metaphor-based understanding of the world is circular.
2. Every word is defined by other words that in turn are defined by the original word. In other words, all definitions are circular.
Given that explanations, language, and experience are circular, the universe will appear as circular in our perceptions/understandings.
In a truth-based, object-based view of the world, truth is objective and privileged. In a view of the world where knowing is based on experience and language, truth is based on experience and on trust (Maturana and von Foerster).
While putting aside the concept of a truth-based, object-based world may seem to many to be a threat to stability, responsibility, and ethical behavior, I believe that the concept of a world based on the circularity of language and of experience is a better fit to the tasks of caring for self, others, and the planet.
- 3) Experimental epistemology; constructivism; philosophy of science
- 5) Education and conversation