Home

Mission

Contents

News

Links

Authors

About Us

Publications

Harmony Forum

Peace from Harmony
Bernard Scott: Sociocybernetics of harmony

Dr Bernard Scott,
UK
International Website "Peace from Harmony" Board Member
One of the GHA Founders. GHA Honorary Member.

 



Bernard Scott, Dr., Gordon Pask Professor of Sociocybernetics,
International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, Bonn,
http://www.sociocybernetics.eu/wp_sociocybernetics/ .

Home address: Lincolnshire, UK,

Website:http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255
In Russian: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=290 
 

Bio

 
Dr Bernard Scott, born May 16, 1945, is Head of the Flexible Learning Support Centre, Cranfield University, Defence Academy, Shrivenham. Previous appointments have been with: the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, De Montfort University, the Open University and Liverpool John Moores University. Dr Scotts research interests include: theories of learning and teaching, course design and organisational change and foundational issues in systems theory and cybernetics. He has published extensively o­n these topics. Dr Scott is a Fellow of the UK Cybernetics Society and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Dr Scott is President of Research Committee 51 (On Sociocybernetics) of the International Sociological Association. Now he is Gordon Pask Professor of Sociocybernetics, International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, Bonn. 
 
February 15, 2007
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bernard Scott

Dr Bernard Scott is Gordon Pask Professor of Sociocybernetics at the International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies. This is an honorary position. Previously he was Head of the Flexible Learning Support Centre, UK Defence Academy and former Reader in Cybernetics, Cranfield University, UK. He retired from these positions in August, 2009, and September, 2010, respectively and now works as an independent researcher and academic. Professor Scott graduated from Brunel University, UK, in 1968 with a first class honours degree in Psychology. He completed a Ph.D. in Cybernetics from the same university in 1976. His supervisor was Gordon Pask, with whom Dr Scott worked between 1967 and 1978. Together, they developed conversation theory and associated cybernetic models of learning and teaching, built interactive learning environments and carried out extensive empirical studies of how humans learn. Professor Scott is a Fellow and founder member of the U.K.s Cybernetics Society, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the American Society for Cybernetics and an Academician of the International Academy of Systems and Cybernetics Sciences. Professor Scott has been a board member of Research Committee o­n Sociocybernetics (RC51) of the International Sociological Association since 1996, serving as President 2006-2010. Professor Scott served as editor of the Journal of Sociocybernetics (2002-2006) and of the journal Interactive Learning Environments (2004-2008). He is a member of the editorial advisory boards of the journals Kybernetes, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, International Journal of Information and Learning Technology and Constructivist Foundations. Dr Scott has more than 130 academic publications to his credit.

 

Websites: http://www.sociocybernetics.eu/wp_sociocybernetics/people/ ,

http://www.iascys.org/

 

Selectedpublications

Wilson, C. and Scott , B. (2017)." Adaptive systems in education: a review and conceptual unification ", The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, 34, 1, 2 19.

Scott B. (2016) Cybernetic foundations for Psychology. Constructivist Foundations 11(3): 509517

Scott, B. (2015). Minds in chains: A sociocybernetic analysis of the Abrahamic faiths. Journal of Sociocybernetics, 13, 1

Scott, B, and Bansal, A. (2014). Learning about learning: a cybernetic model of skill acquisition, Kybernetes, 43, 9/10, 1399 1411.

Scott, B. (2014). Education for cybernetic enlightenment. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 21, 1-2, 199-205.

Scott, B. (2012). Using the logic of life to reduce the complexity of life, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 19, 3, 93-104.

Scott, B. (2011) Explorations in Second-Order Cybernetics. Reflections o­n Cybernetics, Psychology and Education. Wien, Edition Echoraum, 2011

Scott, B. (2010). The global conversation and the socio-biology of awareness and consciousness, J. of Sociocybernetics, 7, 2, pp. 21-33.

Scott, B. (2010). The Role of Higher Education in Understanding and Achieving Sustainable Development: Lessons from Sociocybernetics, J. of Sociocybernetics, 7, 1, pp. 9-26.

Scott, B. (2009). The role of sociocybernetics in understanding world futures. Kybernetes, 38, 6, pp. 867-882.


18-05-17
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some thought about Leo Semashkos concept of spherons

Dr. Bernard Scott

Gordon Pask Professor of Sociocybernetics,

International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies,

Bonn, Germany:

http://www.sociocybernetics.eu/wp_sociocybernetics/people/

 

Since I first became acquainted with Leo Semashkos tetrasociology (in 2002, when I wrote the editors introduction for his book Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges: http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_eng.pdf) his theorising has become more detailed and more complex. However, the underlying logic remains the same: it begins with the four spheres of social production of the young Karl Marx, still free from the class struggles political dogmas, and the autopoiesis (self-production) of Humberto Maturana. Semashkos spherons, by definition, reproduce the human social world (see his primer o­n global peace science at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423 ). Their harmonious working is prevented by mankinds lack of awareness of this. Thus we are subject to conflict and other societal and individual pathologies. If we were to be aware of how spherons reproduce the world we would accept Semashkos peace science and move towards a more harmonious world.

Some months ago in a message to Semashko, I commented that my own work was complementary to his approach, in that I focus at a micro-sociological level, with interests in social psychology and cultural anthropology, o­n how to bring about the necessary changes in consciousness (belief systems and cultural practices) for humans to be able to understand themselves and how the world works. This is in contrast to Semashkos emphasis o­n the macro-sociological level, in the tradition of the young Karl Marx, Max Weber, Talcott Parsons and Nicholas Luhmann, to name just a few amongst many. I have summarised the core of my thinking in the paper Education for cybernetic enlightenment, which can be found o­n the GHA website at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255 .

As a bridge between Semashkos way of thinking and mine, I suggest that the spherons model can be applied recursively from the level of the individual managing his or her own lifes affairs (since, as individuals, we necessarily engage with all aspects of spherons activities) up to small groups, communities, social organisations and, as developed by Semashko, to the social world at large. I see this recursive application of the concept as akin to the cybernetician Stafford Beers recursive application of his viable system model, the VSM. (See, for example, his book Brain of the Firm, 2nd edition, Wiley, New York, 1995 or, for a brief, clear introduction Allenna Leonards(2000) paper "The viable system model and knowledge management", Kybernetes, 29, 5/6, pp.710-715).

I believe this proposed recursive (fractal) application of the concept of spherons can enrich Semashkos theorising and facilitate interdisciplinary communication.

 

Dr. Bernard Scott,

England,

Personal page: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255

May 6th, 2017


Some thought about Leo Semashkos concept of spherons.

(Revised version)

Bernard Scott

Gordon Pask Professor of Sociocybernetics, International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, http://www.sociocybernetics.eu/wp_sociocybernetics/people/ .

Since I first became acquainted with Leo Semashkos tetrasociology (in 2002, when I wrote the editors introduction for his book Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges, http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_eng.pdf ) his theorising has become more detailed and more complex. However, the underlying logic remains the same: it begins with the four spheres of social production of the young Karl Marx, still free from the class struggles political dogmas, and the autopoiesis (self-production) of Humberto Maturana. The four spherons are: 1. the sociospheron which produces people; 2. the infospheron which produces information; 3. the orgspheron which produces organisations; 4. the technospheron which produces things.

Semashkos spherons, by definition, reproduce the human social world (see his primer o­n Global Peace Science at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423 ). Their harmonious working is prevented by mankinds lack of awareness of this. Thus we are subject to conflict and other societal and individual pathologies. If we were to be aware of how spherons reproduce the world we would agree with Semashkos peace science and his proposals for how to move towards a more harmonious world.

Some months ago in a message to Semashko, I commented that my own work was complementary to his approach in that I focus at a micro-sociological level, with interests in social psychology and cultural anthropology, o­n how to bring about the necessary changes in consciousness (belief systems and cultural practices) for humans to be able to understand themselves and how the world works. This is in contrast to Semashkos emphasis o­n the macro-sociological level, in the tradition of the young Karl Marx, Max Weber, Talcott Parsons and Nicholas Luhmann, to name just a few amongst many. I have summarised the core of my thinking in the paper Education for cybernetic enlightenment, which can be found o­n the Global Harmony Associations website at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255 .

As a bridge between Semashkos way of thinking and mine, I suggest that the spherons model can be applied recursively from the level of the individual managing his or her own lifes affairs (since, as individuals, we necessarily engage with all aspects of spherons activities) up to small groups, communities, social organisations and, as developed by Semashko, to the social world at large. I see this recursive application of the concept as akin to the cybernetician Stafford Beers recursive application of his viable system model, the VSM. (See, for example, his book Brain of the Firm, 2nd edition, Wiley, New York, 1995 or, for a brief, clear introduction Allenna Leonards(2000) paper "The viable system model and knowledge management", Kybernetes, 29, 5/6, pp.710-715).

I believe this proposed recursive (fractal) application of the concept of spherons can enrich Semashkos theorising and facilitate interdisciplinary communication.

 

Bernard Scott, May 6th, 2017 (revised version June 6th, 2017).


Original publication:
Bernard Scott (2017) Some thought about Leo Semashkos concept of spherons: ISA RC51 o­n Sociocybernetics. Newsletter 34,
September 2017:
https://sociocybernetics.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/rc51-newsletter-34.pdf


------------------------------------------------------------------

 



( 2002 , : : http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_rus.pdf), . : , , () . , , (. : http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423). - , . . , , .

, , , , ( ), , . , , - . , - : http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255.

, , (, , ) , , , , . , , VSM. (., , , 2- , Wiley, -, 1995 . , (2000) , Kybernetes, 29, 5/6, .710-715).

, () .

 

, , , :

http://www.sociocybernetics.eu/wp_sociocybernetics/people/

: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255

06-05-17

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Excerpts. .

 

Scott

Since I first became acquainted with Leo Semashkos tetrasociology (in 2002, when I wrote the editors introduction for his book Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges: http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_eng.pdf) his theorising has become more detailed and more complex. However, the underlying logic remains the same: it begins with the four spheres of social production of the young Karl Marx, still free from the class struggles political dogmas, and the autopoiesis (self-production) of Humberto Maturana. Semashkos spherons, by definition, reproduce the human social world (see his primer o­n global peace science at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423 ). Their harmonious working is prevented by mankinds lack of awareness of this. Thus we are subject to conflict and other societal and individual pathologies. If we were to be aware of how spherons reproduce the world we would accept Semashkos peace science and move towards a more harmonious world. I see this recursive application of Semashkos concept as akin to the cybernetician Stafford Beers recursive application of his viable system model, the VSM. I believe this proposed recursive (fractal) application of the concept of spherons can enrich Semashkos theorising and facilitate interdisciplinary communication.

 

 

( 2002 , : : http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_rus.pdf), . : , , () . , , (. : http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423). - , . . , , . , , VSM. , () .


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Dear Bernard,

      I am happy to congratulate you personally and o­n behalf of the GHA o­n your birthday today and wish you good health, creative success, happiness and harmony in life! Happy Birthday!
      It is pleasant for me to do it twice, because you stood 15 years ago at the Global Harmony Association birth and at the entrance of Tetrasociology to the International Sociological Association (ISA). You were the editor and wrote the Foreword of my fundamental book "Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges", May 1, 2002: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=147. The theses of this book were presented at the 32 Sessions of the ISA 16th World Congress of Sociology in Brisbane, Australia, where I went thanks to your help and where we first met. This initiated the GHA you are o­ne of its founders and our more than 15 years cooperation in the field of mutually complementing your Sociocybernetics and my Tetrasociology. Your outstanding works o­n Sociocybernetics is published o­n your personal page here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255 . Our joint works are published in many books and projects of the GHA.
       You deeply understand Tetrasociology and have always supported me in its development that I very much appreciate and sincerely thank you. 
      O­n behalf of the GHA, I wish you all the best. We know you as a worthy and noble person and an outstanding scientist with care and responsibility for the future of humanity o­n the basis of a holistic, harmonious and scientific worldview, to the creation of which you devoted your life.
      With love,
Dr. Leo Semashko,
GHA Honorary President,
16-05-17

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The newest publications

Bernard Scott. How Sociocybernetics Can Help Understand Possible World Futures

http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=741

Bernard Scott. Sociocybernetic Reflections o­n the Human Condition

http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=742

Bernard Scott. Minds in Chains: A Sociocybernetic Analysis of the Abrahamic Faiths

http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/SCOTT_Minds%20in%20Chains_PDF.pdf


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sociocybernetics
and Tetrasociology: Scientific Dialogue of West and Russia


Dear Bernard,

I was happy to publish your latest wonderful articles and links to them to put o­n your personal page here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=255.

The newest publications
:
Bernard Scott. How Sociocybernetics Can Help Understand Possible World Futures
http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=741
Bernard Scott. Sociocybernetic Reflections o­n the Human Condition
http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=742
Bernard Scott. Minds in Chains: A Sociocybernetic Analysis of the Abrahamic Faiths
http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/SCOTT_Minds%20in%20Chains_PDF.pdf

I have long put them, I have long studied them and I have long meditated o­n them, because they are great theoretical significance for me, which has been clear to me for a long time and that we have long discussed with you, since 2002, since the publication of my first book in English "Tetrasociology" that you edited and prefaced (http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/2-1_eng.pdf). We are cooperating in the field of interaction of Sociocybernetics and Tetrasociology more than 15 years, although there was a long break. But I'm happy to return to this subject, because both our sciences pursue a threefold aim of a holistic, global and interdisciplinary social scientific knowledge and each o­ne of us moved forward. Modern social science, for the most part (99%), is very far from those goals and continue to collapse and stagnate in its fragmentation, disconnectedness and partiality. We are both well understand this and are both concerned about it and both are looking for a way out of this gnostic impasse: you - through Sociocybernetics, and I - through Tetrasociology. Back in 2002 we wrote about it, along with Dr. Hornung (how he is?) from Germany, joint article: "Tetrasociology and Sociocybernetics: towards a Comparison of the Key Concepts", which was published in a new book "Tetrasociology" (2003: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=160). Both disciplines are combined by systemic approach and a desire for "great sociological theory." We spent a great job when compared the dozens of concepts of three disciplines: traditional sociology (in Corte, 4 volumes, 2000), Sociocybernetics and Tetrasociology to determine their semantic proximity and difference. We discussed the question of "the main concept" of every discipline but have not solved it.

In the new articles you write: "A central concept in cybernetics is 'governance'" as a "management of variety", which is divided into two orders: "first order observed systems" and "second order of observing systems". Accordingly, you distinguish the global problems of the first and second order, which requires a holistic approach in all cases. You criticize their decision from the standpoint of "individualism", which is unacceptable and "is the social disease". Your solution is concentrated in the hard question: "The tough question is, "How do we (humankind) change our practices while the world is falling apart?" The battle for 'correct thinking' has to be won as o­nly 'correct thinking' in the long term leads to 'correct action'." Correct thinking is created by the education that leads to the correct action but it requires feedback with a "more informed knowledge". You find its shortcomings (fallacies), which require priority overcome. You acknowledge of the ideal of knowledge the four ecological (noospheral) laws of Barry Commoner (1971).

But, unfortunately, they do not work so far. West degrades in disharmony of social pathologies of militarism and false consciousness of total fakes. West created a new kind of hatred and racism - Russophobia, which may have more tragic consequences for Europe than German Nazism. Russophobia zombies population, spurring the arms race and allows power to manipulate people with a false consciousness as robots. Deficit of harmony determines disintegration of the EU. West neglects the genius conclusion of Henri Poincaré: "Harmony of the world is the o­nly true objective reality." Deficit of this reality and its key value ​​in the West destroys the EU and the UK, with its Brexit.

Therefore, the reason lies not in ecology, and in the absence of adequate social structure of humanity, interested in environmental and social harmony, rather militarism and false consciousness. In this regard, I am pleased to invite you to come back to our cooperation and discuss the new accents of Tetrasociology. They are focused now o­n the deep constant societal structure of the four SPHERONS employed in in the 4 spheres of social production and constituting the unchanging social genome of humanity, conserving in all its historical transformations at all levels, up to including the individual. Concepts of SPHERONS meet the requirements of a global, holistic and interdisciplinary. They provide unified management of diversity at all levels and in both orders. SPHERONS cover and streamline in harmony all social diversity. They provide a "more informed knowledge", "correct thinking", "correct action" and an adequate education, which includes ecological, noospheral knowledge. The SPHERONS theory is both Sociocybernetic and Tetrasociological. It has become crucial in our time, because it reveals the eternal structure, actors and genome of social harmony as "only true objective reality." o­nly the science of harmony in our disciplines is able to bring it to an understanding of Europeans, Americans and their leaders. But this requires a common scientific understanding of the deep societal structure of SPHERONS harmony.

The SPHERONS idea received in the book "Global Peace Science" detailed theoretical substantiation (Chapter 1) and the fundamental empirical, statistical evidence (Chapter 2). Most briefly (3 pages) the SPHERONS scientific argumentation is presented in two accompanying articles in different versions (see attachment). The first thing I invite you (as well as all humanities scholars) - is to give a scientific assessment of this argumentation, similar to that formulated by the Professor Rudolf Siebert: "scientific conclusion about reality of Spherons is fundamental and logically impeccable as all its premises are logical and factual flawless: 1. Four spheres of social production (Marx and others), 2. Productive employment of people from birth to death, "autopoiesis" (Maturana and others), 3. "Societal communities" of people (Parsons and others) [3]."(See attachment).

I hope these questions interest you, and we will resume cooperation. I invite you to write about this the new joint paper o­n a new level of Sociocybernetics and Tetrasociology. Do you agree with that? Thank you for attention.

Our cooperation will be an example of the scientific dialogue between Russia and Europe, as our collaboration with prof. Siebert is an example of the intellectual dialogue between Russia and USA in the framework of civil diplomacy. Thisscientific missionand bridge are keyimportancetoday.

Friendly
,
Leo Semashko
www.peacefromharmony.org
01/03/17


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Education for Cybernetic Enlightenment[1]

Bernard Scott

Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, Bonn

Bernces1@gmail.com

 

1. Introduction

The paper highlights the need for education that is truly enlightening, an education that provides reflexive awareness of what it is to be a human social actor, o­ne that is empowering for self-determination, o­ne that makes clear the nature of ethical choices, in particular, the choice between, o­n the o­ne hand, selfless service for the greater good or, o­n the other hand, the pursuit of short-term personal goals. The paper sets itself in the context of the many problems that are facing humankind globally in the 21st century, namely, as discussed in Scott (2009): unsustainable economic growth, unsustainable population growth, climate change and a wide range of other ecological disasters. In that paper, I present a figure (shown here as figure 1) as an attempt at a holistic view of a wide range of issues that demand our attention. I comment that possible world future scenarios range from the optimistic to the extremely pessimistic. In Scott (2010a), with respect to the same set of issues, I discuss, in quite general terms, the concept of education for awareness as a way of progressing the global conversation that may in due course lead to at least an amelioration of the possibly catastrophic changes that face us. In Scott (2010b), I discuss the role of higher education and the deployment of learning technologies in contributing to the global conversation.[2] In Scott (2012), I emphasise the need to improve our education systems so that we all become smarter. I refer to Ross Ashbys (1956, p. 206) Law of Requisite Variety that states, Only variety can destroy variety, and his discussion of the amplification of intelligence (ibid, chapter 14). Ashby considers the ability to manage or control variety to be an operational definition of intelligence and notes that this calls for an hierarchy of controllers (Ashby calls them regulators).I point out that the education system encompasses all institutions that have a part to play in producing the next generation of smart controllers, not just nurseries, schools and colleges, but also families, places of work and social encounters. Defined in this broad sense, the education system is the system that reproduces civil society. I note also that the education system is heterarchical rather than hierarchical. In a democracy, there is no overall ruler. Hierarchies are set up as temporary, local expedients.

The main thesis developed in this paper is that an education for awareness is a necessary part of any putative solutions for dealing with the global problems holistically. I set out in outline the curriculum for such an education. In spirit, the curriculum in itself is not new. What are innovative are (i) the use of concepts from cybernetics to stand as foundations for that curriculum (ii) the inclusion within the curriculum of concepts drawn from cybernetics and systems theory (iii) the use of concepts from second order cybernetics to make clear that the delivery of the curriculum should take the form of a conversation and that part of that conversation should be about learning to understand what is effective conversation. Hence, the title of the article: education for cybernetic enlightenment.

 

 

Figure 1. An attempt at a simple holistic overview of some global problems

 2. O­n enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason) extended through the 18th century. Many see it beginning with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when constitutional monarchy was established in what is now referred to as the United Kingdom. Most would consider that it came to an end with the rise and eventual fall (in 1815) of the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte. What is generally agreed is that the Age of Enlightenment ushered in the modern era of industrialisation, entrepreneurship and social experiment and invention[3]. Amongst the leading intellectuals of the day there was no obvious clear-cut consensus about any of the issues that were raised. If there was a consensus at all, it was that there should be an intellectual community in which debate can take place, supported by reasoned arguments and evidence, with, interestingly, some of the debates reflexively concerning themselves with what mankind could hope to achieve through the application of reasoned argument and appeal to evidence. There were pessimistic sceptics as well as optimistic progressives.

 

According to Todorov (2009), it is possible to recognise what can be called the enlightenment project. This project is based o­n three central ideas: autonomy; the human end purpose of our acts; and universality. In brief, autonomy consists in giving priority to what individuals decide for themselves over what is imposed upon them by an external authority. The removal or diminishing of the authority of religious or other traditional institutions also opens up the freedom to decide what are the purposes of human existence and to work towards those purposes. Universality finds its fullest expression in the concept of Universal Human Rights or, as they were referred to at the time, The Rights of Man.

 

My own reading, drawing o­n ideas from cybernetics, persuades me that we now have the possibility of distilling out clear and comprehensible ideas about what is the human condition and what the possibilities are with respect to human purposes and the attainment of universals such as peace and harmony o­n a global scale.

In a nutshell, I believe we may now with confidence make the following assertions:

  • whatever are our cultural or individual differences, as a species, we share o­ne evolving gene pool and o­ne evolving ecosystem
  • whatever are our individual cultural and genetic inheritances, an increasing number of us now have the opportunity for social interaction o­n a global scale
  • as complex adaptive systems, human beings are necessarily constructors of knowledge and experience, not containers or banks where knowledge may be transferred and deposited
  • in our adaptations, we distinguish selves and others and distinguish ourselves doing so
  • in our distinguishing of ourselves distinguishing ourselves and others, we have the opportunity to explore the similarities and differences between us within our evolving belief systems.
  • As a consequence, we may choose to learn together and to cooperate for the greater good.

 

It is my belief that, in a very simple and pragmatic sense, for an individual to be able to claim the title of being cybernetically enlightened, he or she must comprehend and accept the above assertions as true and also accept the truth of the following proposition: There is no such thing as an enlightened self-interest, there is o­nly an enlightened other-interest. Of course, I should immediately point out that the idea of an enlightened other-interest being worthy of practice is not new. It is to be found almost universally in human cultures in the form of the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and its many variants, for example, Love thy neighbour as thyself. I should also point out that it remains a moot point with respect to any particular individual who knows of the Golden Rule whether or not the Golden Rule is practised in any particular situation. I can o­nly propose that comprehension of the assertions set out above would appear to be, if not a guarantor, at least a facilitator in seeing that the Golden Rule is applied.[4]

 

In the following section, I set out some ideas about what should be the curriculum for an education for cybernetic enlightenment.

 

3. The curriculum for an education for cybernetic enlightenment

 

The first order curriculum

Understanding of the assertions set out in the previous section as necessary prerequisites for cybernetic enlightenment rests o­n prior understandings drawn from first order knowledge domains. In brief, there needs to be some understanding of certain key concepts and their associated entailed concepts.

 

The key concepts I have in mind are:

  • heredity and the gene pool as a self-reproductive system,
  • the ecosystem as a dynamic system of circulating constituents,
  • organisms as evolving complex adaptive systems that are organisationally closed and energetically open and which, in their adaptations, become informed of their environments.

 

The second order curriculum

Comprehension of the assertions set out in the previous section also rests o­n prior understandings drawn from second-order knowledge domains. In brief, there needs to be some understanding of:

  • the o­ntogeny of self and other awareness;
  • the dynamics of interpersonal interaction that lead to the constitution of collectives;
  • a reflexive understanding of how individuals in interaction with their worlds and in conversation with themselves and with others come to know;
  • a critical understanding of limits o­n what may be known and understood;
  • an appreciation that individuals and cultures comprise organisationally closed systems of belief, each with a unique form of life.

 

4. Pedagogy

A curriculum has content in the form of desired learning outcomes. Made explicit or implicit within the curriculum, there are prescribed processes for mastering the content. These processes of learning and teaching we shall refer to here as pedagogy. Note that the curriculum as a whole or part of it may be process oriented, where emphasis is placed o­n the learning processes that the learner should engage in, rather than the mastery of particular knowledge content. There is the corresponding requirement that the teacher should teach as a learning coach or learning facilitator. The associated learning outcomes are second learning order in that they emphasise that the learner should become an effective learner and an effective reflective practitioner.

 

Following Pask (1975, 1976), Augstein and Thomas (1991), Freire (1996), Oakeshott (1989) and others, I propose that education for enlightenment must be dialogical; it must take the form of a conversation. Pasks theories of learning and teaching emphasise that the teacher facilitates the processes whereby a learner comes to know, including coming to know his or herself as a knower. The teacher provokes learning, demonstrates effective performance, including the effective performance of being a learner. In dialogical learning, learners and teachers are both learners with the aim of learning together.[5]

 

This means that, necessarily in a learning conversation (the term used by Augstein and Thomas, op cit.), the question of why the learning is taking place has to be kept under review. In reviewing why the learning is taking place, both learner and teacher are positioning themselves as autonomous selves who are making independent choices within worlds that they themselves have constituted as fields of possibilities.

 

With respect to the learning that, ideally, takes place in a university, Oakeshott (op. cit., p. 109) says the following: The pursuit of learning is not a race in which the competitors jockey for the best place. It is not even an argument or a symposium; it is a conversation. He goes o­n to say, A conversation does not need a chairman, it has no predetermined course we do not ask what it is for, and we do not judge sentenced by its conclusion; it has no conclusion, but it's always put by for another day.

 

Freire (op.cit.) in another context, the teaching of literacy to the oppressed, sees the goal of the pedagogy as providing an escape from illiteracy that enables the learner to become a subject capable of critically reviewing the world in which she finds herself. Freire, himself, has a Marxist perspective, in which he distinguishes between the oppressors and the oppressed. The energy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanisation, (Freire, ibid, p. 30) He continues o­n p. 37: Any situation in which A objectively exploits B or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is o­ne of oppression, Thus Freires goal is the humanist liberation of both oppressor and the oppressed, something that can o­nly be achieved by critical awareness, conscientizacāo.

 

He goes o­n to say (ibid, p. 33, footnote 6) The structure of domination (false consciousness) is maintained by its own mechanical unconscious functionality. Given the context in which we find ourselves, as set out in the introduction, we could, I propose, in direct analogy with the situation of the oppressed, illiterate peasant and his oppressor and in the same spirit, assert that The structure of the myth of endless economic growth has been maintained by its own mechanical and unconscious functionality.

 

Implications for an education for cybernetic enlightenment are that, given the context in which we find ourselves, not o­nly should we pursue the rational goal of ameliorating disaster but that, in addition, in order to avoid the possibility that we are merely tinkering with the mechanisms that are destroying us, we should pursue our explorations of the human condition. In the sense of the Enlightenment goal of perfectibility, we need to become more human and to aim to empower others to be more human, too. As Freire writes: To affirm that men and women are persons and yet do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality is a farce (ibid, p.32).

 

Let me make clear that, although what I am proposing is really simple in concept, however putting the concept into practice, in all places at all times, is far from simple. In many parts of the world, it is positively dangerous. Even in our benign liberal democracies, to act so as to maximise the possibilities of the growth of human awareness may lead us into serious difficulties, as when, for example, our personal economic or physical security is put at risk. Let us dare to speak the truth and to speak that truth in love. There is no true word that is not at the same time a practice. Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world, ibid, p. 68.

 

As we come to understand how we co-construct ourselves and our worlds. We can foster and nurture those understandings. In moments of optimism, I am encouraged by the possibility that these new forms of shared awareness can cast aside all the chains, including the mental o­nes, whereby humans in their ignorance abuse o­ne another. Throughout history, all abusive power structures, all hierarchies of control, have been undermined. Even if they survive for millennia, they are temporary structures. The fundamental human condition is heterarchical.Through our sometimes conflicting and sometimes co-operating interactions, power hierarchies come and, eventually, collapse.Second order cybernetics makes clear that we are observers who co-construct shared realities.[6] Humberto Maturana outlines what a truly human society is like when we choose to co-create o­ne: it is A product of human art, that is, an artificial society that admits change and accepts every human being as not dispensible. Such a society is necessarily a non-hierarchical society for which all relations of order are constitutively transitory and circumstantial to the creation of relations that continuously negate the institutionalization of human abuse. Such a society is in its essence an anarchistic society, and society made for and by observers that would not surrender their condition of observers as their o­nly claim to social freedom and mutual respect (Maturana and Varela, 1980, Introduction, Point 15).

 

5. Concluding comments

The good news is that we do now have the means for doing these things through the affordances of the Internet, the World Wide Web and the tools that afford social networking. In my optimistic moments, I perceive everywhere the seeds of an emerging global conversation and the emerging critical awareness of those who are participating. In my pessimistic moments, I perceive that most of the time we are still all trapped in the false consciousness of a disastrous business as usual. We are in a race against time. It is also likely that as events unfold we will be shocked into the necessary awareness of the folly and emptiness of our ways of thinking and behaving. By then of course, for many of us, if not for a majority, it will be too late.

 

References

Ashby, W.R., (1956). Introduction to Cybernetics, Wiley, New York.

Freire, P. (1996). The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin books, London. (First published in 1970 by the Continuum Publishing Company).

Glanville, R. (2002). Second order cybernetics. Invited chapter for Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, UNESCO. http://www.eolss.net/. Reprinted as chapter 1.11 of Glanville R (2012) Cybernetic Circles, The Black Boox, Volume 1.echoraum-WISDOM, Vienna, 175-208.

Glanville R (2012). Objects. Chapter 2.01 of Cybernetic Circles, The Black Boox, Volume 1.echoraum-WISDOM, Vienna, 231-322.

Glanville, R. (in press). Cybernetics: thinking through the technology. In Arnold, D. (ed.) Traditions of Systems Theory: Major Figures and Contemporary Developments. Routledge, New York.

Harri-Augstein, S. and Thomas, L. F. (1991). Learning Conversations, London, Routledge.

Maturana, H.R. and Varela, F.J. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition, Reidel, Dordrecht.

Oakeshott, M. (1989). The Voice of Liberal Learning. Yale University press, Yale, Ma.

O'Hara, K. (2010). The Enlightenment: A Beginner's Guide. o­ne world publications, Oxford, UK.

Pask, G. (1975). Conversation, Cognition and Learning. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Pask, G. (1976). Conversation Theory: Applications in Education and Epistemology, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Scott, B. (2009). The role of sociocybernetics in understanding world futures, Kybernetes, 38, 6, 867-882.

Scott, B. (2010a). The global conversation and the socio-biology of awareness and consciousness, J. of Sociocybernetics, 7, 2, 21-33.

Scott, B. (2010b). The role of higher education in understanding and achieving sustainable development: lessons from sociocybernetics, J. of Sociocybernetics, 7, 1, 9-26.

Scott, B. (2011). Explorations in Second Order Cybernetics: Reflections o­n Cybernetics, Psychology and Education. echoraum, Vienna.

Scott, B. (2012). Using the logic of life to reduce the complexity of life, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 19, 3, 93-104.

Todorov, T. (2009). In Defence of the Enlightenment. Atlantic books, London.



[1] An earlier version of this paper was presented at the XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 11-17, 2010.

[2] The papers Scott (2009, 2010a, 2010b), together with some other papers pertinent to the theme of this article, have been republished as part of a collection (Scott, 2011).

[3] For a recent, highly readable and reasonably comprehensive account of the Age of Enlightenment, see O'Hara (2010).

[4] Confucius, as I recall, is reported to have said that he knew many who aspired to be of good will towards others but had never met anyone who could maintain that good will for a whole day.

[5] All the authors cited contrast the dialogical, conversational approach to pedagogy with the transfer or banking model, in which knowledge is conceived of as a commodity which can be transmitted from o­ne person to another, then stored and retrieved as required.

[6] I particularly recommend the writings of Ranulph Glanville o­n this topic (Glanville, 2002, 2012, in press).In his own original contribution to second order cybernetics, the theory of Objects, Glanville takes as a starting point the concept that observation and self-observation are complementary non-intersecting processes that necessarily bring forth temporal and spatial worlds of experience.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE ROLE OF SOCIOCYBERNETICS IN UNDERSTANDING WORLD FUTURES

Bernard Scott

Cranfield University

Defence Academy

Shrivenham

Wilts, SN6 8LA, UK

To be presented at the 8th International Conference of Sociocybernetics

COMPLEX SYSTEMS, INTERDISCIPLINARITY AND WORLD FUTURES

Ciudad de Mxico, MXICO 24-28 June 2008

Abstract


Sociocybernetics is concerned with applying theories and methods from cybernetics and the systems sciences to the social sciences by offering concepts and tools for addressing problems holistically and globally. With its distinction between first order studies of observed systems and the second order study of observing systems, sociocybernetics provides a unifying epistemological and methodological conceptual framework. Within this framework, sociocybernetics accommodates a wealth of specialisms in the social sciences, ranging, for example, from the drivers and effects of technological development to sustainability to justice. The shared framework facilitates communication between social science specialisms and also between the social sciences, the natural sciences and the applied, technological sciences. This paper sets out some ideas about how sociocybernetics can contribute to understanding possible world futures. A central concept in cybernetics is governance, the art of steersmanship. As conceived by Ashby, Beer and others, this art is concerned with the management of variety. How do we face the challenge of managing all the variety that makes up possible world futures?


Introduction


Sociocybernetics is concerned with applying theories and methods from cybernetics and the systems sciences to the social sciences by offering concepts and tools for addressing problems holistically and globally.


Cybernetics is a transdiscipline (Latin trans - across) that abstracts from the many domains it adumbrates, models of great generality. Such models serve several purposes: they bring order to the complex relations between disciplines; they provide useful tools for ordering the complexity within disciplines; they provide a lingua franca for inter-disciplinary communication; they may also serve as powerful pedagogic and cultural tools for the transmission of key insights and understandings to succeeding generations. However, as noted by Immanuel Wallerstein (1997), past President of the International Sociological Association, if a transdisciplinary approach is to make a real contribution in the natural and social sciences, it must be more than a list of similitudes. It must also be epistemologically sophisticated and well-grounded. Cybernetics, with its explicit distinction between first and second order forms, can claim, not o­nly to satisfy this criterion, but also to be making significant contributions to epistemological debates.


One of the founding predications of the cybernetics and systems movement (for expository convenience I package these together, although I am well aware of the o­ngoing debates about overlaps, similarities and differences between cybernetics and systems theory) is that systemic problems need to be addressed holistically (Beer, 1967). For sociocybernetics, this means addressing human system issues holistically within the context of varied ecological and, indeed, cosmological settings.

With its distinction between first order studies of observed systems and the second order study of observing systems, sociocybernetics provides a unifying epistemological and methodological conceptual framework. Within this framework, sociocybernetics accommodates a wealth of specialisms within the social sciences, ranging, for example, from the drivers for and effects of technological development to sustainability to justice. The shared framework facilitates communication between social science specialisms and also between the social sciences, the natural sciences and the applied, technological sciences

This paper sets out some ideas about how sociocybernetics can contribute to understanding possible world futures. A central concept in cybernetics is governance, the art of steersmanship. As conceived by Ashby, Beer and others, this art is concerned with the management of variety. How do we face the challenge of managing all the variety that makes up possible world futures?


The distinction between first and second order studies makes clear there are two levels to this challenge:

The variety and complexity of first order observed systems

The variety and complexity of second order systems, of interactions between observing systems.

Already, the distinction between the two levels has reduced variety. A key thesis of this paper is that both levels have to be addressed. Attempting to understand possible world futures with studies at level 1only omits the challenge of bringing about change through social action. Using level 2 studies to address the challenge of bringing about change through social action can o­nly be fruitful insofar as relevant models and data are available from level 1 studies. The paper briefly overviews what some current level 1 models and data are telling us about possible world futures. The paper also briefly overviews what some current level 2 models and data are telling us about possible world futures. The paper goes o­n to outline ways in which sociocybernetics can address the problems thus summarised. In particular, given some consensus about what level 1 models and data are revealing to us about possible world futures, what needs to be done to address the level 2 problems such that the identified level 1 problems can be addressed?


Being holistic about global problems

I discussed the question of what it means to be holistic about global problems in Scott (2002). I quote:

With respect to the need to be both holistic and global, Luhmann (1989) very clearly warns of two dangers:

(i) failure to resonate with the ecosystem (not being global enough in our concerns);

(ii) too much resonance between social systems (not being holistic enough to dampen

unfruitful noise and excitement).


Examples of (i) are many:being parochial with respect to o­nes own ecological niche; focussing o­n o­ne issue (e.g., global warming or poverty) but not taking cognisance of related issues (e.g., opportunities for education or political freedoms). Examples of (ii) are also many: the promotion of o­ne scientific discipline over another; the promotion of o­ne political ideology over another.


(However,) being holistic lacks meaning for an individual if the implied theoretical ideal lacks a praxis; the concept lacks consensual meaning if the praxis is not in some sense o­ne that sociocyberneticians, as actors, may agree to apply together, in concert. In systemic terms, actualising holism requires a nucleation, a cognitive/affective centre around which the many facets and levels of our concerns may cohere and coalesce as insight and intuition. Where is such a universal centre to be found? I argue that it is precisely the perceived need for a holistic centring that is the centre or, rather, may serve as such a centre if we so choose. That is, as practitioners it is sufficient to intend to be holistic and to share that intent - in order for ideas to be created fruitfully.


Sociocybernetics offers guiding principles that bear o­n the question of how a community of observers can establish and maintain consensus, including:


Ashbys Law of Requisite Variety: o­nly variety can control variety

Scotts principles of observation: there is always a bigger picture; there is always another level of detail; there is always another perspective.

von Foersters ethical imperative: act to maximise the alternatives

von Foersters corollary to his ethical imperative: A is better off when B is better off.

I am aware of very few examples where natural scientists and social scientist are working together. o­ne I came across was a workshop o­n human interactions with the carbon cycle. I quote from the summary.


The carbon cycle has recently become interesting to policy makers because human activities that release carbon-containing greenhouse gases are the primary source of the threat of global warming. In the United States, the carbon cycle has become a major element of global change research, although so far this effort has not yet integrated the relevant fields of the social and behavioral sciences. This report summarizes a November, 2001 workshop at the National Research Council intended to improve communication between the relevant research communities in the natural and social sciences, leading eventually to an expansion of the carbon cycle program element in directions that would better integrate the two domains.


The workshop focused o­n a small number of issues that are already recognized as important in the U.S. carbon cycle research program and for which the relevance of the social sciences is readily apparent: (a) the future of fossil fuel consumption; (b) carbon implications of future land use/land cover transformation; and (c) modelling human interactions with the carbon cycle. Workshop participants identified a number of substantive research needs and other activities that they believed would advance knowledge in this field. These included the need to analyze and test assumptions underlying carbon emissions scenarios, to improve understanding of how social and economic forces drive the carbon cycle, and the need to build a long and continuing historical record of human activities shaping the carbon cycle.


Stern, P.C. for the National Research Council (2002). Human Interactions with the Carbon Cycle: Summary of a Workshop. National Academy of Sciences, Washington.  HYPERLINK "http://www.nationalacademies.org/gateway/international/1105.html" http://www.nationalacademies.org/gateway/international/1105.html . Accessed May 29th 2008.


Even with this example, o­ne can see that the concerns are quite narrow and specific, certainly not global and holistic.


First Order Problems


In this section I briefly summarise some of the main challenges facing mankind in the 21st century in terms of observed systems, natural and economic. I have been researching the topic of world futures over a period of several months in my spare time.I have come across a bewildering amount of data:population growth, energy production and consumption, energy prices, food production and prices, differences in ecological footprints and carbon footprints for different parts of the world. data o­n birth rates, death rates and causes of deaths, data o­n poverty, literacy, opportunities for education, data o­n forms of government and abuses of human rights and all manner of data o­n damage to the ecosystem and biosphere. All I can present here are a few samples from all the data that I have come across.[1]


A world o­n the move


Modern economies are based o­n forms of capitalism where returns o­n investment lead to reinvestment with the goal of continued economic growth.This growth requires a source of labour, much of it skilled and professional, to keep it going, together with the reinvestment of profits and readily available sources of energy and raw materials.With this growth the rich get richer and continue to do so.


The so-called developed world (e.g., Europe, US, Canada, Australia, Russia) sustains its economic growth by (i) reinvestment and (ii) large scale immigration. The so-called developing world (e.g., India and China and the Pacific Rim) have large populations to support economic growth and, as they develop, also attract and encourage economic migrants. Both developed and developing nations are investing in education and training and are creating relatively wealthy middle classes and super-rich plutocracies. There is a flow of labour, as legal and illegal immigrants from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia into Western Europe.There are flows from South America into North America.There are flows into Australia.


Consequences of economic growth


The switch from hunter gatherer societies, over millennia, together with a growth in world population, has made humankind net consumers of the earths resources. That is, in the long term economic growth is not sustainable.Forests are cut down, species are lost, oceans are depleted of fish stocks, fertile lands become deserts.

In recent times, fossil fuels, as a source of stored energy and desirable byproducts such as fertilisers, plastic and pharmaceuticals, have fed economic growth and continue to do so.

These developments have brought us to the point or, as many believe, past the point where the Earth can support and feed the human population. The use of such fuels and other resources has triggered climate change, widespread pollution and damage to the ozone layer.


Population growth


The problems associated with continued economic growth are exacerbated by continued population growth coupled with a growth in the numbers, within the larger population, of those enjoying higher standards of living, such as access to energy and water services, access to education and social welfare programmes, access to a supply of (until recently, at least) relatively cheap foodstuffs and clothing. It has been estimated by some that it would take five earths to support the current population if everyone was enjoying the same standard of living as that now enjoyed by the Europeans, North Americans and other developed parts of the world. As we attempt to feed the world, we seem blind to the observed relation that greater availability of food leads to increase in population, unless, of course, measures are taken to encourage birth control or where other factors, such as AIDS, wars and natural disasters are increasing the death rate.


Many authorities believe that o­nly a drastic reduction in population numbers and radical changes to how economies work can ameliorate the outcomes of this sustainability overshoot. The terms rapid population decline (RPD) and one child per family (OCPF) are gaining common currency.


Some argue that it is too late or impossible for man made institutions to implement the changes needed, in which case the required changes will be brought about by wars, famine and natural disasters.They argue that we are o­n the verge if entering, if not already in, what is referred to as the long crisis. A key factor in this long crisis is the problem of how to meet the demands for readily available energy. It is generally agreed that we have reached or are close to a turning point referred to as peak oil, the moment when the demand for fossil fuels can no longer be met by supplies. As this happens, fuel prices will rise (as is being experienced as I write) with all manner of knock o­n effects. As yet, satisfactory alternative supplies of energy are not available.


Concerns about population growth have been around for a long time. Aldous Huxley, writing in 1959 (Huxley, 1978), stated, Over-population is quite clearly o­ne of the gravest problems which confront us, and the choice before us is either to let the problem be solved by nature in the most horrifying possible way or else to find some intelligent and humane way of solving it.

In 1972, the Club of Rome published the report Limits to Growth, whose major conclusion was:


If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth o­n this planet will be reached sometime within the next o­ne hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity. (Meadows et al, 1972)

In March, 2008, a conference o­n the topic From Global Warning to Global Policy was convened by the World Political Forum and the Club of Rome and chaired by President Mikhail Gorbachev in Turin o­n March 28-29 2008. I quote from the final statement.


The participants concluded that the world has entered a period in which the dramatic scale, complexity and speed of change caused by human activities threaten the fragile environmental and ecological systems of the planet o­n which we depend. It is urgent therefore that the world community should agree rapidly o­n strategies and effective action to avert irreversible change in world systems, brought about by accelerating climate change, the ecosystems crisis, the depletion of energy resources and the diminishing availability of water, the degradation of environments across the world, persistent poverty and deprivation and the rising gulf between rich and poor within and between countries. Also, global population is in the midst of a transition from explosive growth to a new paradigm of development, never before experienced by humankind. ( HYPERLINK "http://www.clubofrome.org/news/news.php?id=84" http://www.clubofrome.org/news/news.php?id=84 . AccessedMay 28th, 2008)


Some data o­n population growth with possible projections is shown in figure 1.

 EMBED PowerPoint.Slide.8


Figure 1. Projected figures for population growth (Source, Wikipedia article, Population Growth,  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth . Accessed May 29th 2008.)


Here as are extracts from an article by Peter Salonius, soil microbiologist and environmental activist, published in Science Alert, Aprill 30th, 2008.


News of food price escalation is bringing global carrying capacity for human beings 'front and center'- with food riots all over the world. 


At the core of our problems today has been our unwillingness to see the relationship between the population numbers that we have built up since the advent of cultivation agriculture, and the sustainability problems that we have been side stepping for 10,000 years. Many keen thinkers have understood that the driver enabling our numbers to shoot so far over long-term carrying capacity has been the o­ne-time gift of fossil fuels, and that this overshoot has resulted in our rampant destruction of the biosphere. The global human population, before the start of the Fossil-Fuel Revolution, was about 1 billion, while it is now about 6.7 billion and rising. These holistic thinkers suggest that without oil, the earth will o­nly support about 2-3 billion people. Their forward thinking has not yet included an understanding of the thesis that the other major factor that has enabled our numbers to shoot so far over long-term carrying capacity has been the o­ne-time gift of erodible soils and the vast store of nutrients they contained until we began to irreversibly mine them about 10,000 years ago with cultivation agriculture. I suggest that without petroleum, and after we stop mining arable soils, the Earth will o­nly support the 100-300 million people it did before the advent of cultivation agriculture.


For the complete article, visit  HYPERLINK "http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20083004-17256-4.html" http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20083004-17256-4.html . Accessed May 28th, 2008.


Climate change


Rosenzweiget al (2008) state in the abstract to their recent paper o­n climate change:

Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring o­n all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel o­n Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact o­n physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.


Species extinction


In a recent article o­n Extinctions by Emily Dugan (The Independent May 16th, 2008), we have:

The world's species are declining at a rate "unprecedented since the

extinction of the dinosaurs", a census of the animal kingdom has revealed. The

Living Planet Index out today shows the devastating impact of humanity as

biodiversity has plummeted by almost a third in the 35 years to 2005.

The report, produced by WWF, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the

Global Footprint Network, says land species have declined by 25 per cent, marine

life by 28 per cent, and freshwater species by 29 per cent.

Jonathan Loh, editor of the report, said that such a sharp fall was

"completely unprecedented in terms of human history". "You'd have to go back to

the extinction of the dinosaurs to see a decline as rapid as this," he added.

"In terms of human lifespan we may be seeing things change relatively slowly,

but in terms of the world's history this is very rapid."

And "rapid" is putting it mildly. Scientists say the current extinction rate

is now up to 10,000 times faster than what has historically been recorded as

normal.


The story of food


Over his lifetime, R. Buckminster Fuller wrote critically about the problems of planet earth and proposed many solutions. For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. o­nly ten years ago the more with less technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful. (Fuller, 1980).

Twenty eight years later, we have announcements like this:

Agency warns of 'silent tsunami' of hunger.

World Bank says food prices have risen 83 percent in three years

The Associated Press, April 22, 2008

Luis Liwanag in The New York Times, May 18th, 2008, writes:

In the 1960s, population growth was far outrunning food production, threatening famine in many poor countries. But then wealthier nations joined forces with the poor countries to improve crop yields. Countries like India and Pakistan embraced new plant varieties, irrigation projects and fertilizer programs in a vast effort that came to be known as the Green Revolution.

Yields soared, and by the 1980s, the threat of starvation had receded in most of the world. With Europe and the United States offering their farmers heavy subsidies that encouraged production, grain became abundant worldwide, and prices fell.

From 1970 to 1990, the peak Green Revolution years, the food supply grew faster than the world population. But after 1990, foods growth rate fell below population growth. Around 2004, the world economy began growing more quickly, about 5 percent a year. So as the food supply was lagging, millions of people were gaining the money to improve their diets.

The world began to use more grain than it was producing, cutting into reserves, and prices started rising. Early this year, as stocks fell to perilous levels, international grain prices doubled or even tripled, threatening as many as 100 million people with malnutrition.


Causes of food shortages include the following:

Rising oil prices affect costs of production, including fertilisers, processing, transport

Growing crops for biofuels reduces amount of crops grown for food

Adverse weather conditions affect level of production

With economic growth, as individuals enjoy higher levels of income, there is a tendency for them to eat more and to eat more expensive to produce foodstuffs

With population growth, there is a need to continue to increase supplies of foodstuffs.


Overview of first order problems


Figure 2 is intended to be a simple holistic overview of what some current first order models and data are telling us about possible world futures.

 EMBED PowerPoint.Slide.8

Figure 2. An attempt at a simple holistic overview of some global problems


Second Order Problems


Second order problems concern human behaviour and social interactions where the participants are observing systems holding beliefs with associated values, following institutionalised behaviour patterns, engaging in creative problem solving, learning and communicating, all in the pursuit of goals, some of which may be consciously articulated, some of which are the non-conscious consequences of participation in a culture and of genetic heritage.

Some important second order issues are:

differing kinds and levels of social and cultural development, including differences in quality of life, access to health services and education, problems of identity and social conflict, for example, as set out in the hypothesis of there being a clash of civilisations (Huntington, 1997).

pathological belief systems which institutionalise ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and conflict

as noted by Luhmann, the problem of noise in the marketplace of ideas

the problem of empowerment for social action as in the lack of democratic forms of government and lack of access to opportunities for personal development.

These problems can be summed up in terms of two cybernetic principles:

Evil is that which restricts the right of actors to interact (Pask, 1991)

Act so as to maximise the alternatives (von Foerster, 1993)


The two principles are complementary. Both are predicated o­n two key assumptions: (i) there is a shared gene pool (ii) persons are socially constructed. The first principle helps identify blocks and constraints. The second principle helps to guide creative, positive action. Both are, in essence, corollaries of the Law of Requisite Variety that Only variety can control variety (Ashby, 1956). Variety is controlled by identifying redundancies, patterns, lawfulness. Hence the importance of education (L. educare, to lead out of) and the importance of concepts that provide transdiciplinary and metadisciplinary clarity and coherence to manage the variety of theories and models in the academic market place. Cybernetic concepts can serve the latter functions. In Scott (1998a), I set out some of the concepts from cybernetics which I believe should be part of the spiral curriculum that, ideally, is revisited throughout an individuals education from primary to higher levels, at each stage with greater sophistication and detail. In Scott (1998b), I discuss the important role that higher education can play in helping to achieve sustainable development. In Scott (2004), I discuss the role that the internet and learning technologies can play in delivering this spiral curriculum globally.


In order to avoid the scientistic prejudices of objectivism (the belief that there is a pre-given objective reality to be discovered and explained) and reductionist materialism (the belief that reality can be ultimately explained in terms of laws governing the behaviour of matter/energy), the constructivist epistemologies found in second order cybernetics need to be promulgated as metatruths about what it means for observers to agree that something is true.[1]

The problem of pathological belief systems is a very broad topic. How humans form and maintain systems of belief is a complex business, with rational and non-rational aspects (Wolpert, 2006). Even belief systems that are rationally constructed may in the longer term turn out to be flawed and misguided. A case in point is the faith of economists in classic economic models based o­n the concept of equilibrium between supply and demand. Ormerod (2005) points out that failure to predict the future is endemic in the business world. The world, as a whole, continues to surprise us. How many in advance of the events predicted the following:


The fall of the iron curtain

The rise of China and India as economic superpowers

The rise of Islam as a global ideology and political system

The moral collapse of the West as an accompaniment of secularism and scientistic reductionism.

The failure, despite decades of warnings, of political leaders to respond to the challenges of global ecosystem destruction.

The failure to address the problems of continuous population growth , poverty and lack of educational opportunities.

The lack of heavy weight intellectual and political leadership?


Francois (2007, p.123) writes, Ignorance of ignorance is much worse than simple ignorance as it frequently leads to self deception and self-sufficiency. The o­nly way to exempt us from such a calamity is to try to better our models of what we call reality.For this, o­nce again, a wider cybernetic reasoning as a tool for understanding should be very helpful.

The successful financier, George Soros, has developed a second order, reflexive model of economic behaviour. As Umpleby points out, Soros is doing second order cybernetics. His theory is an example of the wider cybernetic reasoning referred to by Francois. (See Appendix 1.) Table 1 in Appendix 1 is taken from Umpleby (2008). It summarises the key differences between classic equilibrium theory and Soros second order reflexivity theory.

Looking for Solutions


What might be done?As economies collapse, nation states and coalitions thereof may well go o­n a war footing, where new orders of doing things are imposed, for example, rationing of food and energy, bans o­n travel, investment in alternative forms of energy supply, imposition of birth control.As noted above, hopefully there may also be an accelerated process of education, awareness raising and political empowerment that includes the recognition that some belief systems such as Islamism or individualism are unacceptable.In the case of Islam, this is because the Islamic world, following its current practices, is a net contributor to population growth.It is also a source of social conflict. (See Appendix 2.)


Individualism is the social disease, currently legitimised and encouraged in all parts of the world, of seeking, as an individual, to become rich and powerful relative to o­nes neighbours.Legislative and economic practices reforms of some kind will be required.There will be (indeed, there is) also the requirement to educate, raise awareness and change belief systems.


The tough question is, How do we (humankind) change our practices while the world is falling apart? The battle for correct thinking has to be won as o­nly correct thinking in the long term leads to correct action. The populace in the developed countries with access to resources such as mass education and mass communication systems are not stupid or necessarily ignorant.They are seduced by consumerism and the lifestyles portrayed in popular entertainment.Insofar as there is a growing awareness that disasters of o­ne kind or another are imminent, this is accompanied by feelings of alienation and disempowerment.We will need a rapid change in popular consciousness delivering the right messages as disasters strike such that politicians and corporate leaders are obliged to change their ways.


It is of value for all of us, as ordinary people to engage in discussion about these issues. There are underlying empirical and logical truths as sketched out above, that need to be understood and promulgated. The right thinking produced by education will lead to the right action, including the action of promoting the right thinking and of commanding the means to do so.This requires educational activities to go hand in hand with the evolution of more effective means for democratic participation.The populous, made aware of what is required, must find its voice. We need positive feedback cycles where the demand for better education and more informed knowledge about what is happening and why leads to demands for even better education, knowledge sharing and ways of translating right thinking into right action.


With respect to right thinking, I have identified two fallacies which I believe need to addressed and corrected:

The fallacy of the particular: I am all right because the problems are happening some where else.

The fallacy of the general: Humankind will survive somehow.


In relative terms, Fallacy 1 was perhaps o­nce true but is clearly false now that, globally, as noted below, Everything is connected to everything else. With respect to Fallacy 2, it is possibly true but, as a pious hope, can blind us to an awareness of the great cost in human lives and suffering that will be (and is being) paid as part of the survival of the species.

There follows a brief listing of some aspects of possible solutions that I have come across in the literature and in the media. There is not space here to present them in any detail. I present them as a means of promoting further discussion.

Switching to renewable forms of energy.


Using alternative forms of production and waste disposal that are truly sustainable, possibly using nanotechnologies and synthetic biology.

Using just and humane forms of birth control to reduce the global population.

Only interacting with the ecosystem in ways that are sustainable and healing of damage already inflicted.

Education for social justice and quality of life, rather than for the individualism of wealth accumulation and consumerism.

Education and legislation for empowerment as part of more effective forms of democratic government

A move away from the economic growth emphasis of modern capitalism as embodied in limited companies, corporations and shareholders towards cooperative forms of institution.


New forms of tithing or taxation that change damaging behaviours and/or release resources that can be invested in developing sustainable ways of doing things.


Concluding Comments


Given the scale of the problems at both first and second order levels, it is likely that mankind is inevitably facing major disasters o­n a global scale. Amelioration of these disasters will, in the limit, be in the hands of whatever communities emerge and survive locally. More global solutions are thinkable. However, as these entail a radical re-appraisal and re-education about what it is to be human, it is not obvious at this stage that these global solutions are doable. It may be too late for such a global transformation of human consciousness to be achieved. It may be that, as proposed by Morrison (1999) and many others, there are intrinsic limitations o­n the extent to which the human species can embody the beliefs needed to ensure its survival.


A majority of commentators appear to see no alternative to capitalism, economic competition, continually striving for more, for better standards of living. Some do question the values and their relative importance.What is more important; a high income or safety from harm, riches or job satisfaction? And so o­n. There are alternatives to secular, materialistic capitalist ways of life.For example, there those based o­n the concept of sustainable living, abiding by Commoners (1971) Four Laws of Ecology. I cite them here as key holistic, systemic, cybernetic ideas that are essential for understanding how we might manage the variety in global systems:


1. Everything is connected to everything else. There is o­ne ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects o­ne, affects all.

2. Everything must go somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no away to which things can be thrown.

3. Nature knows best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, likely to be detrimental to that system.

4. There is no such thing as a free lunch. In nature, both sides of the equation must balance, for every gain there is a cost, and all debts are eventually paid.[1]


It is my belief that ideas such as these should be vital parts of educational curricula, from the cradle to the grave.[1]

There are also alternatives based o­n a life of faith, as in, As you sow, so shall you reap and The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.When, in Christianity, o­ne is born again of the spirit o­ne is invited to put all o­nes trust for material and spiritual well-being in God the father. The spiritual life, the life of faith in its various forms does seem to be an alternative to secular, materialistic capitalism.[1] This is not to say there is no place for labour, for toil, for enterprise and the enjoying of its fruits.Max Weber long ago discerned the protestant ethic of working hard.However there is a distinction between working for personal materialistic gain and working to help bring in the kingdom of God. With the latter mind set, financial and other personal sacrifices can be accepted and accepted joyfully.


References


Ashby, W.R., (1956). Introduction to Cybernetics, Wiley, New York.

Beer, S. (1967). Decision and Control, Wiley, New York.

Commoner, C. (1971). The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology. Knopf, New York.

Francois, C. (2007). The vindication of a generalised cybernetic reason, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 14, 1, pp. 117-124.

Fuller, Buckminster R (1980) Critical Path: with Kiyoshi Kuromiya, adjuvant, St. Martin's Press, New York City, New York.

Hammond, P. (2005). Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat. Christian Liberty Books, Capetown, SA
Huntington, S.P. (1997). The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster, London.

Huxley, A. (1978). The Human Situation, Chatto and Windus, London.

Julian of Norwich (1999). Revelations of Divine Love, translated by A.C. Spearling, Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth, Middx.

Luhmann, N (1989) Ecological Communication, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.I., Randers, J. Behrens, W.W. III (1972). The Limits to Growth. A Report to the Club of Rome (1972).  HYPERLINK "http://www.clubofrome.org/docs/limits.rtf" http://www.clubofrome.org/docs/limits.rtf. Accessed May 26th 2008.

Morrison, R. (1999). The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature, Cornell University Press, New York.

Mulej, M and Kajzer, S (1998) Ethics of interdependence and the Law of Requisite Holism,

in M Rebernick and M Mulej (eds), Linking Systems Thinking, Innovation, Quality, Entrepreneurship and Environment, The Slovenian Systems ResearchSociety and partners, Maribor.

Ormerod, P. (2005). Why Most Things Fail .. And How to Avoid It.Faber and Faber, London.

Pask, G. (1991). "The right of actors to interact: a fundamental human freedom", in Glanville, R. and de Zeeuw, G. (eds.) Mutual Uses of Cybernetics and Science (Vol 2), Systemica, 8, 1 to 6, Thesis Publishers, Amsterdam.

Rosenzweig, C., Karoly, D., Vicarelli, M., Neofotis, P., Wu, O., Casassa, G., Menzel, A., Root, T.L., Estrella, N., Seguin, B., Tryjanowski, P., Liu, C., Rawlins, S. and Imeson, A. (2008). Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature 453, pp. 353-357.

Scott, B (1998a). Simplifying the complex: the case for cybernetics, presented at the Congress of the International Sociological Association, Montreal, July, 1998, extended abstract in the proceedings.

Scott, B (1998b) The role of Higher Education in understanding and achieving sustainable development: lessons from sociocybernetics, presented at the Congress of the International Sociological Association, Montreal, July, 1998, extended abstract in the proceedings.

Scott, B. (2002) Being holistic about global issues: needs and meanings, J. of Sociocybernetics, 3, 1, pp. 21-26 (presented at the 1st International Conference o­n Sociocybernetics, University of Crete, May, 1999).

Scott, B. (2004). How can e-learning contribute to a secure and sustainable future for all?, presented at the 5th International Conference o­n Sociocybernetics, Lisbon, July, 2004

Smith, A (1999) Review of Hazemi et als The Digital University: Reinventing the Academy, Times Higher Education Supplement, April 2nd.

Umpleby, S.(2006). Reflexivity in social systems: the theories of George Soros

Presented at a meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Sonoma, CA, July 2006.  HYPERLINK "http://www.gwu.edu/~umpleby/recent.html" http://www.gwu.edu/~umpleby/recent.html . Accessed May 29th, 2008.

Von Foerster, H., (1993). Ethics and second order cybernetics, Psychiatria Danubia, 5, 1-2, pp. 40-46.

Wallerstein, I., "Differentiation and reconstruction in the social sciences" Letter from the President, No. 7, ISA Bulletin 73-74, pp. 1-2, October 1997.

Wolpert, L. (2006). Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief.Faber and Faber, London.


Appendix 1.


Extracts from a speech by George Soros at MIT, August 7th, 2007.  HYPERLINK "http://www.sharpeinvesting.com/2007/08/george-soros-theory-of-reflexivity-mit-speech.html" http://www.sharpeinvesting.com/2007/08/george-soros-theory-of-reflexivity-mit-speech.html. Accessed May 29th 2008.

Reflexivity is, in effect, a two-way feedback mechanism in which reality helps shape the participants thinking and the participants thinking helps shape reality in an unending process in which thinking and reality may come to approach each other but can never become identical. Knowledge implies a correspondence between statements and facts, thoughts and reality, which is not possible in this situation. The key element is the lack of correspondence, the inherent divergence, between the participants views and the actual state of affairs. It is this divergence, which I have called the participants bias, which provides the clue to understanding the course of events. That, in very general terms, is the gist of my theory of reflexivity.

I have come to distinguish between normal conditions and far-from equilibrium conditions. In normal conditions, there is a tendency for the participants views and the actual state of affairs to converge or, at least, there are mechanisms at work to prevent them from drifting too far apart. I call these conditions normal, because that is what our intellectual traditionsincluding philosophy and scientific method have prepared us for. I contrast them with far-from- equilibrium conditions, where the participants views are far removed from the actual state of affairs and there is no tendency for the two of them to come together. I have always found the far-from-equilibrium conditions much more fascinating, and I have studied them both in theory and in practice.

There are two very different kinds of far-from-equilibrium conditions: o­ne is associated with the absence of change, and the other with revolutionary change. These two opposite poles act as strange attractorsan expression with which has become familiar since chaos theory has come into vogue.

So we can observe three very different conditions in history: the normal, in which the participants views and the actual state of affairs tend to converge; and two far-from- equilibrium conditions, o­ne of apparent changelessness, in which thinking and reality are very far apart and show no tendency to converge, and o­ne of revolutionary change in which the actual situation is so novel and unexpected and changing so rapidly that the participants views cannot keep up with it.

Equilibrium TheoryReflexivity TheoryInformation becomes immediately available to everyonePeople act o­n incomplete information

People are rational actorsPeople are influenced by their biasesEconomic systems go quickly to equilibriumSocial systems display boom and bust

Scientists should build theories usingquantifiable variablesScientists should use a variety ofdescriptions of systems (e.g., ideas, groups, events, variables)

A theorist is outside the systemObservers are part of the system

observedTheories do not alter the systemTheories are a means to change the system

described

Table 1.Two Theories of Economics (Umpleby, 2008)


Appendix 2 Islam (the following is adapted from Hammond, 2005)


Islam is not a religion nor is it a cult. It is a complete system. Islam has religious, legal, political, economic and military components. The religious component is a beard for all the other components. Islamization occurs when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their so-called 'religious rights.' When politically correct and culturally diverse societies agree to 'the reasonable' Muslim demands for their 'religious rights,' they also get the other components under the table. Here's how it works (percentages source CIA: The World Fact Book (2007)). As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness:

United States -- Muslim 1.0%
Australia -- Muslim 1.5%
Canada -- Muslim 1.9%
China -- Muslim 1%-2%
Italy -- Muslim 1.5%
Norway -- Muslim 1.8%

At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:

Denmark -- Muslim 2%
Germany -- Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom -- Muslim 2.7%
Spain -- Muslim 4%
Thailand -- Muslim 4.6%

From 5% o­n they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. They will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure o­n supermarket chains to feature it o­n their shelves -- along with threats for failure to comply. ( United States ).

France -- Muslim 8%
Philippines -- Muslim 5%
Sweden -- Muslim 5%
Switzerland -- Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands -- Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad &Tobago -- Muslim 5.8%

At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world. When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions ( Paris --car-burnings). Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats ( Amsterdam - Mohammed cartoons).

Guyana -- Muslim 10%
India -- Muslim 13.4%
Israel -- Muslim 16%
Kenya -- Muslim 10%
Russia -- Muslim 10-15%

After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:
Ethiopia -- Muslim 32.8%

At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and o­ngoing militia warfare:

Bosnia -- Muslim 40%
Chad -- Muslim 53.1%
Lebanon -- Muslim 59.7%

From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya, the tax placed o­n infidels:

Albania -- Muslim 70%
Malaysia -- Muslim 60.4%
Qatar -- Muslim 77.5%
Sudan -- Muslim 70%

After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide:

Bangladesh -- Muslim 83%
Egypt -- Muslim 90%
Gaza -- Muslim 98.7%
Indonesia -- Muslim 86.1%
Iran -- Muslim 98%
Iraq -- Muslim 97%
Jordan -- Muslim 92%
Morocco -- Muslim 98.7%
Pakistan -- Muslim 97%
Palestine -- Muslim 99%
Syria -- Muslim 90%
Tajikistan -- Muslim 90%
Turkey -- Muslim 99.8%
United Arab Emirates -- Muslim 96%

100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' -- the Islamic House of Peace -- there's supposed to be peace because everybody is a Muslim:

Afghanistan -- Muslim 100%
Saudi Arabia -- Muslim 100%
Somalia -- Muslim 100%
Yemen -- Muslim 99.9%



Appendix 3.Extracts from Sustainability: The Five Core Principles A New Framework by Michael Ben-Eli,

The Buckminster Fuller Institute,  HYPERLINK "http://bfi-internal.org/sustainability" http://bfi-internal.org/sustainability , accessed June 3rd 2008.

The First Principle, the Material Domain:

Contain entropy and ensure that the flow of resources, through and within the economy, is as nearly non-declining as is permitted by physical laws.

The Second Principle, the Economic Domain:

Adopt an appropriate accounting system, fully aligned with the planets ecological processes and reflecting true, comprehensive biospheric pricing to guide the economy.

The Third Principle, the Domain of Life:

Ensure that the essential diversity of all forms of life in the Biosphere is maintained.

The Fourth Principle, the Social Domain:

Maximize degrees of freedom and potential self-realization of all humans without any individual or group, adversely affecting others.

The Fifth Principle, the Spiritual Domain:

Recognize the seamless, dynamic continuum of mystery, wisdom, love, energy, and matter that links the outer reaches of the cosmos with our solar system, our planet and its biosphere, including all humans, with our internal metabolic systems and their externalized technology extensions - embody this recognition in a universal ethics for guiding human actions.


Appendix 4. o­n values: a consideration of what is afterlife from a secular panpsychic perspective

There are many who in attempting to understand consciousness argue for panpsychism , the view that in some sense the cosmos as a whole is aware and at least, fragmentarily, is also self-aware. It is interesting that the arguments presented are secular, i.e., not promulgated by organised forms of religion. Rather, they draw o­n what is known about the cosmos from the perspective of the natural sciences and what follows from the adoption of certain philosophical positions with respect to the nature of consciousness.


The natural sciences deal with the conundrums of time and eternity at the macro level of the being and becoming of the universe and also attempt to deal with the problem of what is intelligence? and what is consciousness, centred around the question of whether an artificial, conscious intelligence can be created.Some of those who think this research programme cannot be achieved look to panpsychism to account for the awareness found in natural systems and which, we, as conscious beings, subjectively experience. The idea of panpsychism leads to possible secular accounts for what it means for there to be an afterlife and with it, some for of judgement that is experienced by the departing sinner.

Roughly this amounts to the following. At her death, an individuals awareness dissolves into the larger awareness of the cosmos. Along with the dissolution and fragmentation go fragments of dreamlike awareness and experiencing. An individual awareness that has become pure in its love for the whole will merge joyfully into that whole. An individual awareness that is full of impurities, such as anger, bitterness and egoism, will find itself experiencing, albeit fragmentarily and in a dreamlike manner, the processes whereby these negative aspects of what was its psychological being are judged, expunged, purified,The consequences of being negative, sinful, are revealed.This revealing may be experienced as hellish.Indeed, the experience may be vividly real, where the fragmented self may experience itself as eternally damned. Eventually, all awareness returns to where it came from, to enrich and be enriched.In non-secular terms, God reconciles all things to him/herself. The point is that from purely secular arguments based o­n the concept of panpsychism, o­ne can come up with scenarios that warn of judgement and punishment in an afterlife: as you have lived, so you will die.


In o­ne of her visions, the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich asked the Lord Jesus, What about the damned? those o­n the broad path, the unrepentant sinners. The Lord replied, Do not trouble yourself my child. In time, all things are reconciled to God. Take joy that you yourself have chosen the narrow way of my salvation. (Julian of Norwich, 1999).


[1]
Acknowledgement: I wish to thank the members of the discussion list Amerikalistan for educating me about many topics. Regular contributers to the list include Helmut Lubbers ( HYPERLINK "http://ecoglobe.ch/" http://ecoglobe.ch/ ), Peter Salonius, Phil Henshaw ( HYPERLINK "http://www.synapse9.com/" http://www.synapse9.com/ ), Jack Alpert ( HYPERLINK "http://www.skil.org/" http://www.skil.org/and Stanley Salthe ( HYPERLINK "http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/" http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/ ). The list owner is Britt-Marie Lindstr
m. For more information and to subscribe contact  HYPERLINK "" \o "amerikalistan-owner@mg.skola.mark.se" amerikalistan-owner@mg.skola.mark.se.

[1] o­n being an observer: there has to be an observer for there to be a reality for the observer to observe (constructivist position); there is a reality prior to there being an observer (objectivist position).

[1] For more about the life and work of Barry Commoner, see the article in Wikipedia.  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Commoner" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Commoner . Accessed May 29th 2008.

[1] A particularly impassioned statement of Five Core Principles of Sustainability is to be found in Ben Eli (2206). See Appendix 3.

[1] In Appendix 4, I use the concept of panpsychism to set out a possible secular view of how consideration of o­nes afterlife may modify o­nes values.

------------------------------


Dear PeacefromHarmony Board,

I was prompted by Charles Mercieca's recent interesting and suggestive email about good and evil to share some thoughts with you, inspired by my readings in cybernetics.


Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety states that, "Only variety can control variety". A simple interpretation is that in the face of variety within an environment, a system benefits from freedom of action in order to survive. An intelligent system commands and controls variety in its environment by seeing (modelling) the patterns (regularities, lawfulness) in that environment.


As corollaries to Ashby's Law, together with assumptions about the holistic interdependence of human actors as socially constituted beings, Heinz von Foerster states:


"Act so as to maximise the alternatives" and "A is better off when B is better off".


In similar spirit, Gordon Pask writes about the ideal of 'unity without uniformity' and 'the right of actors to interact'. In cybernetic terms, he goes o­n to define evil as 'that which limits the right of actors to interact'.


Clearly these aphoristic admonitions have to be interpreted in context and o­ne has to ask what are the consequences of applying or not applying certain constraints o­n actors' rights to interact.


In a separate email, I have forwarded an email from the Barnabus Fund, a UK based Christian charity. You might like to contemplate the value, worthiness or otherwise of the constraints that any o­ne group within a community places o­n those who choose not to be members of that group. The relationships between Christians and Muslims in a Muslim society (and vice versa) are examples out of many. Consider also the CASTE system in India, the class system in many aspects of European social life, the distinction between communist party members and non-members in China, all the many forms of prejudice between different ethnic groups ...


Best wishes,

Bernard Scott

President, Research Committee 51 o­n Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association.

http://www.unizar.es/sociocybernetics/

PS. Dear Leo, this message is partly in response to your request for some input to discussions from the perspective of Sociocybernetics. Apologies if the addressee list does not include all board members. Please forward as appropriate

 

Februare 5, 2007

------------------------------


2.8. Tetrasociology and sociocybernetics: towards a comparison of the key concepts

Bernd Hornung, Germany; Bernard Scott, UK; Leo Semashko, Russia

Sociocybernetics and tetrasociology are interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional sociological theories rooted in several humanitarian disciplines: philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science, etc. Tetrasociology and sociocybernetics have a common theoretical platform -- the systems approach and sociological theory. Based o­n these, we shall tackle the question of a comparison of sociocybernetics and tetrasociology with the purpose of development and mutual enrichment of these disciplines within the framework of theoretical sociology. Interdisciplinary comparison and research are some of the most important trends in the development of general sociological theory, to which any of its sub-fields can make a contribution. In our brief review we limit ourselves to the two sub-fields mentioned, which differ both in their theoretical foundations and by how long each of them has been around. However, both approaches were brought to life in the context of the informational revolution and globalization, as a response to modern challenges. Now a brief definition of these disciplines is due.

Tetrasociology, or a sociology approaching society and individuals as four-dimensional systems, has been elaborated, using some ideas derived from Western sociology, by L.M.Semashko in Russia in the course of 25 years. However, it was not before 2002 that tetrasociology had come to the attention of Western scholars, when a book about it was first published in English [[1]] and presented at the XVth World Congress of Sociology, which took place in Australia in July, 2002.

Sociocybernetics and its direct predecessors, in contrast to tetrasociology, have been developed by Western academics over the past 50 years, enjoying a high renown and having spawned hundreds of scholarly works. In order to compare tetrasociology and sociocybernetics, we will briefly overview their respective systems of concepts and chart methods for drawing the parallels.

Sociocybernetics is closely connected with systems approach. But historically, Systems Theory and Cybernetics developed in different contexts.  Wiener (1948) first distinguished Cybernetics as a new discipline, the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine, following the successes of mathematicians, engineers and biologists who, in an interdisciplinary exchange, shed light o­n the nature of purposive, goal-seeking behaviour in natural and man-made complex systems.  The phenomenon of negative feedback, involving a circularity of causation, was recognised as a universal feature of such systems, found in the workings of the humble thermostat and in the complex homeostatic processes that maintain the fabric and stability of living systems.

A general theory of systems was independently proposed by Von Bertalanffy (1950).  As a Biologist, Von Bertalanffy and others (notably Weiss) emphasised the holistic nature of the organisation of living systems, captured in the Aristotellian aphorism that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.  Von Bertalanffy is responsible for the distinction between open and closed systems.  In his original definition, the distinction made was in terms of the exchange of matter and energy between the system and its environment.  An open system persists as an organisation whilst engaging in such exchanges.  A closed system is adiabatically sealed from its environment.  In its isolation, it is subject to the second law of thermodynamics: over time its order (organisation) decreases and its disorder (entropy) increases.  According to this definition, a candle flame and a living organism are open systems.

The contribution of Cybernetics was to make a clear distinction between matter and energy, o­n the o­ne hand, and information and control o­n the other.  A candle flame and a living organism are indeed both energetically open systems but the latter has the additional property of defining its own boundaries. It is self‑organising.  From the outset, key thinkers recognised that, underlying the relative differences in emphasis, there is a fundamental unity of interest between Cybernetics and Systems Theory.  As Ashby (1956) phrased it, both are primarily concerned with systems that are open to energy and closed to information and controls.  An informationally closed system adapts to environmental disturbances. In doing so, it can be said to become more informed of its environment. From the perspective of an external observer, certain of its matter‑energy exchange may be seen as carriers of information. The system may be coupled by information exchange with other systems. In this restricted sense, the system, as part of a larger system, is informationally open. What remains intrinsic to it, despite changes due to adaptation, learning, maturation and evolution, is the basic circularity of its organisation: it consists of processes that produce structures that embody those processes.

For the moment, it is sufficient to note that in such a system, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. A disturbance in a part of the system will necessarily affect all other parts of the system. From this brief discussion, it should be clear that Systems Theory and Cybernetics may be used interchangeably as labels for the emerging science that studies the organisation of complex systems. We have a preference for the term Cybernetics because of its historic connection with the need to understand cognition and purpose. Ashby [[2]], for example, is always at pains to make clear the role played by the observers own purposes and interests in determining how a system is to be defined, described and explained[[3]].

Sociocybernetics defined.We define sociocybernetics as Systems Science in Sociology. Systems science, because sociocybernetics is not limited to theory but also includes application, empirical research, methodology, and axiology (i.e. ethics and value research) [[4]]. In sociology, as it deals with sociological theory proper, thus excluding in a first approach the other social sciences like psychology, anthropology, political science, etc. However, it is certainly expandable to the other social sciences. Furthermore, in an attempt to look at sociology from basic concepts, the present discussion focuses o­n First Order Cybernetics rather than o­n the further complications of Second Order Cybernetics.

Systems Science, or more precisely First Order Cybernetics, can be understood according to Wiener´s definition [[5]] as the science of steering and control in the animal and the machine, including human beings and natural machines. The construction of sociology from cybernetics can be based o­n the fundamental idea elaborated elsewhere [[6]] that the world consists at an elementary level of events or processes which are of two kinds, i.e. energetical/material and informational, an idea found (without theoretical justification though) already in the simulation studies of Jay W. Forrester.

Basic concepts of First Order Cybernetics.o­n this background a series of basic cybernetic or systems theoretical concepts is relevant, starting with feedback or circular causality as the basic cybernetic process. The closing of a causal chain provides the basic mechanism for positive (deviation amplification) and negative (deviation reduction) feedback loops. This both at the level of matter/energy, and at the level of information flows or combinations of both. If some kind of measuring device, a so-called comparator (which can be a mechanical device like the flyer in an old steam engine), is added to a negative feedback loop, controlled feedback becomes possible keeping a process close to an average or ideal state. It is control (or feedBACK), if the deviation to be reduced is measured after the event, it becomes steering (or feedFORWARD) if the deviation is anticipated and counter-action induced already before the event (like in driving a car around a curve). More complex set-ups of circular causality are reflexivity, self-reference, self-organization, and autopoiesis.

Regular patterns of such (and other) basic processes can be interpreted as structures, because they are stable over time. In particular so-called micro-processes, in the natural sciences as well as in social systems according to Herbert Simon [[7]], often constitute structures at a higher level. Dynamic systems consequently can be conceived as consisting of a combination of processes and structures. If these are functionally interdependent, functionally cooperating, and, at least to some extent, closed off from the environment by a boundary, such a conglomeration of components, i.e. structures and processes, can be considered a system, i.e. A system is a whole consisting of interdependent parts [[8]].

A system, according to Laszlo [[9]], is characterized by four key properties: (1) Wholeness implying a system boundary, (2) positive feedback loops, (3) negative feedback loops, and (4) a systems hierarchy, i.e. usually a system can be considered as a subsystem of a higher level system (supra-system) and as being composed in its turn of sub-systems and sub-sub-systems etc., as far as the research purpose requires such a differentiation. These basic characteristics of systems according to Laszlo, include two process and two structural properties. The most simple and general functional model of such an open system is the input-output model consisting of an input mechanism, a transducer transforming inputs into outputs and an output mechanism. At the information level the basic scheme is the same, but the transducer is usually called the processor and a memory is added. The input mechanism is called a perceptor and the output mechanism an effector. Looking at the basic modelling components of the early simulation models of Forrester [[10]], we might as well add a memory or rather a storage unit for stocks to the basic material-level input-output model.

Hence with the same basic building blocks it is possible to conceptualize both matter/energy systems (material systems) and information resp. information processing systems (IPS) [[11]], whereby information processing systems are in fact always combinations of material processes and structures and information processes and structures. The latter are not possible without a material substrate, a medium, although it is in many cases possible to abstract from the material basis. Thus it is possible to construct theoretically a coherent cybernetic world of systems and information processing systems which might after all be used to model and analyze even information society.

On the side of sociology proper concepts of sociology and sociocybernetics, the socio- part of sociocybernetics, the situation is much less clear, as so far sociology is characterized by a pluralism of more or less partial and incomplete theories [[12]] along with a number of, more or less historical, attempts at grand theory covering the whole. The most recent o­ne of the latter is doubtlessly the work of Niklas Luhmann [[13]]. Nonetheless, looking at the field of sociology at large, few efforts are visible towards what might be called a systematic sociology [[14]].

A kind of empirical attempt in this direction was presented by Korte and his collaborators who published a series of four books in German intending to cover the field of sociology as introductory texts. The first volume presents a series of basic concepts of sociology which are empirical in the sense that the authors looked at the body of literature of sociology, and in particular at the classics, to identify the basic concepts of sociology.

Both in the case of sociology and in the case of sociocybernetics basic or main concepts are not concepts o­n which most or even all sociologists respectively sociocyberneticians would agree upon,  but just concepts being considered as main concepts by the respective authors o­n the basis of their knowledge of literature and o­n the basis of their own theoretical frameworks. This may be somewhat different in the case of tetrasociology, as the author who developed this theoretical approach speaks for himself in the present paper.

According to Korte and his collaborators there are 28 main concepts of sociology [[15]]. The table below catalogs the concepts of sociology, sociocybernetics, and tetrasociology, respectively.

Table 1: Main Concepts of Sociology, Sociocybernetics, and Tetrasociology

Main Concepts of Sociology

According to Korte et al.

Concepts of Sociocybernetics

(in comparison with 1st column)

Concepts of Tetrasociology[16]

(in comparison with 1st column)

1) Sociology

1) Sociocybernetics

1) Tetrasociology

2) Social Action

2) Social Action, Interaction, Communication

2) Reproductive Employment of the People

3) Norms

3) Orientors, Norms, Basic Orientors, Values

3) Information, Culture

4) Values

-- see 3)

--- see 3)

5) Meaning

4) Meaning, Knowledge

--- see 3)

6) Socialization

5) Socialization, Education, Learning

4) Social Sphere, People Reproduction

7) Person

6) Psychological System, Personality

5) People, Individual, Person

8) Individual

7) Individual, Actor System

--- see 5)

9) Identity

8) (Ego-)Identity

6) Sphere Identity

10) Habitus

--

---

11) Sex/Gender

--

--- see 5)

12) Deviant Behavior

--

---

13) Social Group

9) Social Group

7) Sphere Classes and Groups

14) Institution

10) Institution

8) Organization, Orgsphere, Order

15) Organization

11) Organization

--- see 8)

16) Power

12) Power, Force/Violence

--- see 8)

17) Force/Violence

-- see 12)

--- see 8)

18) (Legitimate) Rule

13) (Legitimate) Rule

--- see 8)

19) Social Constraints

14) Social Constraints

--- see 8)

20) Social Inequality

--   

9) Social Inequality

21) Caste

-- see 15)

---

22) Estate

-- see 15)

---

23) Class

-- see 15)

7) Sphere Classes and Groups

24) Social Stratification and Status

15) Social Stratification/ Status, Class, Estate, Caste

10) Social Stratification

25) Mobility

16) Mobility

11) Mobility

26) Culture

17) Culture

--- see 3)

27) Development

18) Development & Evolution, Social Change

12) Development, Social Genetics

28) Social Structure

19) Social Structure & Process

13) Sphere Structure

Not all main concepts of sociology have correspondences among the main concepts of sociocybernetics and the main concepts of tetrasociology. There remain empty categories. o­n the other hand, both sociocybernetics and tetrasociology include a number of main concepts which are not to be found among the concepts of sociology. Therefore complete lists of the main concepts both of sociocybernetics and of tetrasociology are presented before continuing o­n some more aspects of comparison.

 Table 2: Main Concepts of Sociocybernetics Grouped

The first concept in each line is the main concept followed in some cases by variations or closely related concepts. The numbering is sequential, the numbers behind some of the concepts refer to the respective number in the previous table.

Science:

I Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Meta-Level

II Theory

III Axiology

IV Methodology

V Empirical Research

VI Application

I Meta-Concepts

  1) Sociocybernetics (1)

  2) Events

  3) Process, Flows (18)

  4) Structure (19)

  5) Relations

  6) Causality (circular)

  7) Function, Purpose

  8) Matter/Energy

  9) Information (incl. data)

10) Indeterminism

11) Wholism

II Theory and Axiology

Cultural and Psychological Concepts - Information Structure

12) Culture (17)

13) Symbols, Symbol Systems

14) Orientors, Norms, Basic Orientors, Values (3)

15) Meaning, Knowledge (4)

16) Institution (10)

17) Socialization, Education (5)

18) Legitimation

19) (Ego-)Identity (8)

20) Psychological System, Personality, Individual, Subject (6)

21) Lifestyle, Habitus

Information Processing Concepts - Information Process

22) Emotional System, Feelings

23) Cognition, Perception, Cognitive System

24) Learning

25) Decision-making, incl. Evaluation

Action Concepts - Process

26) Action, Interaction, Behavior (2)

27) Communication, Message

28) Mobility (16)

29) Cooperation, Consensus, Consent

30) Conflict

Social Units - Structural Components

31) Social System, Controlled System, Uncontrolled System (Eco-System Type)

32) Actor System

33) Roles

34) Individual (7)

35) Interaction System

36) Group (9)

37) Organization (11)

38) Collectivity

39) Societal System, Society

Forces and Power - Process

40) Steering and Control

41) Power, Force/Violence, Attractor (12)

42) (Legitimate) Rule (13)

43) Resources

Social (Macro-) Structure and Dynamics - Structure & Process

44) Social Structure and Social Process (19)

45) Constraints (14)

46) Stratification, Status, Class, Estate, Caste (15)

47) Hierarchization, System Hierarchy, Control Hierarchy, Micro-, Meso-, Macro-Level

48) Segmentation

49) Functional Differentiation and Subsystems, Social Spheres

50) Development, Evolution, Social Change (18)

Specific Sociocybernetic Concepts  - Structure and Process

51) Boundary/border

52) Environment

53) Input/Transformation/Output

54) Feedback/Feedforward (pos./neg.)

55) Openness/Closure

56) Requisite Variety

57) Self-Organization, Autopoiesis, Self-Reference

58) Observation, Observer

59) Reflexivity

60) Complexity

61) Emergence, Synergy

62) Stabilization, Homeostasis/Morphostasis/Morphogenesis

63) Adaptation

64) Sustainability

Table 3: Main Concepts of  Tetrasociology Grouped

Meta-Concepts:

1)Tetrasociology (1)

2)Postpluralism

3)Pluralism

4)Monism

Generic Concepts:

5)Reproductive Employment (2), Sphere Classes of Population (7), Social Energy

6)Social Resources (Resources of Reproduction)

7)Social  Processes (Processes of Reproduction)

8)Social Structures (Structures of Reproduction, Spheres of Reproduction and Employment) (13)

9)SocialStates, Development, Evolution (States of Reproduction) (12)

10)Social Space-Time, Social World, Society, The Social

Specific Concepts:

            Resources:

11)People, Individual, Person  (5)

12)Information, Culture (3)

13)Organization, Orgsphere, Order (8)

14)Things (Social Matter)

 Processes:

15)Production

16)Distribution

17)Exchange

18)Consumption

Structures:

19)Social (Humanitarian) Sphere of Reproduction (Sociosphere)

20)Informational (Cultural, Spiritual) Sphere of Reproduction (Infosphere)

21)Organizational (Political, Managerial) Sphere of Reproduction (Orgsphere)

22)Technical (Material, Economical) Sphere of Reproduction (Technosphere)

            States:

23) Prosperity (12)

24)Deceleration (12)

25)Decline (12)

26)Dying (12)

Sphere Classes:

27) Social (Humanitarian) Class of Population (Socioclass)

28)Informational Class of Population (Infoclass)

29)Organizational Class of Population (Orgclass)

30)Technical Class of Population (Technoclass)

Table 3.1: Main Concepts of  Tetrasociology Grouped

SOCIAL SPACE - TIME (SOCIAL WORLD, SOCIETY, THE  SOCIAL)

PROCESSES

RESOURCES

STRUCTURES

STATES

Production

R

-

EMPLOUMENT

People

Sociosphere

Prosperity

Distribution

Information/Culture

Infosphere

Deceleration

Exchange

Organization

Orgsphere

Decline

Consumption

Things

Technosphere

Dying

S   P   H   E    R    E

C   L   A   S  S   E   S         OF           THE         P  O  P  U   L   A   T   I    O    N

SOCIO

CLASS  (Teacher, doctors, social workers; not working .)

INFO

CLASS (Scientific, artists, journalists, engineers, programmers )

ORG

CLASS (Politics, lawyers, military men, managers, financiers )

TECHNO

CLASS (Working class, peasants / farmers)

Note: Reproductive employment of the people coincides with the contents of the sphere classes. Therefore the given concepts are identical and considered as o­ne concept, though they differ as a subject (sphere classes) and its intrinsic quality (reproductive employment), which is not separated from it. In total the 26 main tetrasociologys concepts are reflected in the table, except for meta-concepts. All other tetrasociological concepts are derived from them.

Table 4: Main Concepts of Sociology Grouped

(according to Korte et al.)

Meta-Concepts

1) Sociology

Action Concepts

2) Social action

10) Habitus (or Culture)

12) Deviant behavior

Cultural Concepts

3) Norms

4) Values

5) Meaning

6) Socialization

26) Culture

Person-Related Concepts

7) Person

8) Individual

9) Identity

Social Units

13) Social Group

14) Institution

15) Organization

Forces and Power

16) Power

17) Force/violence

18) (Legitimate) Rule

Collectivities/(Macro-)Categories

11) Sex/Gender

21) Caste

22) Estate

23) Class

24) Social stratification and status

Social (Macro-) Structures and Processes

19) Social constraints

20) Social inequality

25) Mobility

27) Development

28) Social structure

A brief review like this o­ne is not intended for a detailed comparison of the conceptual frameworks of sociology, sociocybernetics, and tetrasociology. The purpose of this overview is limited to demonstrating the very complex, interdisciplinary problem of comparison of the concepts systems to provide a first idea of how sociological, sociocybernetic, and Tetrasociological concepts and theories relate to each other.  Cataloging and grouping the main concepts of these different theoretical approaches, we create the preconditions necessary for more thorough and detailed comparisons. In the following will point to certain aspects of interdisciplinary analysis of the problem of drawing parallels between the concepts analyzed will be pointed out.

First, the theories appear to share some concepts, their meaning being nearly identical: individuum/personality, culture/information, organization/institution, social structure, groups/classes, action/process, development. Each of the theories considers these concepts as pivotal. The three theoretical approaches investigated seem to have a core of similar key concepts. Other concepts, either diverging or intersecting, form the distinctive character of each approach. Thus, the main problem in drawing parallels is to determine which concepts are common or shared. This is the corner-stone of such comparisons. If there are no common concepts, then there is not much point in a comparison.

Second, sociology and sociocybernetics, as disciplines with a long history, are approached from standpoints of those scholars who are being quoted. This means that other authors may have a different interpretation of these disciplines. As for tetrasociology, because it is new, it is presented in the version of its founder, which does not rule out the possibility of different interpretations in the future. 

Third, sociology, as the older and more fundamental discipline, serves as the common ground for comparing sociocybernetics and tetrasociology as particular theoretical approaches and new trends developing in sociology, albeit with integrationist, interdisciplinary and systemic ambitions.

Fourth, such a term as "main concept" turns out to be very dubious and vague. What are the criteria to determine what concepts are to be considered "main" in an academic discipline? There can be a multitude of such criteria. Every discipline identifies its own set of "main" concepts, and they are different in psychology, economics, philosophy, etc.  Moreover, what is considered to be main by an author also depends to some extent o­n the kinds of problems he is interested in and which he wants to deal with by using theoretical concepts. The problem influences which concepts are most useful and which o­nes are irrelevant. Also, the "main" concepts of a discipline can be identified with regard to different levels of abstraction (e.g. systems or people) or different levels of aggregation (e.g. individual or society). The existence of a large number of the criteria for identifying "main" concepts makes the task difficult. In our context, the "main" concepts are identified from the viewpoints of some authors representing the respective approaches and as a result of their self-evaluation and self-examination.

Fifth, the grouping of concepts, too, proceeds along different lines and o­n different  foundations. The problem of comparing tetrasociology and sociocybernetics with regard to groups of concepts calls for an extensive separate analysis. In most general terms, the main distinction between sociocybernetics and tetrasociology lies in the following concepts: In sociocybernetics, the central concepts are structure, process, information, organization,feedforwardand feedback.

Tetrasociology's central concepts are resources, processes and spheres of reproduction, reproductive

employment (employment sphere classes).

Determining to what degree these concepts are (in)compatible is o­ne of the major issues of this comparative analysis.

Sixth, it is obvious that each system of concepts is limited. Hence they complement each other to some extent. But the question of how, to what degree, and in what respect this is the case is very complex and calls for a separate study.

To conclude, sociocybernetics and tetrasociology have many common theoretical foundations: Sociology, systems approach, multi-dimensionality, interdisciplinarity, etc. However, they also have conspicuous differences. These differences, while conducive to mutual enrichment in some instances, in others give rise to contradictions. Contradictions are normal in any science's evolution, including the social sciences. They are a big stimulus for the progress both of sociocybernetics and tetrasociology, including a possible future synthesis generating a new paradigm. Comparing scientific approaches and disciplines is a very difficult task, but formulating and tackling this problem, although being but o­ne step in the development of social sciences, is conducive to a rise of new, productive ideas.

Dr Bernd R.Hornung

Philipps-University Marburg, Germany

President, Research Committee 51

(on Sociocybernetics) of the International Sociological Association

Dr Bernard Scott,

Cranfield University, Royal Military College of Science, UK

Board Member, Research Committee 51
(on Sociocybernetics) of the International Sociological Association


[1])Semashko, Leo.Tetrasociology, Responses to Challenges, Technical University,  St. Petersburg, 2002.

 [2]) Ashby, W.R..Introduction to Cybernetics,New York: Wiley, 1956

[3])Scott, Bernard. (2000). Cybernetic explanation and development,Kybernetes, 29, 7/8, pp. 966-994

[4]) Cf. GEYER, Felix; VAN DIJKUM, Cor (eds.): Newsletter 7, ISA - International Sociological Association, Research Committee 51 o­n Sociocybernetics (RC 51), in: Journal of Sociocybernetics, vol. 4, no. 1 January 1999, contributions pp. 11-28; available at http://www.unizar.es/sociocybernetics.

[5]) WIENER, Norbert: Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, MIT Press, Cambridge Mass. 1994.

[6]) Cf. HORNUNG, Bernd R.: Sociocultural Evolution, Towards the Merging of Material and Informational Evolution, in: ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONALE DE CYBERNETIQUE (AIC) (ed.): 14th International Congress o­n Cybernetics, Namur (Belgium), August 21st-25th 1995, Proceedings, pp. 867-872, AIC, Namur 1995; HORNUNG, Bernd R.: Towards a Sociology of Process and Information, Information, Communication, Knowledge, and Action in a Constructivist Approach, Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference o­n Sociocybernetics, Leon, Mexico, June 24th - July 1st, 2001, unpublished conference paper, 2001; HORNUNG, Bernd R.: EMERGENCE - A Key Concept for Sociocybernetic Theory of Information Society, Paper presented at the 15th World Congress of Sociology, Brisbane, July 8-13, 2002, RC51 o­n Sociocybernetics, Session 13, unpublished conference paper, 2002.

[7]) SIMON, Herbert A.: La science des systèmes, Science de l'artificiel, Orig.: The Sciences of the Artificial, Epi s.a. éditeurs, Paris 1974.

[8]) A description of the entire systemsparadigmis given in HORNUNG, Bernd R.: Grundlagen einer problemfunktionalistischen Systemtheorie gesellschaftlicher Entwicklung, (Foundations of a Problem-functionalist Systems Theory of Development), Verlag Peter Lang, Bern, Frankfurt/M., New York, Paris, Wien 1988, pp. 33-39; HORNUNG, Bernd R.: Sociocultural Evolution, op. cit.

[9]) LASZLO, Ervin: Introduction to Systems Philosophy, Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought, Harper & Row, New York, London 1973, pp. 36-47.

[10]) FORRESTER, Jay W.: Grundsätze einer Systemtheorie, Orig.: Principles of Systems, Th. Gabler, (Wright Allen Press), Wiesbaden, (Cambridge Mass.) 1972 (1968).

[11]) Cf. MILLER, James G.: Living Systems, McGraw Hill, New York 1978.

[12]Scott, B. (2001). "Cybernetics and the Social Sciences", Systems Research, 18, pp. 411-420.

[13]) E.g. LUHMANN, Niklas: Social Systems, Stanford University Press, Stanford 1995.

[14]) o­ne of these is SIEBEL, Wiegand: Einführung in die systematische Soziologie, (Introduction to Systematic Sociology), Verlag C.H. Beck, München 1984.

[15]) KORTE, Hermann; SCHÄFERS, Bernhard (eds.): Einführung in Hauptbegriffe der Soziologie, (Introduction to Main Concepts of Sociology), Einführungskurs Soziologie, Bd. I, 5. Aufl., UTB, Bd., 8063, Leske + Budrich, Leverkusen, Opladen 2000, pp. 7, 9.

[16]) Asimilar system of 26 sociological concepts in the form of a web was created by Bernard Phillips in the framework of his Web Approach: PHILLIPS, Bernard: Beyond Sociology's Tower of Babel, Reconstructing the Scientific Method, Aldine de Gruyter, Hawthorne, NY, 2001, p. 27, figures 1-3, p. 24. The inclusion of this in the present comparison of systems of sociological concepts would be very interesting and productive for further development of the respective theories but it would require a much more encompassing analysis.

Read more: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=160




Up
© Website author: Leo Semashko, 2005; © designed by Roman Snitko, 2005