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Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...


Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory and purposive systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. The core concept of the discipline is circular causality or feedback—that is, where the outcomes of actions are taken as inputs for further action. Cybernetics is concerned with such processes however they are embodied, including in environmental, technological, biological, cognitive, and social systems, and in the context of practical activities such as designing, learning, managing, and conversation.

Cybernetics has its origins in the intersection of the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, and psychology in the 1940s, often attributed to the Macy Conferences. Since then, cybernetics has become even broader in scope to include work in domains such as design, family therapy, management and organisation, pedagogy, sociology, and the creative arts. At the same time, questions arising from circular causality have been explored in relation to the philosophy of science, ethics, and constructivist approaches. Contemporary cybernetics thus varies widely in scope and focus, with cyberneticians variously adopting and combining technical, scientific, philosophical, creative, and critical approaches.


SPIEGEL: But then there really would have to be the famous impetus from outside, from a god or whomever. So thinking, of its own accord and self sufficiently, can no longer be effective today? It was, in the opinion of people in the past, and even, I believe, in our opinion.

HEIDEGGER: But not directly.

SPIEGEL: We have already named Kant, Hegel, and Marx as great movers. But impulses came from Leibniz, too – for the development of modern physics and therefore for the origin of the modern world in general. We believe you said just now that you do not expect such an effect today any more.

HEIDEGGER: No longer in the sense of philosophy. The role philosophy has played up to now has been taken over by the sciences today. To sufficiently clarify the “effect” of thinking, we must have a more in-depth discussion of what effect and effecting can mean here. For this, careful differentiations need to be made between cause, impulse, support, assistance, hindrance, and cooperation. But we can only gain the appropriate dimension to make these differentiations if we have sufficiently discussed the principle of sufficient reason. Philosophy dissolves into the individual sciences: psychology, logic, and political science.

SPIEGEL: And what takes the place of philosophy now?

HEIDEGGER: Cybernetics.

SPIEGEL: Or the pious one who remains open?

HEIDEGGER: But that is no longer philosophy.

SPIEGEL: What is it then?

HEIDEGGER: I call it the other thinking.

SPIEGEL: You call it the other thinking. Would you like to formulate that a little more clearly?

HEIDEGGER: Were you thinking of the sentence with which I conclude my lecture on “The Question Concerning Technology”: “For questioning is the piety of thinking”?

SPIEGEL: We found a statement in your lectures on Nietzsche that seems to us appropriate. You say there: “Because the greatest possible bond prevails in philosophical thinking, all great thinkers think the same thing. However this sameness is so essential and rich that no one individual can exhaust it, but rather everyone binds everyone else more rigorously.” It appears, however, that in your opinion this philosophical structure has come to a certain end.

HEIDEGGER: Has ended but has not become for us invalid; rather it is again present in conversation. My whole work in lectures and seminars during the past thirty years has been mainly simply an interpretation of Western philosophy. The way back into the historical foundations of thinking, thinking through the questions that have not been asked since Greek philosophy – this is not breaking away from tradition. But I say that traditional meta-physics’ way of thinking, which ends with Nietzsche, no longer offers us any possibility to experience the fundamental characteristics of the technological age, an age that is only beginning, through thinking.


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