Second order cybernetics

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Second order cybernetics refers to a progressive intellectual movement in cybernetics that goes back to Heinz von Foerster . He derives a theory from the generation of subjective realities in the nervous system , which in its extreme form as observation of observation ( observation of the second order ) eliminates the concept of an objective reality and instead describes the “ eigenvalue ” of the cognitive system as the result of recursion processes.

But at least the observer of a system, if understood as part of it, must be included in the description and explanation of the system.


  • Heinz von Foerster: Cybernetics of Cybernetics, The Control of Control and the Communication of Communication - Original edition prepared by the students enrolled in the 'Cybernetics of Cybernetics', a course during the Fall Semester 1973 through the Spring Semester of 1974 at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois. 2nd Edition. Future Systems Inc., Minneapolis (Minn.) 1995, ISBN 978-0-9647044-0-4 .
  • Francis Heylighen & Cliff Joslyn: Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics. Entry in the Encyclopedia of Physical Science & Technology (PDF; 218 kB)