Cybernetic Anthropology

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Cybernetic anthropology is a cognitive science department that combines anthropology and cybernetics with technology-induced theory formation.

The term goes back to a work by the German cyberneticist and information theorist Karl Steinbuch from 1961, in which he states "the penetration of mathematical tools into areas of knowledge in which they have previously not appeared practicable". The new department of cybernetic anthropology started with the plan to overcome the contradiction between the natural sciences and the humanities through a third culture (based on Charles Percy Snow's catchphrase of the " two cultures ") .

The ability to combine a mathematical-technical discipline with human science is controversial. The German media and cultural theorist Stefan Rieger justified it in 2003 as follows: “The applicability of cybernetics and its figures to anthropology, of all things, has its epistemic place less in technology than in the formation of anthropological constructs, in the formation of anthropological knowledge and ultimately in the formation of the human being ”.

Current approaches, as represented by Rieger, apply cybernetic anthropology to media studies.

See also


  • Benjamin Pauwels: Cinema - People - Cybernetics. About the complex effects of the play of light. 3. Edition. VVB, Giessen 2008, ISBN 978-3-89687-289-0 .
  • Claus Pias (Ed.): Cybernetics - Cybernetics. The Macy Conferences 1946-1953. Diaphanes, Zurich / Berlin 2003; Volume 1: Transactions - Protocols ; Volume 2: Essays and Documents .
  • Stefan Rieger : Cybernetic Anthropology. A story of virtuality. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2003, ISBN 3-518-29280-3 ( review at
  • Karl Steinbuch : Automat and Human. On the way to a cybernetic anthropology. 4th, revised edition. Springer, Berlin a. a. 1971, ISBN 0-387-05154-6 (original 1961).

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