Second-Order Cybernetics

  • 1960~1970
  • application of Cybernetics onto itself
  • Heinz von Foerster's definition:
    • first-order - observed systems
    • second-order - observing systems

second-order cybernetics refers to the practice of cybernetics where cyberneticians understand themselves to be part of the system they study. This is strongly associated with Heinz von Foerster

  • is Self-Cybernetics a Second-Order Cybernetics?
    • or even higher, since the cyberneticians not only understand that they part of the loop, but also changes the loop based on the feedback from that loop?
  • Conversation Theory was one of shaping ideas for Second-Order Cybernetics

(...) a brain is required to write a theory of a brain. From this follows that a theory of the brain, that has any aspirations for completeness, has to account for the writing of this theory. And even more fascinating, the writer of this theory has to account for her or himself

— Heinz von Foerster