The New Science of Cybernetics: A Primer
Karl H. Müller
Four years after the publication of the first volume on the new science of cybernetics (NSC) (Müller, 2009) and after two more books on NSC (Müller, 2011, 2012) it is time to present and to summarize the main features and characteristics of the new science of cybernetics within a single article.
- Historically, the new science of cybernetics can be viewed as a potential outline of Heinz von Foerster’s vision of second-order cybernetics as the science of observing systems or, alternatively, of living systems by living systems for living systems. Heinz von Foerster introduced the concept of second-order cybernetics on several occasions, without specifying, however, its content and cognitive organization (Foerster, 1974, 2003)
- Systematically, the new science of cybernetics operates on a new level which, not quite unexpectedly and surprisingly, can be characterized as second-order level. This second-order level is self-reflexive by nature and by design, because this level comes into play whenever a concept, a model or an academic field turns onto itself, like in understanding or in cybernetics of cybernetics.
- Functionally, the new science of cybernetics can be viewed as a trans- or post-disciplinary second-order field for navigating through an ocean of first-order level science. NSC operates primarily with objects or with operations from first-order science and transforms them into new components which exhibit strong comparative advantages in terms of novelty and robustness.
This list of historic, systemic and functional features of the new science of cybernetics(NSC) may look strange or incomprehensible at first sight. It will become, thus, the main purpose of this article to transform these seemingly vague and unclear descriptions into concise ones which readers with only a weak familiarity with the old science of cybernetics can understand. Eventually, even the short set above of critical characteristics of the new science of cybernetics should change into a clear overall summary of NSC, once a reader has finished this article and turns, once more, to its beginnings.