Reconceiving Cybernetics in Light of Thomistic Realism
John T. Laracy, Fr. Joseph R. Laracy
Since its origins in the early twentieth century as a transdisciplinary approach connecting the fields of electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, dynamical systems theory, logic and discrete mathematical modeling, neuroscience, and other disciplines, cybernetics has greatly expanded in scope, addressing salient issues across the disciplinary spectrum, including the social sciences and the humanities. One of its most significant interactions has been with twentieth century philosophy. Contemporary second-order cybernetics research engages issues in cognitive science, epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, ethics, and other fields. Working from the perspective of Thomistic realism, as represented by Étienne H. Gilson and Stanley L. Jaki, this paper presents both a metaphysical and epistemological critique of cybernetics, as traditionally conceived, and attempts to recover some of its key insights and practices in light of new first principles.