The Cybernetic Brain

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-04-15
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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Cybernetics is often thought of as a grim military or industrial science of control. But as Andrew Pickering reveals in this beguiling book, a much more lively and experimental strain of cybernetics can be traced from the 1940s to the present. The Cybernetic Brainexplores a largely forgotten group of British thinkers, including Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, Stafford Beer, and Gordon Pask, and their singular work in a dazzling array of fields. Psychiatry, engineering, management, politics, music, architecture, education, tantric yoga, the Beats, and the sixties counterculture all come into play as Pickering follows the history of cybernetics' impact on the world, from contemporary robotics and complexity theory to the Chilean economy under Salvador Allende. What underpins this fascinating history, Pickering contends, is a shared but unconventional vision of the world as ultimately unknowable, a place where genuine novelty is always emerging. And thus, Pickering avers, the history of cybernetics provides us with an imaginative model of open-ended experimentation in stark opposition to the modern urge to achieve domination over nature and each other.

Author Biography

Andrew Pickering is professor and chair of sociology at the University of Exeter. He is the author of several books, including Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics and The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
The Adaptive Brainp. 1
Ontological Theaterp. 17
Psychiatry to Cybernetics
Grey Walter: From Electroshock to the Psychedelic Sixtiesp. 37
The Tortoise and the Brainp. 41
Tortoise Ontologyp. 48
Tortoises as Not-Brainsp. 52
The Social Basis of Cyberneticsp. 54
Rodney Brooks and Roboticsp. 60
Cora and Machina Docilisp. 64
Cyber-Netics and Madnessp. 67
Strange Performancesp. 73
Flickerp. 76
Flicker and the Sixtiesp. 78
Biofeedback and New Musicp. 83
Ross Ashby: Psychiatry, Synthetic Brains, and Cyberneticsp. 91
The Pathological Brainp. 94
Ashby's Hobbyp. 97
The Homeostatp. 101
The Homeostat as Ontological Theaterp. 105
The Social Basis of Ashby's Cyberneticsp. 112
Design for a Brainp. 115
Damsp. 122
Madness Revisitedp. 131
Adaptation, War, and Societyp. 139
Cybernetics as a Theory of Everthingp. 145
Cybernetics and Epistemologyp. 149
A New Kind of Science: Alexander, Kauffman, and Wolframp. 156
Gregory Bateson and R. D. Laing: Symmetry, Psychiatry, and the Sixtiesp. 171
Gregory Batesonp. 173
Schizophrenia and Enlightenmentp. 175
Therapyp. 179
As Nomadp. 180
R. D. Laingp. 183
On Therapyp. 186
Kingsley Hallp. 191
Archwayp. 195
Coupled Becomings, Inner Voyages, Aftermathp. 198
Psychiatry and the Sixtiesp. 204
Ontology, Power, and Revealingp. 210
Beyond the Brain
Stafford Beer: From the Cybernetic Factory to Tantric Yogap. 215
From Operations Research to Cyberneticsp. 220
Toward the Cybernetic Factoryp. 223
Biological Computingp. 231
Ontology and Designp. 234
The Social Basis of Beer's Cyberneticsp. 237
The Afterlife of Biological Computingp. 240
The Viable System Modelp. 243
The VSM as Ontology and Epistemologyp. 250
The VSM in Practicep. 253
Chile: Project Cybersynp. 256
The Politics of the VSMp. 261
The Political Critique of Cyberneticsp. 264
On Goalsp. 269
The Politics of Interacting Systemsp. 274
Team Syntegrityp. 278
Cybernetics and Spiritualityp. 283
Hylozoismp. 285
Tantrismp. 290
Brian ENO and New Musicp. 302
Gordon Pask: From Chemical Computers to Adaptive Archictecturep. 309
Musicolourp. 313
The History of Musicolourp. 317
Musicolour and Ontologyp. 319
Ontology and Aestheticsp. 321
The Social Basis of Pask's Cyberneticsp. 324
Training Machinesp. 325
Teaching Machinesp. 329
Chemical Computersp. 334
Threadsp. 336
New Sensesp. 341
The Epistemology of Cybernetic Researchp. 343
Cas, Social Science, and F-22sp. 346
The Arts and the Sixtiesp. 347
Cybernetic Theaterp. 348
Cybernetic Serendipityp. 353
The Social Basis Againp. 361
The Fun Palacep. 364
After the Sixties: Adaptive Architecturep. 371
Sketches of Another Futurep. 379
Themes from the History of Cyberneticsp. 380
Ontologyp. 380
Designp. 382
Powerp. 382
The Artsp. 384
Selvesp. 384
Spiritualityp. 385
The Sixtiesp. 387
Altered Statesp. 387
The Social Basisp. 388
Sketches of Another Futurep. 390
Notesp. 403
Referencesp. 479
Indexp. 503
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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