Gotthard Guenther's Claim for a Cybernetics of Volition

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:29
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Karl-Heinz SIMON, Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
In the analysis of many real-world problems the gap between knowledge and behavior / action is recognized. From a philosophical point of view such a gap is not a surprise because of the influential Cartesian tradition in which mind and body, reason and will are strictly separated. Beside others, G Guenther broke with that tradition and claims for cybernetics to adopt a crucial role in solving social and political problems (1971/1979), going hand in hand with a closer connection of Reason and Will. He states that cognition and volition are two exactly complementary aspects of subjectivity.

Both aspects can be interpreted as forming a feedback loop:  environment – (cognition) - subject - (volition) - environment. The different interfaces are identical with a change in structural form, a structural upgrading. The subject is urged to act in a situation which is not fully determined by the environment. What does that mean when that situation is characterized as of a higher structural complexity? A possible answer should refer to information processing in the subject’s part of the loop, e.g. reflections on the future of circumstances which cannot be extracted from purely objective facts. Another crucial problem is about the differentiation of “subjectivity” or the general subject in manifold interacting subjectivities.

Some interesting consequences of such a concept of feedback will be discussed. However, Guenther goes one step further and tries to develop a calculus representing these interfaces that link cognition with volition. It is centered around a principal exchangeability of form (subjectivity) and the material content of form (objectivity). According to the change in structural form a new operator is introduced, called “proemial” relationship, which “represents a peculiar interlocking of exchange and order”, thereby relativizing the difference between form and matter. A first impression of how the calculus works will be presented.