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The Process from Observed Systems to Observing Systems (Jutoran)

The Process from Observed Systems to Observing Systems (Jutoran)



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Published by: telecult on Apr 01, 2008
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Lic. Sara B. Jutoran M.F.T.
I, Sara B. Jutoran M.F.T. hereby authorize Dr.Honggang Yang, Dean of NovaUniversity, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, to include thispaper on the University web as a resource for their students.November 25, 2005
Lic. Sara B. Jutoran M.T.F.
It is the
theory that decideswhat we can observe” 
Albert Einstein
The translation from spanish into english of the paper ”TheProcess of Systemic - Cybernetic Ideas” has given me theopportunity to connect with different experiences.In this case, a plus was added to the many ways of reading apaper, as I was reading my past production 10 years later:content and process, past and present ways of understanding,reflecting on differences.Ten years ago I was still writing
living systems, not yettotally feeling as a member of a community of observers.
During one of Humberto Maturana’s visits as professor at theInstituto de Terapia Sistémica, I said to him “Every time youcome, you take out a piece of the floor where I’m standing. I’mscared; there’s no floor left.”. A full and tense silence followedand then he very calmly replied “
but, how much freedom!
”.Today I find myself immersed in the natural flow of these ideasinternalized as a constitutive part of daily life. It is aconstant learning experience of growing freedom connected to theacceptance of amplified uncertainties.In this translation- revision some ideas have been added and/orchanged.
I want to thank Bruce Gorden, MFT, for his dedicated collaboration in therevision of this paper english translation
In the present paper I intend to describe some of thefounding systemic cybernetic ideas starting from the second half of the XXth century up to the present.I have therefore limited the focus to what I consider the morerepresentative concepts of General Systems Theory, CommunicationTheory and Cybernetics, plus the important contributions of renowned scientists such as Gregory Bateson, Heinz von Foerster and Humberto Maturana, who, I consider, constitute the spine of systemic- cybernetic thinking.
In the second half of the XXth century, the scientific fieldhas started to be enriched with a new
embedded inepistemological premises that differ substantially fromtraditional thinking.The word “epistemology” derives from the greek root
 which means to stand above, and is defined as a treaty or theoryof knowledge (
). Different criteria have been applied to theconcept of epistemology. Traditionally, it was often considered abranch of Philosophy, dealing with scientific knowledge.Von Foerster presents the question
where does knowledge come from?
 in order to define an ontogenetic position, or “
theory of knowledge acquisition
, to differentiate it from an ontologicalposition assumed by the traditional theory of knowledge. “In fact,Greek has in its vocabulary several words on knowing with variousshades of meaning.
, for instance, refers to a seeking ofknowledge, that is, knowledge acquisition through cognitiveprocesses;
is knowledge acquisition by doing and acting;and
is to become skilled in a craft. The great Swiss‘genetic epistemologist’ Jean Piaget combines
gnosis and praxis
 as a necessary condition for knowledge acquisition." (25). VonFoerster considers himself very fond of one of Piaget’s openingsentences in a famous debate with Noam Chomsky where Piagetdefines conceptualization as recursively operating sensory-motorprocesses.(25)According to Bradford Keeney (8) epistemology exits the fieldof Philosophy to enter into the field of Biology through the workof contemporary experimental biologists such as Mc.Culloch,Lettvin, Maturana, Varela and von Foerster.(...) Mc.Cullochdefined it(...) as “experimental epistemology ” (8), consideringthat “in the sociocultural domain, epistemology is equivalent tothe study of how people or people systems know things and how theythink they know things.” For Bateson it is “a branch of sciencecombined with a branch of philosophy. As science, epistemology isthe study of how particular organisms or aggregates of organisms
know, think
, and
. As a philosophy, epistemology is thestudy of the necessary limits and other characteristics of theprocesses of knowing, thinking, and deciding." (2).At the present time, epistemology, from this point of view, isfocusing on
we know, that is,
the properties of theobserver 
; instead of
we know, that is,
the properties of theobserved 
The second position belongs to what is consideredobjective knowledge in traditional science.

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