(Re)Sensing the Observer
Offering an Open Order Cybernetics

Andrea Gaugusch & Bill Seaman

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I would say, first-order cybernetics is the cybernetics of observed systems, while second-order cybernetics is the cybernetics of observing systems. (…) When taking the latter position one develops notions like “closure”, “self-organization”, “self-reference”, “self”, “auto-poiesis”, “autonomy”, “responsibility”, etc., etc. (Heinz von Foerster, 2003, p. 303)


Instead of presuming the “observer” as given, we are (re)sensing the observer and are thereby offering an “Open Order Cybernetics” (OOC). We are first of all concerned about our acquisition and use of language as the precondition for any meaningful statement. This self-reflexive point of departure distinguishes our project from philosophers who are presuming “something” (“closure”, “self-organization”, “self”, “auto-poiesis”, “senses”, “objects”, “subjects”, “language”, “nervous-systems” etc., etc.) in the first place without being aware of their presumptions i.e., that they are able to already talk meaningfully about “something”. We are undertaking a self-reflexive loop towards our already undertaken “meaningful” actions, reflecting inside of our concepts on our concepts, trying to find out how our concepts about “something” have come into existence. We are reflecting on our concepts through this on-going open investigation. We are sketching the ramifications of such a self-reflexive loop for epistemology as well as for the main research-areas within cognitive science (i.e. language-acquisition, perception, consciousness). We are also pointing towards virtual reality in combination with the arts as an awareness-aid, helping us in our self-reflexive endeavors.

Keywords: 2nd order cybernetics, linguistics, conception, consciousness, arts and virtual reality