Plastir Number 26 – 03/2012


Soren BRIER is professor of semiotics applied to cognitive sciences, information and communication at the Business School of Copenhagen (CBS, Denmark). Ph.D in information sciences from the University of Copenhagen, he supported in 2006 a Doctor habil thesis in philosophy, Cybersemiotics: Why Information Is Not Enough ? Soren Brier is also the founder and editor in- chief of the review Cybernetics & Human Knowing, published since 1992 and the cofounder of “The International Association for Biosemiotic Studies” since 2005 which announced the American Society for Cybernetics. Member of the office of the “Sociocybernetics Group” (ISA) and of the “International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics”, he received several prestigious prices (Systems Research Foundation, Warren McCulloch Award from the American Society for Cybernetics) for his important contribution to the emancipation of cybernetics and semiotics. Among his many subjects of research, in addition to those quoted above, autopoïesis, auto-organization and systems theory, cognitive and language sciences, bio-semiotics, artificial intelligence, philosophy of the mind, of nature and of knowledge, all subjects being amply evoked in this paper through Pierce and Luhman’s approaches, intersubjectivity, ontology, spiritualities and the body-mind relations. We are thus plunged at the heart of transdisciplinarity, in front of a non-encyclopaedic knowledge, but a basically plastic one, transverse one, embracing the whole systems of knowledge without privileging one compared to the other of them, crossing the disciplinary bodies briskly to distil the best. And it is naturally by a cross approach of cybernetics and semiotics, by a reallocation of the information sciences that Brier operates by creating the cybersemiotics one. The fundamental question which is put is the following one “How can we believe the sciences’ view that the physical universe is governed by universal and deterministic laws and at the same time base our democracy on a view of the human subject as having an experiential consciousness with a free will? And the Brier’s answer is: “Today science tells us that we are products of the universe through the fundamental process of evolution. New developments in the scientific world view demonstrate that chance and non-linearity are fundamental aspects of reality. Mechanical systems are minor, special types of systems. Furthermore cybernetics and systems theory demonstrate how physicochemical systems can self-organize. Maturana and Varela’s theory of autopoiesis shows how living systems self-organise into closed systems to preserve the individual survival. Luhmann has generalized this biological idea to also work for the psyche and socio-communicative systems. But only C.S. Peirce’s triadic and pragmaticist semiotics gives us a framework where signification and interpretation becomes crucial in our basic understanding of an evolutionary world. Cybersemiotics exemplifies this. As this paper will show, it combines Peirce and Luhmann’s insights in diametrical opposition to mechanistic models of the universe and constructs a transdisciplinary naturalistic non-dualistic framework that extends our conception of reality in the same direction as the work on a transdisciplinary world view of Basarab Nicolescu.” We can only agree and plunge ourselves in the Bier’s universe, who, after have shown to us the limit of the physicalist determinism, develops a new paradigm binding knowledge and reality, introducing not only basic concepts such as the triple autopoïesis or exosemiotics, but also an epistemic modelling of the social systems produced by the embodied or enacted mind according to Varela: the cybersemiotic star, whose four branches connect the life to the significance and energy of consciousness. The phenomenology of Brier is primarily “phaneroscopic”, naturalist and ternary, within the meaning of Pierce. He dissociates Cartesianism and locates the intersubjective, socio-linguistics, intentional, cultural and evolutionist limits of any heuristic theory of the human consciousness. Finally, he shows that cybersemiotics represents a new way of transdisciplinary approach of the information theory and of realism, an enthusiastic prospect which really takes into account the knowing man.


Mariana THIERIOT LOISEL is Ph.D in philosophy and was coordinator of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Monastery of Saint Benoit in São Paulo in Brazil. Member of the transdisciplinary institutes CIRET and CETRANS, she pursues her work on consciousness of the non-intentional in Montréal (Canada). The new readers will refer to the preceding issues of the review where she in particular treated sciences of education, intentionality or human mutations. In this issue of PLASTIR, she wonders on the identity and the place of the woman, about her philosophical thought and the intellectual part which she could play in a fully changing society. This paper is translated into Portuguese and will be published by the Brazilian Transdisciplinary Centre of Education (CETRANS), in partnership with the PSA Research Group. The author approaches here with a great acuity and in an historical prospect, a very burning and current subject: that of, sexism, stereotyped behaviour, equal rights, potency of the socio-cultural heritages, femininity finally. Femininity in all its width: its sufferings […] “What can one make of you if it is your belly which orders ? ” […], her seduction, her refusals, her diabolization, her intuitions, her unrecognized intellect.. Femininity from the beginning incarnated by the treason of Guinevere – woman of the king Arthur – with Lancelot du Lac, her disastrous impact on the kingdom of Camelot, and the perfidious role of her half-sister Morgan, powerful witch who will give an illegitimate son to Arthur, the whole orchestrated by the wise Merlin which initiated the famous search of Graal. The tone is given. The druids the Christians will succeed who will taken into account this report of failure, of weakness, cheating, impurity and will give to man his place of saver. Force, chastity, purity of the intention, chivalrous incorruptibility, all that would differentiate him from the woman who betrays, breaks the unit of the circle. And Mariana Thiériot to continue her demonstration, by taking forward the tragedy of Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, who faced the prohibition of Créon in the Greece Antique, and the lesson of Sénèque as for the virtue, with the stoicism or the supremacy of the ratio on the body, of the adversity towards the men of his time. Thus she will say by commenting on it: “And Sénèque is opposed thus to Aristote and Épicure, because for him “the sovereign well is not the virtue linked with the pleasure”. To understand what makes the force of the stoical ones, which will enable them to endure without bending the adversity, it is necessary to turn to the concept of interior life. The happy life is the virtuous life. That which in front of what it cannot change and must support or face, even changes it, finding in oneself, a serenity able to endure the fate. ” Sénèque will be carried out by Néron. Quarrel between faith and reason, Eve and the anger of God, Eve and Adam’s apple, objectal vision, refusal of the instruction, the pleasure, the power… The woman will thus remain in the heart of the sacrificial concept, fall of the man and culpability. Role that the patriarchal society, that the Judeo-Christian religion – with the concept of original sin -, to quote only they, will ratify and make last during millennia. Sometimes like the author shows it, from frustrations to repressions, the woman’s imaginary will take various forms, will yield to the modes, will even leaves to rock in masculinity with the image of the “iron Lady”, will be carried by the literature, painting and arts, abolishing the negation of the femininity of a Catherine de Sienne to discover her hidden side, “her non-intentional heritage”, will be incensed to celebrate her maternity, her sensuality, however continues to be ridiculed all over the world, even if big societal projections were born. A solution would emerge, however in the field of intellect, the enlightened reason which moves away from the cruelty of the men… A solution where the transverse, inclusive and complex nature of the woman could play a new part, to give place to a shared pleasure or a friendship, a common recognition. “However, it is clearly that of a reason lit by the heart, a significant reason, according to the book of Michel Maffesoli, of which it is question here: a plastic, transverse reason, able to think and compose with complexity of the life made of direction and non-direction.”, dixit the author. This project, that of woman as Jeanne d’ Arc or Aliénor of Aquitaine at the medieval time, Camille Claudel, Marie Curie, Louise Labbé, Hannah Arendt, Mother Teresa, Simone Weil, Ellen MacArthur, Indira Gandhi and so much of others in modernity already traced, would allow the emancipation, not of a unique Terra Femina, but of a place of transcultural dialogue where the plasticity of the human nature carried by its two female and male poles would find a third position, opened on the fruitfulness of the exchange.


Abdelkader BACHTA is professor of philosophy at the University of Tunis. Regular contributor of the review DOGMA, he is interested in the epistemological field, the philosophical implications of the scientific rationality of Einstein, in the Kantian idealism, the information systems in philosophy of sciences. He in particular published “The scientific epistemology of the Lights” (2001), “Space and time at Newton and Kant” (2002), “The rebirth of past: Kant, Einstein and modernity” (2009), at Harmattan Eds. In this article, he dissects the concept of paradigm, its repercussions in normal science and in the historical changes of paradigm, starting with the Principia of Newton, then by a fine analysis of the kuhnian impact. Thus, he shows that the paradigm is initially “a simple instrument to solve the immediate questions”, then, becomes “as a means of liquidating the enigmas which appear with the scientist during his research.” The accumulation of the scientific data is thus for Kuhn the basis of science, and the researchers, in their great majority yield with this discipline. “Our thinker still returns to the scientific thought of the lights to show that at the bottom this one was spread, largely, in the paradigm which the work of Newton indicated contains. Indeed, neither Maupertuis and Voltaire, nor Clairaut and D’Alembert etc exceeded the Newtonian territory in its general information” says to us with accuracy Abdelkader Bachta. But, it begins complicate when a crack in this beautiful construction appears, when the paradigmatic logic gives signs of temporal erosion. And it is often the case of the crises or major historical ruptures which upset the established order, called into question the observations of Galileo or Newtonian physics. And the author to show us the need for the conflict appeared in the kuhnian analysis, that also of the revolution, intermediate periods, retreats and consecutive projections, normative transformation, conceptual change, rejection and awakenings “where the image even of science is seen exchanged under the blow of the change of paradigm” and finally, primarily of the need for a new vision of the world. It was naturally the case at the time of the discovery of relativity made by Einstein. For Kuhn, raises Bachta, “[…] the revolutionary period is marked by a complete rupture with the past, contrary to the dimension of continuity of normal science”, and he explains it by historical and anhistoric considerations, like accumulation, then the pressing need for the change, but also the rejection of the tradition or the nature of the paradigm, which is non-reflexive or truly intuitive, respectively bringing closer Kuhn from Koyré – passage of a method rejected with a more plausible method and of Kant – intuition a priori -. There, the author shows us the influences of Piaget on the ontological aspect of the paradigm, and of Darwin on his non-finality, introducing interesting elements of thinking as for the sometimes continuous genesis, sometimes discontinuous or chaotic of advanced sciences. Other factors not related on the temporal genealogy, but on the socio-cultural influences, the idea even of perception of the concept, its psychological and philosophical repercussions when the dogma collapses. And there, one cannot prevent oneself from thinking of the quantum revolution which is always current, which had major impacts in all the disciplinary fields, and which sees still hatching today many theories or of revolutionary applications (like the quantum computer). On the psychological level, two concepts prevail, that of psychology of perception “[…] That would like to say that the neuro-cerebral program fixes during the process of normal science is oscillating, following in that the shock corresponding of the paradigm”, and that of the sociology of the group prevails: “one cannot think the scientific progress which marks, for Kuhn, one of the originalities of the scientific thought without this famous concept of group”, or “normal science progresses insofar as there is a continuous increase in knowledge within a single paradigm; in this case the notion of the group accompanying this one is necessary, without it normal science cannot advance”, dixit the author. In short, the paradigm, with the image of human plasticity, has a founder role for normal science, undergoes the erosion of time and strong crises likely to shake its normative aspect and to announce its disability, the need for change. Thomas Kuhn will have played an important role in the legibility of these stages and their epistemological emancipation.


Herbert A. SIMON, doctor of Political sciences of the University of Chicago, Nobel Prize of economy in 1978, expert in economy for presidents L. Johnson and R. Nixon in the Sixties and member of the Academy of Science of the United States of America, is, as we introduced it into PLASTIR n°22, a true pioneer in the field of the information sciences. He will very early give a dominating place to cognitive psychology in his research on rationality, intentionality and the interface man-machine. In 1975, he will share with Newell the Turing price for his work on the links between economy and behavioural science. This price will come to crown his precursor work realized in the Fifties with Hawkins in what he will call the artificial intelligence (IA). These writings, represented in the majority of the languages of the world, are deposited at the Memorial H. Simon of the Carnegie-Melon University in Pittsburgh (USA), but remain little known in France. This is why, on the traces of J-L Moigne who published the famous “untraceable ones” of Herbert A. Simon on the MCX website, we contribute to diffuse his work. Here, it is question of showing the genesis of cognition sciences and all the genius of this visionary. In addition to the obvious historical interest of this text making us penetrate in the context of the second world war in the middle of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica (California), of the birth of the Boolean laws, the computers and the premises of cognitive sciences, it at the same time the genesis of the thought of the author, his experimental constructions and the account of these meetings with Newell, Mc Culloch, Shannon, Wiener which will give birth cybernetics during this period or Von Neumann who will write his famous paper on the auto-organization during the “Hixon Symposium” of 1951, which impresses. One there too sees stinging the first IBM, the fundamental interrogations as for the body-mind relations, with the behavioural science (publication of “The theory of games” in 1945) or with the birth of new disciplines (meets between data processing and neurophysiology: sciences of cognition; meet between physics & chemistry: quantum theory). In substance, Simon each time describes the problems posed, the possible solutions, projections (future projections of the neurobiology) and the way in which the “grey matter tank” of the Rand reacted and interacted at that time. That gives us an enthralling point of view on our heritage and the layer scaffolding of the history of sciences. But not only. Herbert A. Simon opens the doors of modernity as for the birth of “the sciences of the mind” (language and information theory, of behaviour, social sciences, neurophysiology), of the data processing and with the emancipation of intelligent systems.

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