Unreal Nature

November 29, 2019

Yes They Are

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:51 am

… That which we normally designate as an object is in fact a symbol of our ability to compute invariants.

This is from Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics by Heinz von Foerster / Bernhard Pörksen translated by Karen Leube (2002):

[ … ]

Bernhard Pörksen: I’m afraid that I still do not exactly understand this process of “knowing.” At some point, the process of correlating different perceptions that are within oneself must come to a close in order to allow a final impression to emerge. Something like, “Enough already, that’s a hornet!”

Heinz von Foerster: The way I see it, knowledge doesn’t reach some sort of final endpoint. No, it involves an endless and constant circularity. Just as I have begun to know something I start to know it all over again. You might describe my idea of knowledge as “processology.” One’s entire sensomotoricity, the muscles and the senses, continuously produce a reciprocal response and as this takes place, objects are created.

BP: But there must be at least some preliminary results of the knowledge process, since I experience the objects that I perceive as being constant. Contrary to what your “processology” suggests, they aren’t actually in a state of continuous change.

HF: Yes, they are. The thing that we refer to as an object is changing all the time. You never perceive exactly the same object, exactly the same glass, and exactly the same cube. Even when you look in the mirror when you get up in the morning you always see a different Bernhard Pörksen.

[ … ]

HF: … It is important to understand that when we talk about this computing process we are talking about a competency. I think that what we refer to as an object is in fact a competency of our nervous system that enables us to compute invariants. That which we normally designate as an object is in fact a symbol of our ability to compute invariants.

My previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

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