Posts Tagged ‘Logic’

Logic and Nonlinearity

The crucial passages from this reconstructed conversation have already been cited over at the other place, but it’s important enough to pick over here, too. The maximally-compressed take-away: cybernetic processes are naturally registered as logical paradoxes (with consequent affinity between paradox and — dynamic — reality).

[The] whole fabric of living things is not put together by logic … when you get circular trains of causation, as you always do in the living world, the use of logic will make you walk into paradoxes. Just take the thermostat, a simple sense organ, yes? […] If it’s on, it’s off; if it’s off, it’s on. If yes, then no; if no, then yes. …

So the isomorphy between the most basic cybernetic control loop and classical logical paradoxes (for e.g.) is exact. The significance of this is surely beyond need of defense.

Capra asks, alluding to the Epimenides Paradox, “Do thermostats lie?” To which Bateson replies:

Yes-no-yes-no-yes-no. You see, the cybernetic equivalent of logic is oscillation.

It seems to me that something of vast importance was discovered here, and subsequently almost entirely lost.

(For anybody following the link, it’s worth noting that surgical extraction is in this case ‘steelmanning’. The retreat to ‘metaphor’ as a substitute for logical formalism is disastrously inadequate. The alternative that matters is not figurative language, but the circuit diagram, and recursive code.)

May 2, 2015admin 25 Comments »

Quote notes (#35)

Does open acknowledgement of a firm commitment to deception count as honesty, or the opposite?

Ask the Cretans Germans:

German ministries insist that it is important not to detract from the effectiveness of climate change warnings by discussing the past 15 years’ lack of global warming. Doing so, they say, would result in a loss of the support necessary for pursuing rigorous climate policies. “Climate policy needs the element of fear,” Ott openly admits. “Otherwise, no politician would take on this topic.”

September 29, 2013admin 4 Comments »