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By Jean-Pierre Dupuy

The conceptual background of cognitive technological know-how continues to be for the main half unwritten. during this groundbreaking booklet, Jean-Pierre Dupuy--one of the critical architects of cognitive technological know-how in France--provides a big bankruptcy: the legacy of cybernetics. opposite to renowned trust, Dupuy argues, cybernetics represented now not the anthropomorphization of the computer however the mechanization of the human. The founding fathers of cybernetics--some of the best minds of the 20th century, together with John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, and Walter Pitts--intended to build a materialist and mechanistic technological know-how of psychological habit that might give the chance ultimately to solve the traditional philosophical challenge of brain and topic. the significance of cybernetics to cognitive technology, Dupuy argues, lies no longer in its bold notion of the human brain when it comes to the functioning of a computing device yet within the method the strengths and weaknesses of the cybernetics procedure can remove darkness from controversies that rage today--between cognitivists and connectionists, eliminative materialists and Wittgensteinians, functionalists and anti-reductionists. Dupuy brings to lifestyles the highbrow pleasure that attended the beginning of cognitive technological know-how sixty years in the past. He separates the promise of cybernetic principles from the discontentment that as cybernetics used to be rejected and consigned to highbrow oblivion. The mechanization of the brain has reemerged this present day as an all-encompassing paradigm within the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, info expertise, and cognitive technology. The tensions, contradictions, paradoxes, and confusions Dupuy discerns in cybernetics provide a cautionary story for destiny advancements in cognitive technological know-how.

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4 The fundamental concepts that allow cognitivism to advance this type of argument today are due to cybernetics. As it happens, however, cybernetics conceived and articulated these concepts in a very different manner that made no reference whatever to a computer—an object that had yet to be invented in the form in which we now know it. The three levels postulated by cognitive science—computation, causal physical laws, and meaning—were already developed in cybernetic thinking; but, in passing from cybernetics to cognitivism, both the character and the order of these levels came to be altered.

For positivists ever since Comte, the progress of science had been seen as forcing the retreat of metaphysics; for Heidegger, by contrast, technoscience represented the culmination of metaphysics. And the height of metaphysics was nothing other than cybernetics. Let us try to unravel this tangled skein. For Heidegger, metaphysics is the search for an ultimate foundation for all reality, for a “primary being” in relation to which all other beings find their place and purpose. Where traditional metaphysics (“onto-theology”) had placed God, modern metaphysics substituted man.

20 Cybernetics, as it happened, was ready to hand, having come along at just the right moment to demystify the voluntary and conscious subject. The will? All its manifestations could apparently be simulated, and therefore duplicated, by a simple negative feedback mechanism. Consciousness? The Cybernetics Group had examined the Freudian unconscious, whose existence was defended by one of its members, Lawrence Kubie, and found it chi- THE SELF-MECHANIZED MIND 19 merical. If Kubie often found himself the butt of his colleagues’ jokes, it was not, one suspects, because he was thought to be an enemy of human dignity.

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