Principia Cybernetica Web

Form and Content

The proposed philosophy, constituting the content of the project, and the conceived distributed hypermedia/email implementation, constituting the form of the project, are in fact closely connected. Both are constructive, in the sense that they start from "primitive" systems from a variety of origins (nodes containing expositions written by diverse participants), which are brought into contact (email conversations , and links to shared files), connected (semantic links), and selectively stabilized, so as to retain those combinations which define a new, more integrated system.

When constructing a cybernetic philosophy the fundamental building blocks that we need are ideas: concepts and systems of concepts. Ideas, similarly to genes, undergo a variation-and-selection type of evolution, characterized by mutations and recombinations of ideas, and by their spreading and selective replication or retention. Ideas that are replicated when they are communicated from one person to another one are called "memes". The basic methodology for quickly developing a system as complex as a cybernetic philosophy would consist in supporting, directing and amplifying this natural development with the help of cybernetic technologies and methods.

It will require, first, a large variety of concepts or ideas, provided by a variety of sources: different contributors to the project with different scientific and cultural backgrounds. Second, we need a practical tool for representing and manipulating these concepts: the computer. Third, we need a system that allows the representation of different types of combinations or associations of concepts. Fourth, we need selection criteria, for picking out new combinations of concepts, that are partly internal to the system, partly defined by the needs of the environment of people that are developing the system. Finally, we need procedures for reformulating the system of concepts, building further on the newly selected recombinations, with the help of the concepts of emergence, and especially of metasystem transition.

Copyright© 1991 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,



Metasystem Transition Theory

Methodology for the Development of MSTT

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