abstracts

5.1 Tom Burns and Walter Buckley:
Tom Burns will lead the ceremony during which Walter Buckley will be inaugurated as honorary president of WG01. As most of you will know, Walter Buckley could be considered as one of the "fathers of sociocybernetics", owing to the two pioneering volumes he published already in the 1960s, in which he introduced the cybernetics and general systems approach to a sociological readership. It must be a great personal satisfaction to him that, after initial resistance, the sociocybernetics approach is finally being accepted thirty years later by the international sociological community. In all probability, social science editor Carol Hollander of Gordon & Breach will be able to present Walter Buckley with his new book, "Society: A Complex Adaptive System. Essays in Social Theory", during this ceremony. Walter Buckley himself will then give the following special address:

Walter Buckley:
"Mind and Brain: A Dynamic System Model"


This paper outlines a systemic process model of mind/brain relations and the generation and maintenance of consciousness and mental events in terms of an organism environment complex recursive loop. It is presented as a scientific approach utilizing concepts of modern science and technology. A brain alone theory is questioned but the nervous system is given its due within the broader loop. This avoids a dualism as the only alternative to brain physicalism. Consciousness and mentality are seen as dynamic system processes, not entities with a spatial or temporal locus. The various phases of this organism environment loop, within which conscious events are generated, are discussed: sensory input, perception and cognition, decision, and motor output back on to the environment. If the loop is cut anywhere for long, consciousness is impaired or ceases. Along the way a number of conceptual stumbling blocks to a scientific theory are addressed and resolutions suggested.


Tom Burns, Uppsala Theory Circle, Box 821, S751 08 Uppsala, Sweden. Tom.Burns@soc.uu.se
Walter Buckley, 20 Riverview Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA. Email: wbuckley@christa.unh.edu, wbuck@alishaw.sscf.ucsb.edu



5.2 Andre Fiedeldey:
"Complexity as Reality: A Cybernetic Analysis of Transcultural Data on Human Perceptions of Environmental Change"


The author will present quantitative and qualitative results from the South African PAGEC (Perception and Assessment of Global Environmental Change) study. The study forms part of an international investigation of the topic, and is the first study on this issue to be undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. A cybernetic approach to the analysis and interpretation of the data will be used to illustrate the relevance of certain basic systemic assumptions. Four language groups (Afrikaans, Zulu, Sotho and English) were sampled in two regions (urban and nonurban) (n=801). Results suggest that the traditionally conceived ethnic variable is much more complex than is usually acknowledged, and is affected by socioeconomic factors such as the situational factors of poverty. The transactional relationship between humans and their natural environment is also seen as being mediated by certain cultural factors that are fundamental to the differences that are found in transcultural research. Amongst these are respondents' cosmology or world view and conceptual aspects of language contributing to the constructivist mapping of different realities. These factors need to be considered with great care within any macrosystemic framework, as they, together with the situational factors mentioned, will exert a significant influence on the effectiveness of any intervention strategies designed to bring about changes in human values, attitudes, perceptions and behaviour visàvis the environment. Multimodal intervention strategies that are contextsensitive and context specific are seen as probably the best possibility for bringing about secondorder change at present.


Andre C. Fiedeldey, Department of Psychology, University of Pretoria, Lynwood Road, 0181 Brooklyn, South Africa. Email: Fiedeld@libarts.up.ac.za



5.3 Bernd R. Hornung; Charo Hornung:
"Implications of Autopoiesis and Cognitive Mapping for a Methodology of Comparative Cross-cultural Research Unity of Science and the EticsEmics Controversy"


Evident key categories of sociocybernetics are social systems, societies, social actors and their actions. Less evident, but intrinsically linked to these, are culture, personality, and psychology including cognition. Sociocybernetics and the cognitive mapping approach propose methodological tools to integrate concepts like culture and personality with the notion of social systems. In the age of globalization this revives the danger of ethnocentrism and the urgent need for Cross-cultural studies along with an appropriate methodology. Empirical studies, e.g. in psychology and anthropology, involving aspects of personality and cognitive systems, rapidly encounter very practical methodological problems which lead to questions originally posed by cultural relativists. These problems have seen a certain revival in the methodological controversy on etic and emic approaches in psychology and anthropology. This is illustrated with a Cross-cultural study on androgyny carried out in Germany and Peru. The implications of autopoietic theory and cognitive mapping are explored with regard to this problem. An evolutionary sociocybernetic view is proposed as a basis for a methodology for Cross-cultural research.


Bernd Hornung, Institute of Medical Informatics, Marburg University, Bunsenstrasse 3, D35037 Marburg, Germany. Email: hornung@mailer.unimarburg.de



5.4 Vladimir V. Shamov:
"About a physicalistic concept of sustainability of geographical systems"


As a developing field within system methodology, the physicalistic concept of the sustainability of natural and socialnatural systems is offered for discussion. This concept follows from a generalization of the theoretical propositions of nonclassical physics on the phenomena traditionally researched within the framework of biology (ecology), geography, economy. It is assumed that any natural or socialnatural system has on the one hand a top limit value of intensity of changes that are defined by the system's genesis (the analogue of light velocity in the special theory of relativity). On the other hand, for each concrete system, there is a bottom limit of intensity of changes below which the movement of this system becomes indiscernible (analogous to the movement speed of a particle on a stationary orbit caused by the existence of a minimal not zero quantum of action). The first proposition obviously allows to estimate a measure of a system's sustainability, the second one a measure of its variability, the opposite side of sustainability. Both can be considered as a display of the system's whole: in the first case concerning its inclusion in a supersystem, in the second case in its relation to the subsystems included in it.


Vladimir V.Shamov, WEPI, Kim Yu Chen Street 65, 680054 Khabarovsk, Russia.
Email: shamov@ivep.khabarovsk.su




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