Florian Cramer on Thu, 5 Mar 2009 13:46:25 -0500 (EST)

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Re: <nettime> Cybernetics and the Internet

On Thursday, March 05 2009, 12:32 (-0500), t byfield wrote:
> One difficulty of writing a history of cybernetics is that the problems
> it explicitly poses about 'autonomy' undermine the twin ideas of author 
> and history. If you accept the major premises of cybernetics (even in the 
> bracketed form that historical craft requires), the notion of a stable 
> subject who acts deliberately falls apart; 

...but it's one thing whether the stable subject is taken apart on the
grounds of a critique of 18th/19th ideologies of genius and subjectivism 
by analyzing, for example, structures of human consciousness and
language (as in Freud's psychoanalysis and structuralism). It's a
completely different thing when the stable subject is negated from a
late-Cartesian perspective of behaviorist mechanism (as in classical
cybernetics).  The latter denounces human - and thus also political and
critical - agency, and that's a crucial difference.

Again, the frequent mix-up and contamination of these two discourses in
the "new media" field is unfortunate, and sometimes disturbing.


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