© 2003

Understanding Understanding

Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 21-100
  3. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 169-189
  4. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 191-197
  5. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 211-227
  6. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 229-246
  7. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 273-282
  8. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 283-286
  9. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 287-304
  10. Heinz von Foerster, Paul Schroeder
    Pages 325-338
  11. Heinz von Foerster
    Pages 339-349
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 351-362

About this book


In these essays Heinz von Foerster discusses some of the fundamental principles that govern how we know the world and how we process the information from which we derive that knowledge. Included are path- breaking articles concerning the principles of computation in neural nets (1967), the definition of self-organizing systems (1960), the nature of cognition (1970), as well as recent expansions on these themes (e.g. "How recursive is communication," 1993). Working with Norbert Wiener, Warren McCullough, and others in the 1960s and 1970s, von Foerster was one of the founders of the science of cybernetics, which has had profound effects both on modern systems theory and on the philosophy of cognition. At the Biological Computer Laboratory at the University of Illinois he produced the first parallel computers and contributed to many other developments in the theory of computation and cognition.


Memory Niklas Luhmann Perception cognition communication cybernetics epistemology ethics knowledge self-organizing system systems theory

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Computer Laboratory, EmeritusUniversity of IllinoisUrbana

Bibliographic information