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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5311

Title: The cybernetics of language
Authors: Pedretti, Annetta
Publication Date: 1981
Publisher: Brunel University School of Engineering and Design PhD Theses
Abstract: As a complement to the philosophy of language, the cybernetics of language-is to synthesise a picture of language as a whole; and runs into-(descriptive) difficulties where (at any one time) we can only speak about bounded portions of the world (Wittgenstein). This same difficulty permeates the short history of cybernetics in the concern for wholistic representation, and thus the concern of the cybernetics of language leads to (or arises in) the concern for the language of cybernetics. It becomes resolvable in the context of Second order cybernetics (i.e. the cybernetics of' describing as well as described systems (von Foerster)). The difficulty and the possibility of its resolution are introduced in terms of differences between Russell and Wittgenstein; in terms of the second order cybernetic discussions of the black box (seen as capturing Wittgenstein's silence and, in general, interpretation) and distinctions (G. S. Brown); and in terms of the distinction between natural and artificial languages and the problem of describing description (self-reference). Here the cybernetics of language concerns the nature of inquiry into our descriptive abilities and activities, and determines what we can and what we cannot (objectively) speak about. The notions of 'the function of language' and 'the existence of language' (presupposed in a first order description) are shown to be mutually interdependent, giving rise to a paradox of means (and giving rise to the question of the 'origin of language'). This paradox is resolved where a language is seen as constructed (for a particular purpose), and thus the circularity is unfolded, considering that (i) in terms of a constructive function of language, there is no language (something is in the process of being constructed); (ii) in terms of a communicative function of language, such a construction is in the process of being accepted (something is being negotiated); (iii) in terms of an argumentative-function of language, a language (accepted, eg. having, been negotiated) is used to negotiate things distinct from-this language. Language is seen as comprising the interaction between these activities. The cybernetics of language is developed in terms of the requirements for an observer to construct, communicate and argue: a language is constructed for the description of these processes in terms of the; complementarity between description and interpretation (underlying the process of construction) and the complementarity between saying and doing (enabling an observer to explore, eg. question, test and explain his construction and distinguish another observer; and enabling two or more observers to negotiate and accept relations and argue by distinguishing both a language and the things this is used to describe).
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5311
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