Reflections on the Conference: Causes and Reality
One of the key questions which has emerged from the conference for me relates to the nature of causality. Ernst reminded us that he believes (with David Hume) that causes are not real but constructed.
I’m much less certain of this.
My second session group talked about politics and ethics. Larry’s summing-up was very elegant and it draws attention to the moral and ethical sides of cybernetics. Put simply, my reality might be a construct, but my actions resulting from my reality affect you and are your reality. They affect your wellbeing, freedom, etc. In other words, constructing carries with it some duty to acknowledge the likely effects on a shared environment of other people, or (in the case of architecture) things which other people engage with. Conversely, my ‘constructing’ depends on the actions you take with regard to your reality. Those ‘likely effects’ seem common to human experience and as such might have some claim for being ‘real’.
We have had a good conference because it was thoughtfully designed to maximise the opportunities for individuals to listen and express themselves. But I wonder if in that thoughtful design there is an implicit notion of ‘real’ causes which 2nd order cybernetics struggles to articulate. Personally, I’d like my cybernetics to allow me the freedom to at least consider the possibility of an ontological world, just as it lends itself to allowing me to consider the possibility of the absence of reality.