Andrew Pickering in “Cybernetics as Nomad Science”, seems to have some ideas convergent with pluralist thinkers such as Deleuze and Feyerabend. He contrasts a pluralist open anarchist ontology based on embodiment and becoming with a dualist ontology based on the cartesian ego representing and dominating the world. He finds exemplars of these ontologies in cybernetics (nomad science) and AI (royal science) respectively.
In another article, discussing Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology” he associates cybernetics with an approach based on “revealing” and AI with “enframing”. Pickering argues that the dominance of “asymmetric dualism” is only hegemonic and not absolute, and that all sorts of other practices exist on the margins. He hopes that these marginal practices can assemble and escape from enframing.
In his article “New Ontologies” his examples are not football (one of Sean Kelly’s favorite examples), but art (de Kooning vs Mondrian), civil engineering (adaptive ecological management vs large-scale projects of control), and psychiatry (anti-psychiatric endeavours like Laing’s Kingsley Hall vs asymmetrical hierarchical relations in a mental hospital, inner voyage vs blitz therapy), but he also speaks of mathematics, music, and architecture.

This espousal of an immanent ontology of becoming as against a transcendent ontology of essences has much in common with Sean Kelly and Hubert Dreyfus’s project in their book ALL THINGS SHINING. Pickering would be in agreement with their vision of the succession of incommensurable understandings of the world which nonetheless have current relevance thanks to their continuing existence and availability as embodied in marginal practices existing inside whatever hegemonic understanding has come to dominate an epoch. He would see in their notion of a « thing thinging » as a local and temporary assembling a form of an ontology of becoming. Finally he would approve of the concept of « meta-poiesis » as a good description of the sort of « danse of agency » that is required for getting around in such a world.

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  1. Bill Benzon dit :

    Curious. As far as I can tell, both AI and cybernetics have pretty much run their course. I don’t think either is producing new ideas, though the old ones do hang around.


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