Volume 9 · Number 1 · Pages 102–104
Standing on the Broad Shoulders of Ashby

Inman Harvey

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Open peer commentary on the article “Homeostats for the 21st Century? Simulating Ashby Simulating the Brain” by Stefano Franchi. Upshot: It is a mistake to characterise Ashby’s view of life (from the 1950s) as passive, abstractly modelled in part by the homeostat; one should distinguish the stasis of homeostasis from the activity of the (model) organism. Likewise mistaken is the accusation of contingency; one should distinguish the purposeless mechanism from the purposeful (model) organism. There is no basic conflict between Ashby’s view and later developments in a similar tradition; technical advances are not the same as foundational gaps.


Harvey I. (2013) Standing on the broad shoulders of Ashby. Constructivist Foundations 9(1): 102–104. http://constructivist.info/9/1/102

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