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Title: Principia metamorphologica: Novum Organum
Author: Wilk, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 8662
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 1994
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This essay presents a General Theory of Intervention-an account of what it is for anyone or anything to act and what it is for anyone or anything to be acted upon. It sets out, in the first instance, to re-lay the philosophical foundations of the science of cybernetics, putting them on a more robust and theoretically parsimonious basis, and to integrate cybernetics properly within the natural sciences where, it is argued, it belongs. At the same time, as a piece of revisionary metaphysics `in the grand style', this essay attempts nothing less than to put forward an alternative account of the nature of the physical universe and man's place in it. The Official view of the universe as consisting of a richly interconnected, hierarchically ordered system of causally interacting, homogeneous classes of events governed by a handful of fundamental, universal laws, is critiqued, and a radically and uncompromisingly empiricist alternative is put forward. The Official triad of notions of object-and- forces, cause-and-effect, and conformity to universal laws or regularities, is replaced with an alternative triad of notions: flux-and-constraint, purpose-and-design, and adjustment to locally prevailing conditions. The Official cosmology is replaced by an alternative picture of the universe as consisting of a myriad of fundamentally diverse, autonomous, idiosyncratic events unfolding in keeping with any locally present requirements of purpose and design, custom and practice. It is the General Theory of Intervention which provides the vehicle for this radical overhaul of our conceptual scheme for understanding man's relationship to nature. In re-conceiving human conduct as intervention-in-context, this essay puts forward an account of the nature of mind and action and their place within nature that is radically incompatible with any physicalist, causal view that involves the alleged supervenience of mind on brain. It is argued that most would-be neurophysiological `explanations' of human conduct are fundamentally and fatally flawed. And in this connexion, a new and scientifically grounded argument for the freedom of the will is put forward. Recent work in control theory as applied to neuroscience and biology is adverted to in support of the likely physical mechanisms of intentionality-the physics of purpose. However, the overall thrust is to demonstrate the logical impossibility of constructing an adequate causal account of human action and to put forward a detailed, alternative account of human conduct as a nonetheless natural phenomenon amenable to scientific understanding. At the heart of this work lies an alternative theory of explanation based on (`negative') cybernetic explanation-and its implications for the philosophy of science are examined. And since, up to a point, substance is 'where explanation stops', the inevitable implications for a philosophical account of substance are followed through, with particular reference to Locke and Leibniz. Taken as a whole, the General Theory of Intervention constitutes an organon for the study of transformation-change of form in nature (including the human arena). Arguably, the study of change is the very raison d'etre of all science, and this account adumbrates the principles of a metamorphology which is proposed as an alternative to physics as the basis for unifying the sciences( to the extent that they can still be unified), with physicst aking its place as merely one field of study amongst many. This metamorphology attempts, above all, to provide a rigorous philosophical basis for taking purpose as a fundamental in our understanding of human conduct and for including purpose within nature. The methodological implications of this new organon are presented in theoretical terms and some of the practical applications are illustrated in an Annex, demonstrating the power of these ideas in creating real-world transformations in the world of affairs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available