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Heinz von Foerster 100
Organizing Institutions:
Heinz von Foerster Gesellschaft / Wien
ASC – American Society for Cybernetics
WISDOM – Wiener Institut für
  sozialwissenschaftliche Dokumentation und Methodik

Institut für Zeitgeschichte | Universität Wien
AINS – Austrian Institute for Nonlinear Studies
Louis H Kauffman

What is an Object that a Person might know It and a Person that She might know an Object?

Math, UIC
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7045

This talk is based in the comparison of two statements:
Heinz von Foerster: "I am the observed link between myself and observing myself."
David Finkelstein: "An observed observer cannot observe."
Von Foerster's sentence points to the recursive (and self-pointing) nature of the I of a cognitive observer. Finkelstein's sentence points to the nature of quantum observation. It could be rephrased as "An observed observer cannot observe (anything new)." This is in line with the quantum mechanical model of observation in terms of projection to a subspace of a Hilbert space. The square of a projection is the projection. Repeated observation yields nothing new (without subsequent unitary evolution of the state vector). The essence of quantum observation is a projection from a space of possibilities to a single actuality.

The problem we consider in this talk is the relationship of quantum observation with recursion, self-reference and reflexivity.
Heinz von Foerster's concept of eigenform is a cybernetic generalization of the mathematical/physical concept of eigenvalue (related to quantum observation). Does cybernetics offer a new context for quantum physics?
Does quantum physics shed new light on cybernetics?
This talk stands under these questions, and hopes to understand them.