Verso un’ecologia generale. Per una cibernetica delle differenze

  • Luca Fabbris Università degli Studi di Torino


The present paper investigates different ways of employing cybernetics to define a general ecology. In An Introduction to Cybernetics, Ross Ashby distinguishes between a pragmatic, a therapeutic, and an encyclopedic function of cybernetics. Pragmatic and therapeutic functions are generally used as a homeotechnic approach to understand and regulate complex systems. The encyclopedic function refers to the ways in which cybernetics considers the modes-of-relation between different branches of knowledge. In §1 and §2, I focus on some improper uses of the expression “general ecology”. Associated with images such as Spaceship Earth and Gaia, general ecology involves a global, holistic and totalizing point of view, based on the binary codes local/global and part/whole. Concerning this global approach, cybernetics is used only pragmatically and therapeutically. Notwithstanding the reference to general ecology, this approach remains restricted to an economy of nature. In §3 and §4, I sketch a different path toward general ecology by passing through the encyclopedic function of cybernetics. Cybernetics thus becomes a way to compose branches of knowledge without implying a general systems theory, using instead operations of transduction – abstract machines – in order to mediate between different branches. In this perspective, the composition between systems is no longer regarded in the light of the binary codes local/global and part/whole, rather, it is based on the “ecological difference” (recursive and multiscale differentiation between system and environment).

Biografia autore

Luca Fabbris, Università degli Studi di Torino

Dottorando presso l’Università degli Studi di Torino (Consorzio FINO) con un progetto incentrato sull’ontologia dei sistemi auto-organizzati nella cibernetica di second’ordine. Ha conseguito la Laurea Magistrale con una tesi su William Ross Ashby. Co-dirige insieme ad Alberto Giustiniano e Claudio Tarditi la collana “BIT” per l’editore Orthotes.