Epistemology, cybernetics and uncertainty : philosophical observations on the work of Warren McCulloch and John Dewey

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This thesis considers the application of information theory concepts to the problems of epistemology. It attempts to demonstrate that such formalistic concepts by nature must neglect the fundamentally behavioral aspects of thinking, Part I attempts to describe a predicament which is widely felt today, that of man's inability to control a world of his own making. It is then proposed that a comprehensive theory of human behavior is what is required to deal with the predicament. Part II compares the theory of "Experimental Epistemology" of Warren 5. McCulloch with the theory of "Inquiry" of John Dewey. Basically McCulloch's equation of sense data with information and his acceptance of negative feedback as explanatory of purposeful behavior is attacked. Further his assumption of Cartesian Dualism and attempts to resolve it through reductionism are considered in detail. Dewey's theory of "Inquiry" is proposed as a suitable alternative to explain how we gain warrantable assertibility as the foundation for our judgments of practice. His rejection IV of any general theory of reality and insistence upon the social cultural and behavioral aspects of thinking are noted. Part III considers the educational implications of both theories, by analyzing the kinds of choice they deal with and the consequent kinds of control they proffer. Educiational ends are proposed which recognize the human organism as a dynamic process, and requirements for means to such ends are stipulated


Thesis (M.A.) - Dept. of Behavioural Science Foundations - Simon Fraser University

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Subject headings: 
Knowledge, Theory of.
Frederick J. Brown
Education: Behavioral Science Foundations
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Ed.