052 Cybernetics and social sciences

Our society may in some respect be a mechanism and indeed the mechanism of the largest scale which has ever been made by human hand. The fundamental difference from that of purely physical nature is the autonomy of its component, human being.

Cybernetics can originally include such an autonomous being like steerman (κυβερνήτης) in its system. Navigation indeed is not a natural phenomenon only depending on wind and stream but a part of the social events. Of course this autonomy is restricted but even the autonomy of a president or a premier may also be restricted when he is sailing the ocean of „history“. There are always the autonomy as well as the restriction in our life and we cannot limitlessly rely upon such an idea, autonomy, if we want to study the social mechanism scientifically. Cybernetics as itself cannot be a dynamical theory of social phenomena, as was told in I. Such a dynamical theory must belong to the proper field of social science.

Cybernetics should not have a polygami-like relation with other field of sciences. It can only warm up our mental activity and provide a new scientific point of view. Whether such a view-point is correct or not must be decided by the study of social science itself. Cybernetics cannot have any power to decide such a thing but has only the good will to suggest. This is also true to mathematics as well as to philosophy. Social science cannot be ruled by the so-called „general principles“ obtained outside of the social study.

From cybernetic point of view human being may be a kind of information processing apparatus, although its software is very specific. Fig. 4 is my own mental picture. A part of our memory like feeling or impression of the past may influence the programming of our mental tape. Another part of our memory stored in the cortex, however, has the form of abstract conception or notation and it is highly used for the information processing, just like the case of electronic computer. Our mental function of logical processing is called „understanding“. Our passion influences the processing which hampers our logical judgement.

The programming of our mental tape, which may be a special kind of memory (see Note), may also be influenced by impression, instinct and other factors of our social life, although our judgement itself must correctly be logical. Therefore, if the program tape is under the influence of prejudice or wrong impression, our judgement cannot be objectively just even in the case of logically correct processing.

Note In school education we do not test simple memory but the degree of development of the software, in which simple memory is composed in a pattern of behaviour as the result of learning.

Fig. 4 is only a „suggestion“ but such a mental picture may be plausible. Specificity of the human being may be in the programming of the software, which was cultivated in social life, especially by education at home and at school. Such an influence of social life is the general nature of primates, in which apes and monkeys are included too. Other animals are not so deeply influenced by social life. In the case of insects the behaviour is almost perfectly determined by its instinct, like a machine controlled by a program tape. In the case of vertebrate the behaviour is more flexible, because of the developed power of information processing.

Considering this, there is no fundamental difference between human being and other animals with respect to the information processing or we can say that from cybernetic point of view the difference is only a matter of degree of complexity, that is, the ability of information processing is, on the one hand, exceedingly large because of the use of abstract conception and, on the other, the program tape is flexible. However, the quantitative difference induces a qualitative one, i.e. our programming may change as the social condition changes. The social change, further, is induced autonomously by human work. Such a flexibility makes the fundamental difference of human being from other animals including apes and monkeys. Nevertheless, the human being cannot generally adapt to the change of situation so rapidly, that there is a certain time lag or delay in the modification on its software.

Therefore, there are two sides to be studied. One is the matter concerning the modification of our mental tape, and the other is the study of the social behaviour which can be understood neglecting such a modification.