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Rebel GeniusWarren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science$
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Tara H. Abraham

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035095

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035095.001.0001

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The Cybernetician

The Cybernetician

(p.123) 6 The Cybernetician
Rebel Genius

Tara H. Abraham

The MIT Press

This chapter offers an interpretation of the cybernetics movement that places McCulloch at the centre of the story. By doing so, it illustrates that McCulloch’s cybernetic project can be best understood in light of his interest in psychiatric foundations and the problem of mind and brain. Focusing on McCulloch’s translation of his psychiatric work into the language of cybernetics, his rhetorical strategies in promoting cybernetics, and the challenges he faced, the chapter also highlights the transdisciplinary nature of cybernetics. Further, it illustrates how, despite the origin stories of McCulloch and other members of the cybernetics group, and despite its association with the American unity of science movement, the cybernetics group was more disunified than is commonly argued.

Keywords:   Cybernetics, transdisciplinarity, Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, Norbert Wiener, Macy Conferences on Cybernetics, rhetorical strategies in science, psychoanalysis, unity of science

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