Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To download the bibliographic list of all PEP-Web content…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Did you know that you can download a bibliography of all content available on PEP Web to import to Endnote, Refer, or other bibliography manager? Just click on the link found at the bottom of the webpage. You can import into any UTF-8 (Unicode) compatible software which can import data in “Refer” format. You can get a free trial of one such program, Endnote, by clicking here.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Ostow, M. (1954). Cybernetics. Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems. Transactions of the Ninth Conference, March 20-21, 1952: Edited by Heinz Von Foerster. New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1953. 184 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 23:591-594.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:591-594

Cybernetics. Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems. Transactions of the Ninth Conference, March 20-21, 1952: Edited by Heinz Von Foerster. New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1953. 184 pp.

Review by:
Mortimer Ostow

This fourth published series of transactions of the annual Conferences on Cybernetics seems somewhat less well put together and less provocative than its predecessors. Of the ten papers presented only three are fully discussed. Since it was the purpose of the formal papers merely to provide a skeleton for the discussion, the skewing of the discussion around the first three papers, and especially around the first, results in a fairly diffuse manuscript in which a central theme fails to appear. Of the one hundred eighty pages in the book, forty-seven are devoted to the presentation and discussion of The Position of Humor in Human Communication by Gregory Bateson. It is proposed to approach the whole subject of humor afresh and to make a significant advance by consideration of its function as a mode of communication. There is no serious reference to Freud's extensive monograph on wit. The result is that both paper and discussion succeed in describing only the most superficial aspects of humor, those that Freud lists completely but dismisses as the formal prerequisites for humor rather than its essence. For example, the paradox is considered to be the paradigm, and the reversal of figure and ground a frequent device for humor. There seems to be no awareness that both paradox and reversal are used merely to provide occasion for the expression of an unconscious wish. There is concern only with the form of the joke and not at all with its affective meaning. Two discussants, Pitts and Gerard, mention that the essential part of a joke is its being addressed to a specific listener. This important point is not mentioned by the author of the paper nor does anyone mention the fact that a joke has not only an individual—implicit or explicit—as its object, but also an implicit or explicit audience. To anyone thoroughly familiar with Freud's monograph, this paper and its discussion are elementary. One exception should be mentioned. At one point in the discussion the use of the word 'tension' becomes the center of interest. This common word is rather imprecise in ordinary usage because it is used with so many meanings.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.