The purpose of the book is to deconstruct the process of knowledge discovery and theory construction. Grounded in the tradition of second-order cybernetics, the concept of self-reference is used in the context of systems theory in order to examine the mode in which observation, paradox and delusion become 'structurally coupled' with cognition. To put this simply, physical scientists take it as a given that all the universe is explainable once we've discovered the underlying rules. Whereas social scientists and philosophers are more sensitive to the issues around how the observer actually impacts that which is being observed. The authors work in the fields of Information Studies, which is within the technical or physical realm, and Management Studies, which is about human behaviour. Their argument is that all scientists (physical and social) rely too much on the absolutism and certainty of the methods of traditional physical science and that we should acknowledge the limitations of how we know what we know.
Rooted in information systems analysis this fresh and audacious examination of knowledge discovery and theory construction makes an important contribution to the understanding of how we employ scientific method.
Ian Angell is Professor of Information Systems in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics. His research interests include organizational and national IT policies, strategic information systems, computer security and systemic risk. He has written fourteen books, including The New Barbarian Manifesto (2000), and over a hundred research papers. Dionysios Demetis is a Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science. His research interests include anti-money-laundering schemes and related technologies in the banking sector, systems theory, computer security and the global consequences of information systems.
Chapter 1: Theory and Paradox/Chapter 2: Divination and Theory Construction /Chapter 3: Delusion / Chapter 4: Individual Allusions Contra Sensory Overload /Chapter 5: Patterns of Categorical Delusions / Chapter 6: Tidy Minds, Technology, and the Myth of Control / Chapter 7: Making Sense of Systems / Chapter 8: On the Premises of Observation / Chapter 9: The Frame of Observation & the Functional Differentiation of Science / Chapter 10: Higher Order Observations / Chapter 11: Asymmetry and Self-Reference / Chapter 12: The Principle of Collapsing Systems / Chapter 13: The 'Reality' of the Real / Epilogue