Cybernetics, the theory of intercausal networks underlaying communication and organization processes in dynamical systems, forms a metatheoretical superstructure for individual subdisciplines as systems theory, communication theory, connectionism or decision analysis. Yet, applied cybernetics serves as auxiliary science for practical fields as biology, psychology, medicine and technology.
Complemenatary to this sectoral segmentation cybernetics can be classified into several layers. The inner layer is formed by general theoretical cybernetics (K1) that finds its concretization in the investigation of the realities (K2). Among the K2 the above mentioned subdisciplines (as general systems theory, control theory, information theory or game theory) are to be counted. Practical applications of cybernetics (biological cybernetics, control systems technology, computer science etc.) fall into the external layer (K3).
Founded by von Foerster 'Second-order cybernetics' denotes a progressive intellectual movement within cybernetics and systems thinking that reached fruition in the 1970's. The most common explanation for the movement's agenda is that it turned the principles of cybernetics upon cybernetics itself. In second-order cybernetics, the observer of a system must be described and explained as well as the system observed.
Practicability and consistent links to microtheories of the applied sciences are critical for the K3's success.