The essay presents a historical analysis of the background, context, and consequences of the famous and seminal article on teleological mechanisms and circular causality published in 1943 by Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener, and Julian Bigelow. The first part shows how the ‘martial air’ of the 20th century – from World War I to the Cold War – shaped the development and the content of several studies related to behavior control. The 1943 article became so important in the history of science thanks to the role played by the Macy Foundation which, for seven years (1946-1953), sponsored a series of conferences. Their ideal goals and real accomplishments, their rhetoric and style of working are discussed in the second part, where some instances are also given of the clashing views and conflicts that marked the activity of the cybernetic group.
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