The unmarked state – Laws of form 50th Anniversary Conference August 8-10, 2019, Liverpool UK

Source: LOF50

The Conference

2019 marks 50 years since George Spencer-Brown’s book, Laws of Form was first published; 50 years since Heinz von Foerster’s influential review in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue first appeared, describing it as a Twentieth Century transistorized power-driven equivalent of Occam’s razor; 50 years since Stafford Beer reviewed it in Nature, stating he suspected he was reviewing ‘a work of genius’, a view shared by Lancelot Law Whyte, who described it as such in his book, The Universe of Experience: A Worldview Beyond Science and Religion, adding, ‘I recommend to all interested in the frontiers of the intellect the introduction and notes to Laws of Form.’ In The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, he stated, ‘I still consider, on re-examining this book after a two-year interval, that it is a work of genius … One is aware of contact with a mind of high originality’.

In that space of 50 years, the book, which to many seemed to mix mathematics and mysticism, has influenced major developments in mathematics, humanities, logic, philosophy, systems theory, and sciences.

The Unmarked State Laws of Form 50th anniversary conference celebrates the work of author and polymath, George Spencer-Brown, 1923-2016 and reviews the past, present, and future of his attempt to rethink creation from first principles, his influence on Kauffman, Luhmann, von Foerster, Varela, and others, and questions what might develop out of Spencer-Brown’s work in the next fifty years.

The Unmarked State Laws of Form 50th anniversary conference is a celebratory cross-disciplinary gathering which will be of interest to mathematicians, philosophers, sociologists, cyberneticists, designers, and all those interested in how to create a world from nothing.

Dates & Location

August 8-10, 2019.

Old Library, Liverpool University, 19 Abercromby Square L69 7ZN, UK.

Liverpool is reached by train to Lime Street, by air to Manchester or Liverpool Airports.

University car parks are nearby. There are many hotels in the vicinity, with options to suit every budget.

Call for Papers

The Unmarked State Laws of Form 50th anniversary conference is a celebratory cross-disciplinary gathering which will be of interest to mathematicians, philosophers, sociologists, cyberneticists, designers, and all those interested in how to create a world from nothing.

The cross-disciplinary conference will review the influence that Laws of Form has had since its publication and its unexplored potential and explore the work of author and polymath, George Spencer Brown, 1923-2017. We aim to explore the past, present, and future of his attempt to rethink creation from first principles, his influence on Kauffman, Luhmann, von Foerster, Varela, and others; and question what might develop out of Spencer-Brown’s work in the next fifty years.

As with other academic conferences, the primary goal of LoF50 is for people to meet and interact.

Presentations of research connected to the work of George Spencer-Brown are invited in two forms:

  1. Regular papers

Every regular paper will have a 30-minute slot in the programme, during which they are expected to give a 20 minute presentation and answer questions in person.

  1. Short presentations and workshops

These can be of a more fluid nature and give personal or artistic responses to the Laws of Form. Short presentations should be at about 20 minutes in length.

Workshop organisers please say how long they might require.

Cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Please send a 200-word abstract of your proposal to the committee by noon on the 11th of March 2019. To submit a proposal, please use the submission page on EasyChair.

We intend to publish regular papers, where appropriate, in a special volume of the Series on Knots and Everything.

An account of the conference as a collection of abstracts and presentations will be circulated as an edited pdf.

Expressions of Interest

Please use the contact form on this website to request further information or express interest in contributing.