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 mixed mathematics, mysticism, and philosophy, 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.

Thank you to all participants for making LoF50 a great success!
Documentation & Exhibition
We are collaborating with West Den Haag, a national art centre in the Netherlands. Their team has produced video recordings of talks and presentations at LoF50, which were used in the exhibition project "Alphabetum III" inside West Den Haag. The exhibition ran from September 28 - December 31, 2019. Videos are linked via the detailed programme pages on this website as well as on the exhibition page at West Den Haag. We thank the team at West Den Haag for the collaboration and the work that went into the production of the videos and the exhibition.
Dates & Location
The conference was held August 8-10, 2019 at the Old Library, Liverpool University, 19 Abercromby Square L69 7ZN, UK.

Conference Programme
Thursday, August 8
15:00 – 18:00
Arrive and Orientate at the Venue
18:00 – 20:00
Evening Reception
Friday, August 9
– full programme –
08:30 – 09:00
Registration & Coffee
09:00 – 09:15
Introduction & Welcome
09:15 – 09:55
Keynote: Catjects
Dirk Baecker
09:55 – 10:35
Keynote: Explorations in Laws of Form
Louis H Kauffman
10:35 – 11:15
Keynote: The Calculus of Indications - a Candidate for the Pregeometry of Spacetime?
Graham Ellsbury
11:15 – 12:00
Coffee Break
12:00 – 12:30
The Design of Computation
William Bricken
12:30 – 13:00
In Between Concept and Instance: On the Synthetic Role of the So-Called Example
Christina Weiss
13:00 – 13:30
Time and the Spiritual Laws of Form
R John Williams
13:30 – 15:30
15:30 – 15:50
An Arithmetic and its Geometry in the Higher Degrees
Bernie Lewin
15:50 – 16:10
Lessons from the Markable Mark
George Burnett-Stuart
16:10 – 17:10
Panel Discussion I
Lars Clausen, Walter Tydecks
17:10 – 17:45
Coffee Break
17:45 – 18:15
Structural Comparison of Laws of Form and Genesis 1,1-2,4a
Josef Freystetter
18:15 – 18:45
Two Men of Distinction - Parallels in the World Views of George Spencer-Brown & Douglas Harding
Tom Short
18:45 – 19:15
The BF Cyclic Calculus: A Purely Containment-Based Extension to Laws of Form
Arthur Collings
19:30 – 20:30
Performance: Flatland
Divyamaan Sahoo
Individual Dinner
Saturday, August 10
– full programme –
08:30 – 09:00
Registration & Coffee
09:00 – 09:15
Welcome Day 2
09:15 – 09:45
Laws of Form Engendered by a Cybernetic Process
Vanilla Beer
09:45 – 10:15
A Lion's Teeth
Andrew Crompton
10:15 – 10:45
The Unknown Storyteller
Leon Conrad
10:45 – 11:30
Coffee Break
11:30 – 13:30
Excursion: Stafford Beer Archive
13:30 – 15:30
15:30 – 16:30
Panel Discussion II
Philippe Michelin, Joao Leao, Fred Cummins
16:30 – 17:15
Coffee Break
17:15 – 17:45
Forms of Uncertainty
Florian Grote
17:45 – 18:15
Normativity Reconsidered: From Laws of Form to the Form of Law
Jan Hendrik Ritter
18:15 – 18:45
An Ontological Interpretation of Laws of Form
Randolph Dible
18:45 – 19:45
Panel Discussion III
Luke Robinson and Participants
19:45 – 20:00
Closing the Conference
Graham Ellsbury
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