Abstract: Personally and societally, we adapt and learn. We also forget. In this paper we review models for some of these processes in the form of general mechanisms abstracted from the flux of system dynamics in different domains and at different levels of resolution. We argue for the need to distinguish between first and second order interpretations of such models, on the one hand, as observer distinguished mechanisms, and, on the other hand, as the hermeneutics of observers' states of knowing. We go on to consider the implications of our modelling for the survival of individuals, societies and "symbolic subcultures" within societies, giving examples of successful strategies. We conclude by reflexively considering the "symbolic subculture", Cybernetics itself, and consider how best the truths of Cybernetics may be conserved in the context of continuing change and generational renewal. Note: the paper reflects the outcome of a series of conversations between the authors in which they set out to share their understandings of learning and evolution: Hirst, as abstract models and simulations, Scott, as processes in educational systems and Shurville, as processes involved in design and creativity.