User Tools

Site Tools


This is an old revision of the document!

A PCRE internal error occured. This might be caused by a faulty plugin

**Dear Visitor** of the Primer on Systems Science site, you are entering a **highway of thought with many turn-offs**. Systems Science originated in the first half of the 20th century as a **backlash against the growing specialization** of the sciences, and against the loss of overview, of philosophical perspective, concomitant to this. This motivation is visible in all the different approaches. **But the ways and methods chosen to deal with this problem differ vastly.** All are called systems science or systems theory or systems approach. For that reason, on the systems science highway, you can reach a number of quite different destinations. If you don't have a clear idea of what your desired destination is, you may err around and risk to get frustrated. So we advise you to consult the list of destinations and to make your choice, before you spent a lot of time reading texts that are expounding ideas that do not fit into your fields of interest. **Different destinations sought-after by different advocates of systems science:** - a general concept for networking the specialized scientific disciplines for solving complex problems (see article below) - structural similarities that transcend single disciplines, - an approach to unite the specialized scientific languages into one overall scientific language, - methods to construct quantified mathematical computerized models for complex problems, - introductions to the new sciences like information science, catastrophe theory, chaos theory, - approaches to ground holistic thinking, - analyses and solutions for the central world problems, - a consistent personal world view. (Author: Eberhard Umbach) The subsequent paragraphs, by the same author, outline destination 1. ====================================================================================== Eberhard Umbach ===== Systems science - ===== ===== a networking tool for the specialized disciplines ===== ==== A description for novices in plain language ==== Version 2005-6-15 Our lives are dominated by **specialists**. Specialists' knowledge and methods affect more and more the lives of organizations and of ordinary people: different technologies from automobile to computer, medicine, law, business, economics. And the majority of people in modern societies earn their living by exercising a specialized activity. Most of us are specialists, and we all to a large extent depend on specialists. **No one specialist can have a sufficient overview of problems of large entities **like an industrial corporation or of problems of the whole society, like social security or unemployment or foreign policy or the protection of resources and the environment. The persons being in charge of managing these entities call again on specialists. In all domains, specialists are making suggestions on the basis of their partial views. **The integration of these suggestions can be complicated and often demands an appropriate philosophy and appropriate intellectual techniques.** **Systems science offers both,** ¨ * the **large view on today's problems** and * the **terminology and methodology** that allows for the inclusion of all the needed scientific and practical knowledge **into problem solving processes** of various kinds. The heart of systems science is the **concept of system**. The simplest **definition** of a system is: **A system consists of at least two parts or elements and one or more relations between these elements.** Example: A married couple (system) consists of at least two persons that maintain a cooperative relationship among them. **"Relation**(ship)" is often overlooked as the decisive aspect of a system, but it is clear from the example that two persons that just met in a train and have a conversation, have no ressemblance whatsoever with a married couple. If at all, the two strangers make upt a completely different system. Thus: The special relationship makes a system out of the elements. This is expressed by the often cited phrase: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts." I give **more illustrations **to this basic idea: **Technical systems ** show the decisive importance of relationships also. The parts of an automobile, as long as they are separate (all of them or only some of them) in the plant, do not form an automobile yet. Once they are all fixed in their intended position, then the parts form an automobile with completely new properties compared to the properties of the disconnected parts. Other examples of systems are the solar system, the planet Earth, nations like Germany or the United States of America, the economic system of a nation, an ecosystem, a machine, an atom, but also a work of art, a language, a text written in a particular language, like a drama or a letter or a computer program. A typology of systems is given in the accompanying text, section 2.2.(see link at the end). The examples given last are fairly easy to grasp as systems. But **problems of real life**, be it the peronal or the public or the world sphere, are **wicked**: what the important elements and relations are, is difficult to discern. Each specialist has his focus and denies the importance of other elements and relationships that are outside his focus. The often-heard statement in this kind of situation is: **We have to take the “Whole” into account.** Holistic thinking is the motto then. But **what is the whole in a given situation ? To determine this is part of the work of systems scientists.** To take a holistic approach means: **By all scientific and pragmatic methods, hard and soft**, the problem situation is analyzed **to find out what are the relevant elements and relationships**.Once this is done, one has to decide which of them are more important than others and have to be included in the further treatment of the problem. An **example** may make that clearer: In Germany, in he 1990s, extraction of resources from household waste was seen as a technical problem by decision makers on the level of the Federal Ministry of Environment. They wanted to gradually develop facilities and counted on the citizens to use them. They had overlooked the eagerness of a majority of Germans to recycle the abundant plastic waste. The limited facilities for recycling in the year 1993 were swamped by the huge masses of material collected. The responsible body could not handle that adequatly, which in turn aroused distrust among the citzens. A holistic approach at the beginning, e.g. comprising a representative survey, could have avoided that. Once the idea of systemhood, of wholeness, is understood, two question arise very often: This is **the first**: The systems concept applies to practically all phenomena of our world. **Isn't the systems concept too general to allow for meaningful statements ?** The answer is: **We need a very general concept**, if it is supposed to be applicable to hopefully all domains of the world. The system concept **shares the property of generality with other inventions** of the human mind that enable us to gather, process and communicate information. The most important of these instruments is '''language. This is a mental instrument that allows us to describe diverse aspects of reality. "System" is basically a word in a language, and it shares this generality with other expression like "thing", "object", "phenomenon", that can designate anything in the outer world. In the context of language, the **number system** is equally applicable to phenomena of most diverse character. You can count galaxies, planets, people, cars, animals, atoms etc.. **The number system is equally universal as the concept of "system"**. Despite the generality of the concept, we use numbers without any doubts as to utility and epistemological soundness. The systems approach is equally useful and scientifically sound. The **second question** refers to the character of systemhood: Is the statement "A given set of elements, e.g. the biosphere, form a system" a statement of objective fact or a statement of subjective interpretation, of imagination, something that is only relevant in the sphere of ephemeral human observers ? The answer is contained in the modern analysis of the relations between humanity and the world. Two interlinked approaches analyse in a cogent way this field: * **evolutionary epistemology** and * **moderate constructivism**. An introduction to both is contained in chapter 3 of the accompanying text (see link at the end). **An integrative summary** of both concepts follows: In the course of the evolution of life, organisms, especially animals, have developed more and more efficient sens organs to process emissions (understood by the organism as signals) from their surroundings and form models of their world. These models contributed to survival in a hostile environment. Humanity (the species Homo sapiens) owes its domination of the planet Earth to its greatly increased mental capacities to think rationally (to use logically and empirically sound models). The capacities for that are located in the frontal cortex. They allowed us to develop **language, culture, and science** as cumulative systems of models of the world and of norms of behaviour. ("Cumulative" in this context means: altered by individuals in their lifetime or by cultures in the course of their spread, and optimized with the intention of making it fitter to the incumbent challenges.) Thinking rationally with humans also means that they developed a culture system, on the basis of language, that allows for optimization during millenia. Especially in the last 500 years, efficient techniques of development, conservation and mass communication of such models gave new dimensions to human lives that were unthinkable before. The overall effects of that on the future of this planet are not at all accounted for yet. These models have a double character: * **They are in the first place constructs of human minds.** They represent the world views and modes of action of many generations of humans. They govern our perceptions, thoughts, and behaviour. Human cultures and societies are constantly testing, explicitly and implicitly, the fit of these models with the outer world. Individuals, organizations, and societies with inadequate models tend to run into difficulties, at times with disastrous results. * **After models are tested, they can be regarded as possessing a resemblance with the outer world.** They can be regarded as models of parts of "the World", of "Reality". The resemblance is very incomplete, though. Reality is always much more complicated and diverse than we imagine and that our models tell us. But the fact that behaviour based on processing the signals from our senses contributes to our staying alive, can be taken as a plausible indication that the resemblance exists. The technical term for this resemblance is "homomorphy". The **answer** to the above question on the character of a system statement is therefore: **To call e.g. the biosphere a system is mostly a matter of humans observing, analyzing, generalizing. But the evidence from hundreds of years of science and from personal experience make it plausible that a homomorphy with Reality exists.** In sum, systems science, systems theory, systems concepts, with their corollaries, are a type of philosophy, terminology, and methodology appropriate to deal with the most diverse domains of the outer and inner world of human beings. **Due to this generality, systems science is capable of networking specialized sciences and fields of knowledge, and integrate concrete knowledge about specific situations into complex problem solving processes.** **Common sense** does the same, but in a much **cruder** way, much more prone to oversimplification and to error. A more detailed account (66 pages) on the topics treated here can be found under: hochwertige Digitalkameras und Scanner machen uns das Einfügen von Fotos in Textdokumente leicht. Menü EINFÜGEN-GRAFIK, Befehl AUS DATEI aufrufen – Fertig. Und schon können Sie Ihr Foto an der gewünschten Stelle im Word-Dokument platzieren. Aber: Über kurz oder lang werden Sie vermutlich auf diese Weise echte Probleme bekommen, denn Word ist nach wie vor lediglich ein ausgezeichnetes Textverarbeitungsprogramm. Nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Fotos stehen erst an zweiter Stelle. Das heißt: Sollten Sie „Word“ mit Fotos überfordern, wird Ihr Computer vermutlich bald „in die Knie gehen“. Entscheidend bei Fotos ist die Dateigröße. Jedes Fotos, das Sie in ein Word-Dokument einfügen, wird standardmäßig direkt in einem Word-Dokument gespeichert. Sie müssen sich das so vorstellen: Die Word-Datei ist eine Art „Container“, der verschiedene Elemente wie Text, Fotos, Tabellen etc. aufnimmt. Für Text und Tabellen ist gewöhnlich genügend Speicherraum im „Container“ vorhanden. Fotos bringen dagegen häufig schnell Probleme. Wenn Sie zum Beispiel mit einer aktuellen Digitalkamera ein Foto in bester Bildqualität erstellen, ist dies nämlich meist zwischen 1,5 und 4 Megabyte groß. Zehn Bilder davon bringen es im schlechtesten Fall insgesamt auf stolze 40 Megabyte. Das schafft Word vermutlich nicht. Damit Ihr Textverarbeitungsprogramm nicht kollabiert, müssen Sie die Fotos unbedingt bereits vor dem Einfügen auf die richtige Größe bringen und nicht erst in „Word“ passend „zusammenquetschen“. Ein Foto, das zum Beispiel mit einer 6-Megapixel-Kamara erstellt wurde (die Dateigröße beträgt dann um die 3 Megabyte) ließe sich in bester Qualität bis zu einer Größe von DIN 4-4 nutzen. Eine derartige Qualität benötigen Sie wahrscheinlich nicht. Fotos für Ihren – nehmen wir einmal an – Jahresbericht des Tennisvereins haben meisten nur maximal halbe Postkartengröße. Sie könnten also getrost ein Foto von einer 6 Megapixel-Kamera auf ein Achtel reduzieren, ohne, dass es zu sichtbaren Qualitätsverlusten beim Ausdruck käme. Um ein Bild bereits vor dem Einfügen in Word auf die richtige Größe zu bringen, gehen Sie so vor: Erstellen Sie eine Kopie des einzufügenden Fotos, sodass Ihr Original für andere Aufgaben weiterhin zur Verfügung steht. Öffnen Sie das Foto mit Ihrem Bildbearbeitungsprogramm. Ermitteln Sie hier die aktuelle Fotogröße in Pixel. Jetzt können Sie festlegen, wie stark Sie das Foto verkleinern können. Bei einer halben Postkartengröße als Bildformat genügen zum Beispiel 1,5 bis 3 Megapixel. Ist das Originalfoto zum Beispiel 3008 x 2000 Pixel groß, könnte es in der Breite und Höhe um 50 Prozent reduziert werden (= 1504 x 1000 Pixel). Nachdem Sie die Größe des Fotos über die entsprechende Funktion in ihrem Bildbearbeitungsprogramm angepasst haben (Achtung: Breiten- und Höhenverhältnis nicht verändern), speichern Sie das Foto ab.

general_orientations_of_systems_science.1182871602.txt.gz · Last modified: 2020/07/27 15:36 (external edit)