INTRODUCTION TO SYSTEMS
Latest Quick Review: 13 JULY 2004 \22oct2002\\\\BKsystem?\01INTROD
ANNOTATED OUTLINE [WHICH IS A SELF-CONTAINED ABSTRACT OF THE WHOLE BOOK/ AS WAS MY INTRODUCTION FOR THE POLICY BOOK]
THE EVOLUTIOTNARY IMPERATIVES: CAUSALITY; AND ORDERLINESS
Understanding causes and connections has been a human need from quite early in the long and glacial march of human evolution.
Concomitant with the above was another idea: that reality was not out there just heaped and scattered but that there was some orderliness or a system to the buzzing and booming confusion called reality.
“SYSTEMS THINKING” BEFORE “SYSTEM SCIENCE”
Indeed systems thinking preceded systems science . Cultures and religious traditions over the centuries had developed and preached systems thinking before it was made into systems theory, systemology, system sciences or system studies.
Philosophical and religious traditions from Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Grecian and Roman, Judeo-Christian, Islamic to those from Sikhism all have the systems theme embedded in them.
BERTALANFY'S CONTRIBUTIONS � LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY: THE FATHER OF SYSTEMS SCIENCE
The father of systems theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy gave us the General Systems Theory (GST). He did not merely give birth to a new field but also nurtured it and projected its future possibilities as an epistemology and ideology. [N.B. Society for General Systems Research was established in 1954.]
As part of the preparation for a conference to celebrate the 100 Anniversary of Bertalanffy�s Birthday (September 19, 1901, Vienna) the organizing committee of the conference in their preliminary announcement for the conference sponsored by the University of Technology of Vienna to be held during November 1-4, 2001 distributed the following list of contributions of Bertalanffy to systems theory and practice, as part of one year long electronic symposium (Hyperlink email@example.com) [ELOHIMJL]
The following is copied verbatim from an e-mail from Elohimjl:
1. Bertalanffy�s work in the historical context
1.1 Methodological approaches Organismic Biology, Organismic Systems Psychology, General Systems insights in Social Sciences, Perspectivism (Systems Epistemology), General Systems Theory.
1.2 The New Image of Man (as the Main Ideological Concern) How the Homo sapiens has created his environment of his own out of symbols, why the humans have potentially the ability to direct their own evolution on ethical levels, through the cultivation of those symbols that are called human values.
1.3 Conceptual contributions Making more explicit the meaning of: law, emergence, growth, self-regulation, self-organizing forces, open systems, negentropy, steady state, equifinality in bioligical, psychological, societal, economic, political and cultural systems.
1.4 Bertalanffys Warnings Denouncing the prevailing circumstances that every day are making more necessary to continue fighting against reductionist approaches and mechanical interpretations, against robotomorphism and zoomorphism, against scientism and behaviorism, against absolutism and dogmatism in economics, social and cultural domains.
Bertalanffy�s Concept of General Systems Weltanschauung (GSW)
2.1 GSW as a theoretical tool for grasping the meaning of Unity Through Diversity
2.2 GSW as an ideological criteria for maintaining and improving Unity Through Diversity
2.3 GSW as a methodological tool and an ideological engagement in determining the kind of actions needed for reaching Sustainable Development as a steady state or flow equilibrium for the evolvement of humankind.
2.4 GSW as an ideological concern indispensably needed for creating and implementing a Terrestrial Bill of Human Commitments that may contribute to guarantee the application of the Terrestrial Bill of Human Rights.
3. Systems Thinking Today
3.2 Is Systems Thinking Necessarily Holistic? Reductionism and holism looked at from current scientific practice.
3.2 Is Innovation Necessary for Sustainability, or vice versa?
3.3 Systems Thinking on Ethics
The focus here is on the normative impact inherent in systems thinking. Is there something implicit in systems thinking that could be viewed as behavioral guide for doing science - - a scientific ethics?
3.4 Systems Thinking in Science
This point shall provide examples of scientific practice using systems thinking. Of course, the focus should rather be on surveys of scientific areas (e.g. micro-biology, evolutionary economics) than on specific case studies.
3.5 The Evolution of Systems Thinking
After the collection of current appearances of systems thinking in science, it is straight forward to investigate its evolution over time - - one hundred years provide a large sample to dare a look into its future.
3.6 Systems Thinking on Global Political-Economic Processes
The direct link from systems thinking to global human evolution, to its political economy, will be approached here.
3.7 Ideology - - Knowledge Systems and Socio-economic Dynamics
This point is meant to provide a spotlight on a particularly important part of political economics, namely the influence on behavior by means of information production.
3.8 Tools of Systems Thinking
This point shall be a forum for the discussion of the different formal, and particularly algorithmic tools that systems thinking currently uses.
Within the same E-Mail Conversation above about Bertalanffy, several other things were said about him:
A CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF THE LIVING ORGANISM AS AN “OPEN SYSTEMS”
Open system being an entity that was continuously interacting with its environment in order to keep its living features in operation. This interaction obligates us to keep the outside environment in best shape.
BERTALANFFY's GLOBAL SENSIBILITIES
Already in the 1960s, Ludwig von Bertalanffy was saying that � the overall fate of the world depends on the adoption by humanity of a new set of values, based on a general systems Weltanschauung (world-view). He also suggested that we seek another basic outlook: the world as organization, (which) would profoundly change the categories of our thinking and influence our practical attitudes, as we must envision the biosphere as a whole - - with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependencies. [Elohimjl, Feb 13, 2002]
Others who have read Bertalanffy has also noted his passion for “globalization with human intents and a human face” (my phrase). According to Mark Davidson (1983):
“He advocated that we dare to broaden our loyalty from nation to globe and urged that we become patriots of the planet, endeavoring to think and act primarily as members of humanity (and) pledging our allegiance to humanity. Without necessarily diluting our own individual and cultural identity, he said, we must begin protecting the individual and cultural identity of others. He urged that we begin pledging our allegiance to humanity and to the earth on which we stand, one planet indivisible or not planet at all.
In his call for a universal declaration of interdependence, he advocated a new global reality: �an ethos which does not center on individual good and individual value alone, but on the adaptation of mankind as a global system, to its new environment.' The need for this new morality, he said was imperative.
�We are dealing with emergent new realities; no longer with isolated groups of men, but with a systematically interdependent global community. It is this level of [reality] which we must keep before our eyes if we are able to inspire large-scale action designed to assure our collective and hence our individual survival.�
BERTALANFFY'S PROPOSAL FOR A “TOP-DOWN” APPROACH!
Top-down models of social processes have been in general disrepute and dismissed not only as undemocratice but also as dysfunctional. Elohimjl thinks that this approach had too often been set aside due to the assumption that analytic procedures are better than holistic endeavors. Bertalanffy it seems had used the language of top-down to communicate the idea that to comprehend human efforts and concerns holistically, it was indispensable to have a top-down view. A worldview is available only from the Top of the World. [My view is that top-down and bottom-up should not be viewed in an either/or relationship]
Elohimjl in his e-mail message firstname.lastname@example.org to Bertalanffy List, October 14, 2002.
THEORETICAL AND RESEARCH DIVERSIFICATIONS IN SYSTEMS THEORY DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY
The last half century, saw a tremendous diversification of concepts, theories and research interests that came to rest under the great big tent of systems theory.
[Note to myself: FIRST DO AN ALPHABETICAL NOTE-TAKING, THEN DEVELOP: A full historical chronology to capture the dynamic within the scope of this short chapter.
Bertalanffy was a biologist and hence, systems theory's biological connection. Work of Miller on Living Systems.
AUTOPOIESIS /SELF-ORGANIZATION /SELF-EGULATION/ SELF-REFERENTIAL CONTROL
BRAIN RESE [I have myself forgotten what �RESE� was!!!
CONSCIOUSNESS: AS AN AREA PAR EXCELLENC FOR SYSTEMIC APPROACHES
CYBERNETICS: The dictionary defines it as “the science that treats of the principles of control and communication as they apply to the operation of complex machines and the functions of organisms.” [It could have said: “control and communication through feedback loops.”]
SOCIAL CYBERNETICS / INTERACTIVE CYBERNETICS/ SECOND-ORDER CYBERNETICS
The phrases social cybernetics, second order cybernetics, interactive cybernetics are also in use. These are for soft-systems analysis. Sp.: cyberneticians.
======= HOLISM ======= Holism is a philosophical theory that a material object, especially a living organism, has a reality other and greater than the sum of its constituent parts. [Funk and Wagnalls� Standard College Dictionary, 1968. [The word is indeed holism and not wholism which does not exist - - even though discussions of holism have to be conducted using the words, �whole�.]
The discussion of what is the true nature of �whole� has continued. In a conversation within the email@example.com, April 17-18, 2001. Don Watson asserted that a whole is a gestalt from its beginning to its end, and the quality of wholeness is a map of organized relationships, a map of parts.
Citing Aristotle, Vladimir Degtiar suggested that the quality of wholeness is a map of organized relationships, a map of parts.” Vladimir Degtiar also asserted that at any one level of evolutionary level, neither organization, nor matter/parts within the organization pre-exist. Death of a whole means the destruction of both parts and their map of a whole. My friend, the bright Professor Thomas Mandel [I wrote it more than two years ago and hold on to it as firmly a ever!!!!/Bhola] said that Aristotle did not know everything. We should - - by - - now know that organization precedes.
Don Watson talks, in this conversation, of his Theory of Enformed Systems (TES), a theory of wholes, Enformy being the fundamental, conserved capacity to organize. Here he also talked of 4-dimensional organizational maps of any physical system. He also connected it with complexity.
Don Watson asks a rhetorical question: Why do I say that TES is fruitful? Then he himself answers: Because it predicts a wide array of radically-related phenomena that, superficially, do not appear to be related. These phenomena include (1) life itself; (2) the evolution of species; (3) all aspects of consciousness, including memory, curiosity, telepathy, psychokinesis, and precognition, and the homing behavior of pigeons and other animals; (4) quantum entanglement and results of wave/particle experiments; (5) social bonding; and (6) afterlife and mediumship.
He reminds us that: organization pre-exists physical systems. We need to study organization per se.
MATHEMATICS NON-LINEAR SCIENCE
1. PHILOSOPHY OF SYSTEMS / ALSO PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 2. PHYSICS AND META-PHYSICS SCIENRIFIC COGNITIO
SPIRITUALISM (INCLUDING RELIGION)
Body Text 2 Spiritualism also covers religion in the larger meaning. Religion (from its Latin root, religere) means to tie together
Ideally, it a principle, a system of thought of universal significance.
Religion is a system that deals with all aspects of human existence: from conception to death, education social behavior, sexual behavior, social welfare, economics, politics, health, thoughts. For this reason, systems theory has become most interested in religious, because it colors all human systems and can encompass total humanity.
Body Text 2 SYSTEMS
SYSTEMATICS / SYSTEMS ENGINEERING / MODELING AND SIMULATION
In the area of industry, manufacturing and telecommunication. E.G.: C.E. Shannon, A Mathematical thoery of communication
In our days that guy who worked in Japan after the war. Danning???? On Total Efficiency or something.
SYSTEMS THINKING UNDER-THEORIZED???
All this theoretical activity notwithstanding, Banathy considered the area Under-theorized (19xy). Peter Checkland (1992) recently criticized the field for ….
There are others who regret the fact that systems thinkers are so consumed by their conceptualizations and theorizing that they have forgotten the true nature of systems and have reified systems as if they were real and existed in nature independently of human conceptions.
A CONSOLIDATION AND CONCRETIZATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY
[According to me] Both a consolidation, and a concretization of the systems theory is necessary.
Most people, and among them those who call themselves systems thinkers, are unable to make sense of the systems theory terrain today. They stagger and stumble, with no compus, no map. (I am glad I called it a terrain, not a conceptual map.)
This consolidation has to take place along two lines: Philosophic-Epistemological; and Cybernetic (the means for improving the functionality of systems).
Philosophicallly as Banathy points out…?
Epistemological consolidation is even more important. At this time, the systems theory tradition seems to be unaware of its own epistemological nature! The literature of systems theory seldom mentions constructivism and dialectical thinking [Tom!, More recently, I was pleased to see your inputs to a discussion on systems in which you almost equated systems with dialectics] not realizing that systems theory is premised on constructivist thinking and dialectical thinking. Systems do not exitst in nature they are constructed. Concepts of interdependence and emergence which are so germane to the concept of systems cannot be handled without dialectical theory and logic. Hence my idea of an epistemic triangle, with systems thinking at the base of the triangle.
Constructivist thinking . That reality does not exist out there but is individually and socially constructed, reconstructed and reconstructed.
It implies that systems too do not exist in nature. They are constructed.
Weinberg (1975) reminded us long ago that “a system is a way of looking at the world. A way, not the way. It is a point of view, it is not knowledge nor truth, for is there 'truth'? The limitation in our explanations and understandings is the relation between the observer and the thing, the properties of any particular constraint will depend on both the real thing and on the observer. It follows that a substantial part of the theory of organizations will be concerned with properties that are not intrinsic to the thing but the relational between the observer and thing. Our laws and descriptions of systems are but heuristics devices that don't tell us when to stop. When we confuse heuristic devices or tools as reality or real objects, we may limit our undersandings of systems.”
“The system has no 'purpose' for 'purpose' is a relation, not a thing to 'have.' A system may have divergent or dissimilar purposes to two independent observers. So who is to say the 'real purpose' of a system? The people within the system? The people it serves? The people who observe it?”
The concept of emergence itself is worth examination. “Emergent properties are the relationships between system and observer. Properties 'emerge' for a particular observer when he or she could not or did not predict their appearance. But demonstrations that a property could have been predicted have nothing to do with emergence. By recognizing emergence as a relationship between the observer and what is observed we understand that properties will 'emerge' when we put together more and more complex systems. In other words, the property of 'emergence' no longer emerges for us, though it surprises those who take the absolute view.”
Weinberg then goes on to quote Lewis and Langford (1959) who had said: “Systems are thoroughly man-made… When we include a given relation in a system, or omit it, we may do well or ill; but such omission indicates no falsity. The justification for one's procedure, in this respect, is purely pragmatic; it depends upon the relevance of what is included or omitted to the purposes which the system is designed to satisfy…. When we do succeed in making ourselves more aware of what is going on inside our own heads, the outside half of general systems thinking will be easy.”
Dialectical thinking [Tom ! I plan to use the materials you put on the Internet on Dialectical Theory to write a paragraph or two for insertion here.]
Concretization of the General Systems Theory (GST) has to take place in several ways. To the General Systems Theory (GST), we need to add a General Systems Taxonomy (G'S'T') which can deal with the particularities of existential systems without violating the generally shared nature of all systems. To do this we will have to organize systems on a continuum of interactivity and at the same time taxonomize them in terms of their substance from the physical-biological to the social-spiritual. This will enable us also to avoid the confusion between systematics and systemics, and enable us to use substantive social scientific knowledge to intervene in the design, and change of systems.
An intermediate model of planned change, based on the assumptions of systems theory (as part of an epistemic triangle) has to be adopted by systems practitioners. Such a model exist in the form of the configuational theory of planned change or the CLER model. [Bhola, H.S. 1988. The CLER Model of Innovation Diffusion, Planned Change and Development: A Conceptual Update and Applications. Knowledge and Society: The International Journal of Knowledge Transfer. 1, 56-66.]
FIRST THE MATTER OF DEFINING APPLIED SYSTEMS THEORY
To be so-called applied systems theory will have to be applicable and usable in solving real-life problems relating to analyzing systems, designing and re-designing systems, intervening in systems to change them, and evaluating their performance.
Discussions of applied systems theory are conducted in terms of soft systems methodology and heuristic approaches, and now critical theory.
Our approach, CLER inside the epistemic triangle. Research methodology bias: Dewey�s warranted assertions.
FUNCTIONAL ETHICAL SYSTEMS
THE ETHICS OF LARGE SYSTEMS (?): Lazlo. The idea that larger, inclusive systems were thereby more ethical.
During the transition from the second millennium to the third millennium, systems thinkers have come to be worried sick about the condition of the homosphere and the coming disaster that no body seems to want to avoid.
RADICALIZATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY: CRITICAL SYSTEMS THEORY
Habermas connection. Critical systems analysis means analysis in terms of ethics x power x pluralism.
Talk of “assumptional analysis” and structural thiking.“
DYSFUNCSTIONAL SYSTEMS THAT DIE
MODERN DAY CONCERNS OF SYSTEMS THINKERS
The modern day concerns of system scientists are many: - Demography
- Environment modeling
- Business strategy
- Public sector planning
- Community development and community care
- Family Therapy
- Organization Development and Management
- Linguistic Systems
SYSTEMS SCIENCE METHODOLOGIES
The question should now be asked: Do we have a systems science methodology? Or methodologies? The answer is No. Interdisciplinary approaches have not emerged. The scientists have engaged in mechanical association hoping that such discussion will give birth to a holistic area and then to an emergent methodology.
APPLICATIONS OF SYSTEMS THINKING:
PROBLEMS OF DESCRIPTION AND INTERVENTION IN HUMAN AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS
SYSTEMS THINKING AND EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL INNOVATION
SYSTEMS THINKING AND ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING
SYSTEMS THINKING AND EVALUATION PRACTICE
SYSTEMS SCIENTISTS AND THEIR WORKS Rapoport, Anatol. 1950. The Goals of Man, A Study of Semantic Orientations.
Heinz von Foester. 1960. Doomsday Formula. Science About demography. Population explosion [von Foester died 2002 at 90.]
Heinz was also a constructivist who was a poineer in proving that the observation of two people will differ because of their individual interpretations. He also talked of � circular and causal feedback mechanisms in biological and social systems.�
ANNOTATED B BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SYSTEMS CLASSICS
Gerald Midgley. 2002. Systems Thinking. (Four Volume Set, 1664 Pages). Sage: