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From: (chris schaefer) To: hi tom: I'm thinking this is a great idea.

here are some of my thought: 1) I'd love to see the discussion have a bit of pre-planning, an agenda of sorts. I don't believe I really have enough of the big picture to help with this.

2) It might also be interesting to have some sort of “goal” in mind. I realize that the true outcome will not be determined until after the discussion, but that doesn't precude us from trying, as a group, to write up some sort of summary or something following each topic of discussion.

Looking forward to it all! Thomasm451 -Chris-

From: (Milton L. Dawes) To:Thomasm451

Hi Tom

Great idea. I will be interested.


From: (Terry Murphy) To:Thomasm451

At 10:49 PM 11/25/96 -0500, you wrote:

Let me know what you think about this… >
tom >

I'm not an expert on anything, and I know nothing about systems theory. My only credential is a 'no-credential' credential. But you know that, and I am sure it doesn't bother you.

I will participate, if you like (but remember, not even I know what to expect from a character like me… :-) ).

aloha, terry

From: (eric steven sommer) To: Thomasm451

Hi Thomas,

I'm very busy right now, but your proposal sounds worthwhile to me, and I would, if invited, be interested in participating.

Eric Sommer,

From: (Dr. Gary Boyd) To:Thomasm451

It's agood Idea Tom, You might well include Ken Burkhardt from Ryerson who has a handle on the Aristotelian concept of unity through shared substances . Ill see if I can make the time. The kinds of unity which are meaningful to me are: a) The unity of “spaceship earth” b) The unity through coherence and recognized complementarities of all (real) science. Also, - the dis-unity implicit in deconstructionism and some forms of constructionism, and relativism can deny us the leverage to make a better world, or even a viable one!..

Gary B.

From: (tom aagdii) To: Thomasm451

hi tom,

watch out for authority. please could yop tell me the name of the newsgroup adress, because i want to accesse it through netscape.

by the way, i want to ask youabout few things, like how do you keep up with so manyu newes groups, about note taking, about organizing your work and and learning.

cheers tagdi

Date: 96-11-27 12:04:39 EST From: (chris schaefer) To: Thomasm451

In a message dated 96-11-25 23:17:24 EST, you write: >
« 1) I'd love to see the discussion have a bit of pre-planning, an agenda of > sorts. I don't believe I really have enough of the big picture to help > with this. » >
I got an idea. Bela sent me a overview type paper as his contribution. Bela >is all the expert we need. I'll type in his paper over five days, essentially >an overview of state of the art academic systems. This will set the tone. > You, as the reader, will simply wait until you want to say something at any >time during the first five days. This second set of papers will open the >discussion.

That sounds like a good plan. Looking forward to it all!


To:Thomasm451 CC: acollen

Your idea is admirable, but I am not impressed, principally because of my experience with the great inefficiency and wastefulness of the chit- chat messages online.

Thus, please take me off your lists altogether for now. I am overburdened with messages, mostly what I call junk email and information pollution; perhaps it is because I have several key projects already in process which take up my email activity.

I wish you well with your project, and no doubt you will hear from again in the future, when I can get some time to participate.

From: (J.C. Graham) To: Thomasm451

Thanks for sending this, Thomas, and for including me in your plan for discussion. It sounds very interesting, and I applaud your initiative!

Make Time Good,

Chris >

rom: Bvogl Thomasm451

Tom, You wrote..

I think this is a splendid idea and I would certainly want to subscribe to receive ongoing messages. A Seminar on wholeness and integration would be most interesting to me as I scan what mainstream educators consider integration and wholeness…. Glad to see you back. Did I ever tell you how much I enjoyed the papers you sent me? I'm moving to a smaller place now so hope that means I have more time to spend on line…. Cheers, Barbara

Appendix A

Appendix A Keynote speech from International Complexity[[|(approve sites)]]

By Rodger Bradbury, A Keynote Speech Complexity International Excerpted from

Grand Challenge or Toy Story …. But look over there! Those guys look asleep; but where are the TVs?? Got it - it's an AAAS meeting! This looks awfully like the famous 1954 AAAS meeting in Berkeley. Now they were glory days for science! Korea was over, Vietnam was still a French war; no sputnik yet to shake our confidence in the stately progress of Western science; students wore ties - not tie-dyed - on the campus; and everyone else was asleep in front of the TV. Berkeley was still just a campus, not a place to “get your shit together”.

So what are they doing here? Let's listen in. Hey, these guys are reading their papers to each other and talking about forming a Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory. As they said in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “Who are those guys?” I can just recognise a few. There's Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the allometrist, and Kenneth Boulding, the economist. There's Nick Rashevsky from the Committee on Mathematical Biology at Chicago, and Anatol Rapoport, the mathematician from Ann Arbor, and folks from Bell Labs and the London School of Economics and the Zoology Department at Cambridge. There are chemists and psychologists. This is quite a scene. There are even a couple of post-modern (in a strictly fifties sense) flaky liberation biology types hyping the general systems nature of the rights of man, for chrissake.

Have we lucked out or what? These guys are just like us. They could be our ancestors.

And here they are, talking all kinds of neat stuff and forming a society and all. They've got papers on topology in biology, on closed and open systems, on entropy and information, on general systems as a new paradigm for science (but of course they don't use the word “paradigm” - Kuhn is still in intellectual nappies right now). They are also talking about models and modelling, adaptive and random systems. No kidding: Anatol Rapoport has a 1951 paper called Connectivity of random nets. Wow!

They are even talking about complexity. How about these section headers: The concept of complexity; Complexity in biological systems; Systems with the property of evolution; Does learning involve an increase in complexity; Complexity in time? This is all from the paper by Pringle, the guy from Cambridge - and he's a behaviourist who quotes Volterra the mathematical ecologist, Schr(dinger the physicist, Shannon the mathematician, Fisher the geneticist, and of course von Bertalanffy, who was to become the chair of this society. So this Pringle, whom I have never heard of, uses all the flash buzz words, cites widely across the disciplines and knows his grantsmanship. And this is all lifted from a paper he wrote in 1951. I bet these guys even gave the rest of science the shits with their smug, superior, nah-nah-we-know-something-you-don't-know airs, just like we do.

So maybe our meeting today should really be the 50th meeting of the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory, and not just the 3rd meeting of the Complex Systems Society or whatever. But it isn't. There are big questions here. Like: Did these guys stuff up? Did we? How long till lunch? -30-


There is nothing that will cure the senses but the soul, and nothing that will cure the soul but the senses.

–Oscar Wilde

It's hard to say exactly when modern science began. Many scholars would date it at roughly 1600, when both Kepler and Galileo started using precision measurement to map the universe. But one thing is certain: starting from whatever date we choose, modern science was, in many important ways and right from the start, deeply antagonistic to established religion. Most of the early scientists, of course, remained true believers, genuinely embracing the God of the Church; many of them sincerely believed that they were simply discovering God's archetypal laws as revealed in the book of nature. And yet, with the introduction of the scientific method, a universal acid was released that would slowly, inevitably, painfully eat into and corrode the centuriesold steel of religion, dissolving, often beyond recognition, virtually all of its central tenets and dogmas. Within the span of a mere few centuries, intelligent men and women in all walks of life could deeply and profoundly do something that would have utterly astonished previous epochs: deny the very existence of Spirit. Despite the entreaties of the tenderhearted in both camps, the relation of science and religion in the modern worldthat is, in the last three or four centurieshas changed very little since their introduction to each other in the trial of Galileo, where the scientist agreed to shut his mouth and the Church agreed not to burn him. Many wonderful exceptions aside, the plain historical fact has been that orthodox science and orthodox religion deeply distrust, and often despise, each other. It has been a tense confrontation, a philosophical Cold War of global reach. On the one hand, modern empirical science has made stunning and colossal discoveriesthe cure of diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, and malaria, which racked the ancient world with untold anguish; the engineering of marvels from the airplane to the Eiffel Tower to the space shuttle; discoveries in the biological sciences that verge on the secrets of life itself; advances in computer sciences that are literally revolutionizing human existence; not to mention plopping a person on the moon. Science can accomplish such feats, its proponents maintain, because it utilizes a solid method for discovering truth, a method that is empirical and experimental and based on evidence, not one that relies on myths and dogmas and unverifiable proclamations. And thus science, it proponents believe, has made discoveries that have relieved more pain, saved more lives, and advanced knowledge incomparably more than any religion and its pieinthesky God. Humanity's only real salvation is a reliance on scientific truth and its advance, not a projection of human potentials onto an illusory Great Other before whom we grovel and beg in the most childish and undignified of fashions. There is a strange and curious thing about scientific truth. As its own proponents constantly explain, science is basically valuefree. It tells us what is, not what should be or ought to be. An electron isn't good or bad, it just is; the cell's nucleus is not good or bad, it just is; a solar system isn't good or bad, it just is. Consequently science, in elucidating or describing these basic facts about the universe, has virtually nothing to tell us about good and bad, wise and unwise, desirable and undesirable. Science might offer us truth, but how to use that truth wisely: on this science is, and always has been, utterly silent. Rightly so; that is not its job, that is not what it was designed to do, and we certainly should not blame science for this silence. Truth, not wisdom or value or worth, is the province of science. In the midst of this silence, religion speaks. Humans seem condemned to meaning, condemned to find value, depth, care, concern, worth, significance to their everyday existence. If science will not (and cannot) provide it, then most men and women will look elsewhere. For literally billions of people around the world, religion provides the basic meaning of their lives, the glue of their existence, and offers them a set of guidelines about what is good (e.g., love, care, compassion) and what is not (e.g., lying, cheating, stealing, killing). On the deepest level, religion has even claimed to offer a means of contacting or communing with an ultimate Ground of Being. But by any other name, religion offers what it believes is a genuine wisdom. Fact and meaning, truth and wisdom, science and religion. It is a strange and grotesque coexistence, with valuefree science and valueladen religion, deeply distrustful of each other, aggressively attempting to colonize the same small planet. It is a clash of Titans, to be sure, yet neither seems strong enough to prevail decisively nor graceful enough to bow out altogether. The trial of Galileo is repeated countless times, moment to moment, around the world, and it is tearing humanity, more or less, in half. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread; therefore, the integration of science and religion is the theme of this book. If you are an orthodox religious believer, I would only ask that you relax into the argument and see where it takes you; I do not think you will be dismayed. The primary prerequisite I have placed on this discussion is that both science and religion must find the argument acceptable in their own terms. For this marriage to be genuine, it must have the free consent of both spouses. If you are an orthodox scientist, I would only suggest that, as you have a thousand times in the past when you were working on a problem, let curiosity and wonder bubble up, but in this case don't focus it on a specific solution. Simply let wonder fill your being until it takes you out of yourself and into the staggering mystery that is the existence of the world, a mystery that facts alone can never begin to fill. If Spirit does exist, it will lie in that direction, the direction of wonder, a direction that intersects the very heart of science itself. And you will find, in this adventure, that the scientific method will never be left behind in the search for an ultimate ground. And we all know how to wonder, don't we? From the depths of a Kosmos too miraculous to believe, from the heights of a universe too wondrous to worship, from the insides of an astonishment that has no boundaries, an answer begins to suggest itself, and whispers to us lightly. If we listen very carefully, from within this infinite wonder, perhaps we can hear the gentle promise that, in the very heart of the Kosmos itself, both science and religion will be there together to welcome us home.

K. W.

Boulder, Colorado

Summer 1997

Scheduled Publication Date: February, 1998; Random House, Inc.

Copyright 1996, 1997, Shambhala Publications For More Information Send Email to: Created and Maintained by Mandala Designs



for the 42nd Meeting of the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE SYSTEMS SCIENCES (ISSS) Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 19-24 JULY 1998

CALL FOR PAPERS The Primer Group

The critical need for a synoptic overview of the essentials of systemics is made even more obvious by this statement recently made by Alan McGowen?, a computer scientist:

« « The old, EE (electrical-engineering) and communications theory “cybernetic” “systems science” that came from Weiner, Shannon etc. has pretty much vanished [except maybe for people designing billion channel SETI receivers and GPS-based navigation systems :-)]. The mumbo-jumbo pseudoscience accretions (such as Korzybski) were long ago supplanted by the Chomsky hierarchy and metamathematical work such as Godel's and Turing's and never had any influence – except on very gullible “wholists” who contribute nothing to knowledge.

“Systems science” per se is pretty defunct outside EE, though it was a useful stepping stone toward the science of complexity.» »

The above comments should be taken as a wake-up call, lest the work of forty years is for naught.

Consider these words of Murray Gell-Mann, co-founder of the science of complexity at Sante Fe Institute.

“Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavoir of the whole.”


the last paragraph of the book COMPLEXification? John Casti Sante Fe Institute

“SO we come to the perhaps not so surprising conclusion that the creation of a science of complex systems is really a subtask of the more general and much more ambitious program of creating a theory of models. Complexity–as a science–is merely one of the many rungs on this endless ladder.”


John Brockman The Third Culture; Beyond the Scientific Revolution. 1995, Simon & Schuster New York p 11 (Table of contents)

Murray Gell-Mann “Plectics”

To refer to the subject on which some of us now work as “complexity” seems to me to distort the nature of what we do., because the simplicity of the underlying rules is a critical feature of the whole enterprse. Therefore what I like to say is that the subject consists of the study of simplicity, complexity of various kinds, and complex adaptive systems, with some consideration of complex nonadaptive systems as well … which I call “Plectics.”

Historically, the notions of systemic wholeness (systems) have appeared throughout recorded history in the systems of early Chinese thought (Yin/Yang), and early Western thought. (Empedocles “Earth”)

And then, in the modern era, the pendulum swung the other way, toward scientific analysis and reductionistic separations throughout the scientific era until as recently as the early 1920's, when the notion of wholeness and organism was talked about again by Weiss, Whitehead and Smuts. By 1933, Holism, the whole greater than the sum of the parts, was entered into the Encyclopedia. At that time too, Schroedingers quantum mechanics, of which he states, “form, not substance…” was developed to deal with relationships rather than absolute entities at the elementary particle level.

A biologist working by the name of Ludwig von Bertalanffy was working in his lab when he noticed particularily that there were certain isomorphic structures in the diverse collection of lab models stored on the shelfs of his lab. . This lead to his notion of his theory of general systems which he first wrote about after WW11?. He would later publish his book “General Systems Theory” which created a science of general systems.

He writes Yet there is a third reason for the isomorphism of laws in different realms which is important for the present purpose. In our consideration we started with a general definition of “system”; defined as “a set of elements in interaction” and expresses by the system of equation. No special hypothesis or statements were made about the nature of the system, of its elements or the relations between them. Nevertheless from this purely formal definition of “system” many properties follow which in part are expressed in as well known in various fields of science, and, in part concern concepts previously regarded as anthropomorphic, vitalistic or metaphysical. The parallelism of general conceptions or even special laws in different fields therefore is a consequence of the fact that these are concerned with “systems” and that certain general principles apply to systems irrespective of their nature. Hence principles such as those of wholeness and sum, mechanization, hierarchic order, approached to steady states, equifinality, etc., may appear in quite different disciplines. The isomorphism found in different realms is based of the existence of general system principles, of a more or less well-developed “general system theory.”(pp.84 GST)

That was then, and this is now, best exemplified by Charles Francois, editor of the International Encyclopedia of Systemics and Cybernetics. “Many systems related models and concepts have appeared during the last 50 years. But this occured in a casual and even random way. Some arose in specific disciplines and their general value did not become immediately obvious. Some others were shaped by globally oriented minds, but their usefulness in a transdiciplinarian sense was not perceived by specialists in widely separated fields. It is now time to search everywhere for these scattered bits of systemic knowledge. They should be gathered, related, ordered and explained in a global perspective. We should moreover try to discover which special sets of specific connected tools could be used to understand, explain and better manage complex issues. This is an urgent need if we want to avoid future disasters at gigantic scale. It is altogether the only way to give systemics its real dimension and importance for the future of mankind. This is what the members of the Primer project are trying to achieve.”

The Primer has a twofold purpose. In one sense it is a primer of systemic principles, a handbook on what is out there. On the other hand, the Primer induces action, primes the pump, so to speak, serving as a resource for systemic action for the professional as well as a casual observer.

The Primer as a elementary primer is unique in that it is a collective effort of primarily ISSS members therby presenting a rather unique multi-perspectual viewpoint.

We are compiling information on three levels - a single sentence glossory definition; a single page explanation; and a multi-page overview. These then will be combined and hyper linked in various ways.

primer_birth.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/27 15:38 (external edit)