By Charles Francois
Who Knows What General Systems Theory Is? In my opinion General Systems Theory does not really exist as a unified theory. Claims to the contrary seem to harm our credibility.
“Systems Science(s)” is also a dubious trademark. Everyone understands it and defines it in her/his own way. Nobody seems to be able to offer a coherant and all embracing view of what it is (with the possible exception of Jean Louis Lemoigne in France, whose ideas would deserve to be considered in an international symposium)'
Curiously enough, this disarray somewhat reminds me of the famous Indian tale about the elephant and the five blind men…which ironically has precisely been proposed as a metaphor for the need of a systemic vision.
However, there is undoubtly a systemic-cybernetic vision (“Weltanschauung”) which includes:
-A conceptual frame: - A systemic ontology and epistemology; -General Semantics; -Constructivism; -The controllled uses of metaphors, analogies and isomorphies. - The general study and understanding of complexity -A general taxonomy of systems -An open set of transdiscliplinary concepts related to complexity; Aura,Autogenesis, Autonomy, Autopoiesis, Boundary, Chaos, Codification, Communication, Constraint, Control, \Dissipative structuration, Emergence, Environment, Explosive process, Hierarchy, Heterarchy, Homeostasis, Implosion Process, Information, Invironment, Metasystem, Morphogenesis, Morphostatis, Network, Neural organization, Organizational closure, Percolation, Regulation, Self-reference, Self-similarity, Simultaneity, Stress, Synergy, Uncompleteness, Variety, Whole… and surely some more.
A methdology of models derived from these concepts: - Controlllers, -Feedbacks, - Homeostat, - Hypercycle, - Learning matrixes, - Markovian Matrixes, -Metamodelling, - Neural networks, etc.
A number of more or less interconnected qualitative mathematical formalisms: -Analysis of reconstructibility (Klir), - Automate (Turing, von -Neuman, Conway), -Calculus of indications (Spencer Brown,), -Catastrophes (Thom, Zeeman). -Deterministic Chaos (Lorenz, Smale, et al.), - Fractals (Mandelbrot), - Fuzzy sets (Zadeh), -Games, Graphs, Groups, etc…
A number of specific applications: - Expert systems, -Servo-mechanisms, -Simulation techniques, -Systems dynamics, etc…
- …and, indirectly, a number of more specific disciplines: -Artificial intelligence, -Artificial Life, -Bionics, -Informatics, -Operational reserach, -Robotics, etc…
In short, an enormous trove, totally or partially unknown, even by the systemists themselves.
By Charles Francois Editor, International Encyclopedia of Systemics and Cybernetics
Take the tour…perspectives on general system theory