JUMP to What's New.
Opening Comments by Anna Lemkow adapted from "The Wholeness Principle"
...an inquiry into the dynamics of wholeness as an all-pervasive principle, by its nature... will demand obtaining as synoptic and inclusive a perspective as possible. one that comprehends to some measure the multi-formed and multi-dimensional nature of existence.
1996 ISSS Keynote Address by Willis Harman
The implications of research on consciousness ... suggest interconnection at a level that has yet to be fully recognized by Western science, and throw into doubt the pervasive conception of a world dominated by competition. The ontological stance of the universe as holarchy appears to have great promise as the basis for an extended science in which consciousness-related phenomena are no longer anomalies, but keys to a deeper understanding; a science that transcends and includes the science we have. .
EARTHDANCE; The Dance of Life by Elisabet Sahtouris
My holistic view is that we should teach and discuss everything within the overall framework of Living Systems: the economics of living systems, politics, arts, education etc. etc. etc. That would connect all our discussions meaningfully. We tend to understand these priniciples intuitively at the level of our bodies and of our families, but with bigger systems we forget them, primarily because we do not THINK of them as living systems. For example, in a family, parents don't starve three children to overfeed the forth. But we DO exactly that at a global economics level.
New Concepts of Matter, Life & Mind by Ervin Laszlo
Advances in the new sciences suggest a further modification of this assumption about the nature of reality. In light of what scientists are beginning to glimpse regarding the nature of the quantum vacuum, the energy sea that underlies all of spacetime, it is no longer warranted to view matter as primary and space as secondary. It is to space or rather, to the cosmically extended "Dirac-sea" of the vacuum that we should grant primary reality. The things we know as matter (and that scientists know as mass, with its associated properties of inertia and gravitation) appear as the consequence of interactions in the depth of this universal field. In the emerging concept there is no "absolute matter," only an absolute matter- generating energy field.
Holism and Evolution; Jan C. Smuts Excerpts
Holism (from the Greek Holos, whole) is the theory, which makes the existence of "wholes" a fundamental feature of the world. It regards natural objects, both animate and inanimate, as "wholes" and not merely as assemblages of elements or parts. It looks upon nature as consisting of discrete, concrete bodies and things, and not as a diffusive homogeneous continuum. And these bodies or things are not entirely resolvable into parts; in one degree or another they are wholes which are more than the sum of their parts, and the mechanical putting together of their parts will not produce them or account for their characters and behaviour. The so-called parts are in fact not real but largely abstract analytical distinctions, and do not properly or adequately express what has gone to the making of the thing as a whole.
Current Topic: by Heiner Benking
"-- is systems science re-inventing the wheel??? It is not clear to the author why the work of SMUTS was somehow neglected in the scientific community. It is obvious that the time - during and after the wars - was most difficult, and apparently biosystemic organic views were too much for conventional materialistic and reductionistic (only) approaches to swallow."
Longing for Unified Knowledge by Ivan Havel
Let us consider the question of whether we can engage in transdisciplinary research at all when it is so hard to overcome the fear of dilettantism. The call for improved communication among specialists would fail miserably if scholars were expected to learn first yet another specialized discipline.
I would like to suggest a small proposal. What about locking up a few top scholars from different disciplines (perhaps from the sciences as well as humanities) in an inaccessible tower for a certain period of time - certainly not a few days only, more preferably for a few months. Let them freely think and chat among themselves while protected from the distractions and demands of their peers. They will soon learn to understand each other's language. I bet that they would soon achieve a resonance of shared motives, themes, principles, concepts and ideas.
A Starting Place Submitted by by Gary Boyd
A top-down systemic strategy, this involves imagining the whole oceanic unity of the universe, as we all vaguely remember experiencing it in the womb, then making a division, say between self and other, then conversationally and experimentally exploring the connections across the boundary between self and other. Then successively by making other analagous distinctions, say between the self and the family and the other, or between the living and the non-living, we can explore the connections across those boundaries using guiding metaphors as heuristics and rigorous logic for detailed self-correcting theory and model building.
Stereo Icon A Test of Your Perception,
Sorry, may not be what you would predict........FOCUS. .............FOCUS
The effect you describe, however, is one Baars (1988) writes about as a defining characteristic of conscious perception: it strongly favors ONE perceptual gestalt. The examples he uses are ambiguous figures (the Necker cube or the famous Gestalt image of two faces/one goblet). The point is that we always perceive one or the other, not both simultaneously. What you describe fits that, although I would predict that you could also see the figure as all yellow at times, but as you note, not green.
Recently, I have listened to the discussion here about binocular rivalry, and find it interesting just how significant an actual experience is opposed to logical speculation about what that experience might actually be. Speculations are resolved by the experience, and moreover, entirely new observations can made. In this case, while the discussion argues about rivalry or not, the actual experiment suggests that what we have here is a background/foreground system. That conscousness has a foreground and a background component. And further, that the foreground consciousness is in fact limited to one at a time, but it is the background preconsciousness that is capable of both.
The Whorfian Hypothesis by Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Among recent developements in the anthropological sciences hardly any have found so much attention and led us to so much controversy as have the views advanced by the late Benjamin Whorf.
The hypothesis offered by Whorf is:
That the commonly held belief that the cognitive prosesses
of all human beings possess a common logical structure which operates
prior to and independently of comunication through language is
erroneous. It is Whorf's view that the linguistic patterns themselves
determine what the individual perceives in this world and how
he thinks about it., Since these patterns vary widely, the modes
of thinking and perceiving in groups utilizing different linguistic
systems will result in basically different world views (Fearing,
We are thus introduced to a new principle of relativity which holds that all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar...We cut up and organize the spread and flow of events as we do largely because, though our mother tongue, we are partes of an agreement to so so, not because nature itself is segmented in exactly that way for all to see. (Whorf, 1952, pg. 21)
No Boundary Excerptation of Ken WIlber
That all opposites - such as mass and energy, subject and object, life and death - are so much eachother that they are perfectly inseparable, still strikes most of us as hard to believe. But this is only because we accept as real the boundary line between the opposites. To put it plainly, to say that "ultimate reality is a unity of opposites" is actually to say that in ultimate reality there are no boundaries. Anywhere. For boundary lines, of any type, are never found in the real world itself, but only in the imagination of the mapmakers.
Is Virtual Reality Really Virtual? Excerpted from ISSS Procceedings: by Eric Schwarz
....We think that the universal wisdom and the spiritual tradition are full of resources to facilitate a conversion of our inducstrial society and logico-empirist paradigm to a more holistic approach. The reductionist and empirist discipline which emerged gradually since the Renaissance was probably useful to get rid of the aging, dogmatized, and perverted scholastic establishment, In the same way as the scolastic paradigm went through the steps of discovery and pertinence, maturity and decline, our rationalist paradigm generated a profitable stage in the history of mankind, teaching us to respect the indications of nature and to learn the power of logical coherence; it later allowed industrial society to take advantage of the controlling power nourished by the materialist sciences. It now seems that the unwanted by-products of technological advancement, like the ecological, social, economincal, political, financial chaotic movements point to a transformation not only of our model of natural processes but, more importantly, of the foundation of our knowledge and of our beliefs about reality.
How Big is our Umbrella? Adapted from Ken Wilber
In a series of books (including Sex, Ecology, Spirituality; A Brief History of Everything; and The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad), I have attempted to outline one version of an integral theory of consciousness that explicitly includes those twelve major approaches. In this short space I cannot even begin to give an adequate summary, and I don't think it would be appropriate to do so in an essay surveying consciousness studies as a whole. What is important is not, I think, my particular version of an integral view, but rather that we all begin to enter into this extraordinary dialogue about the possibility of an integral approach in general, an approach that-we can say this in several different ways-integrates the hard-headed with the soft-hearted, the natural sciences with the noetic sciences, objective realities with subjective realities, the empirical with the trancendental.
The Whole, The Parts, and the Holes by Andreas Goppold
Indo-European language structure has the word type noun for entities, and verb for processes, but relations are somewhat undefined either disguised as nouns (entities) or as adjectives (or mostly spatial and temporal flavor). Consequently, Indo- European common-sense ontology is mostly object/entity driven. The duality of Object and Process is well known and is best exemplified in the Zeno paradoxes where it was argued that motion was impossible. In modern Physics, there is a shift from the entity view to the process view going on which has been discussed in the contributions. But we are seriously hindered by our language to think of Relation as ontological principle, and not just an attribute of entities. If we promote Relation to its own ontological place, we can understand why the Whole is more than the sum of its parts, and we can then construct a true ontological heterarchy which would fill the holes in our Whole. For it is the Relations which create the entities in the first place.
Wholeness and Enlightenment Submitted by Terry Murphy
This is so obvious, every animal knows it, every child. People are way too smart for their own good. Let me state it as an imperative, quoting Spike Lee: "Do the right thing." The 'right thing' is only: the best we can do at the moment, given all the circumstances of our life. We have limited knowledge, limited understanding; we can't even conceive of what the 'right thing' is: all we can do is the best we can. It doesn't matter if it makes us happy, it doesn't matter if it was 'right' in retrospect, by hindsight; all that matters is that we do our best, because we can't do any better than that. At some point decisions have to be made, and no amount of worry and effort can improve on our best judgment, so just do it, and accept the consequences as the current given reality, not as 'consequences.'
Translation and Transformation by Ken Wilber
Transformative spirituality does not seek to bolster or legitimate any present worldview at all, but rather to provide true authenticity by shattering what the world takes as legitimate. Legitimate consciousness is sanctioned by the consensus, adopted by the herd mentality, embraced by the culture and the counter-culture both, promoted by the separate self as the way to make sense of this world. But authentic consciousness quickly shakes all of that off of its back, and settles instead into a glance that sees only a radiant infinity in the heart of all souls, and breathes into its lungs only the atmosphere of an eternity too simple to believe. Transformative spirituality, authentic spirituality, is therefore revolutionary. It does not legitimate the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.
Systemic Principles of Education Compiled by Tom Mandel
There is an inmost centre in us all,
where truth abides in fulness,
and, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in.
And to know rather consists in opening out a way
whence the imprisoned splendor may escape
than in affecting entry for a light supposed to be without. E.B.Browning
The Seventh Letter by Plato
Anyone who has followed this discourse and digression will know well that, if Dionysios or anyone else, great or small, has written a treatise on the highest matters and the first principles of things, he has, so I say, neither heard nor learnt any sound teaching about the subject of his treatise; otherwise, he would have had the same reverence for it, which I have, and would have shrunk from putting it forth into a world of discord and uncomeliness. For he wrote it, not as an aid to memory-since there is no risk of forgetting it, if a man's soul has once laid hold of it; for it is expressed in the shortest of statements-but if he wrote it at all, it was from a mean craving for honour, either putting it forth as his own invention, or to figure as a man possessed of culture, of which he was not worthy, if his heart was set on the credit of possessing it. If then Dionysios gained this culture from the one lesson which he had from me, we may perhaps grant him the possession of it, though how he acquired it-God wot, as the Theban says; for I gave him the teaching, which I have described, on that one occasion and never again.
The General System by Tom Mandel
We in the systems sciences should be greatly concerned that we may be in a micro-Dark Age brought on by a faulty ontological assumption. True systems thinking, if it is to include natural systems, is a radical departure from the old atomistic thinking that has brought science this far. Systemics, insofar as it would be a mirror of reality, is not just about simply organizing separate entities into something we call a whole (as if it were merely a theory of organizations.) Indeed, the most significant difference between the old and the new is that the "old" fundamental concept of separateness i.e., "things," is not a part of systemic ontology (basis of existence). The ontological basis of being, the object, is not the basis of being in systemics. Look at the black and white of this page, then look at what they are doing, that is how different the new system's thinking is from the old. A door not in use is functionally a wall.
General Systematics by John Bennett
The impulse to understand, and not merely to know and to act, is an impulse characteristic of man and apparently not shared by other animals. I am not concerned here with the origin and nature of this impulse, but with its implications that there is something to be understood and that understanding is not reducible to knowledge and action. We know facts by way of perception and conception. We act from instinct and desire directed by knowledge. But it also seems that knowledge and action would be mere automatism - indistinguishable from animal behavior or even the work of a machine - if not informed by some kind of understanding.
The assumption that there is something to be understood beyond fact and feeling, means that we suppose that there is some universal order or principles by which both we and our world are regulated. If there were no such order or principles caprice would reign.
Emergence From Chaos by Richard Knowles
As people with courage, caring, concern and commitment come together with integrity around the work of bringing forth the ideas and patterns of the organization, emergent and fluid design structures come into being. The emergent structures will continue to evolve spontaneously. The design criteria are specified in and the resulting fluid design structures will evolve to respond to the changing environment in appropriate ways. In working in these areas of chaos, complexity and living systems, I've found that a very useful way to think about things is to use systematics. Tony Blake, a student of John Bennett who developed this subject, points out that systematics is the study of organized complexity. This is a method of understanding which is based on Number. The elements of a system represent the various degrees of wholeness. In looking at systems in this way, we can find focus and clarity in what we're trying to talk about. Systematics begins with the monad ( a one element system) which looks at wholeness. It moves into the dyad that looks at polarity and difference. Next is the triad that brings a third element in to help resolve the dyad. Each time an element is added the picture becomes more concrete. The emphasis is on the connectedness and relationship of all the various elements. The networks of relationships are extremely important.
Bridge From the Intellectual to the Experiential by Tony Judge
In contrast with western uses of the dialectic method, the tetra-lemmic approach provides a bridge from the intellectual operation of the dialectic to the experiential. It provides a way of questioning any view, including the approach itself. It distinguishes between the questionability of all views as products of involvement in a complex environment and levels of experience unmediated by such products. "Phenomenologically, one's world expands, not only incorporating the discursive as part and parcel of man's existence, but also including the nondiscursive vastness to which our categories do not and cannot come close to touching. The categories do not approximate reality, not because they are too simple, but because they are the products of particular perceptual-conceptual conditions." (MacDowell, p 9). From such a perspective it is valuable: to take account of all views; to consider all as inadequate; to accept both these positions together; and to consider that neither of these positions is adequate.
A Taste of Systemicsby Bela Banathy
The systems view is a world-view that is based on the discipline of SYSTEM INQUIRY, Central to systems inquiry is the concept of SYSTEM. In the most general sense, system means a configuration of parts connected and joined together by a web of relationships. The Primer group defines system as a family of relationships among the members acting as a whole. Bertalanffy defined system as "elements in standing relationship."
The joining and integrating of the web of relationships creates EMERGENT PROPERTIES of the whole. These properties of the whole may not be found in any analysis the parts. This is the VALUE of systems theory. the WHOLENESS that can't be seen in the parts.
SYSTEMS INQUIRY is a system itself. As a conceptual system, it has four interrelated and internally consistent aspects acting as a whole: systems PHILOSOPHY, systems THEORY, systems METHODOLOGY and systems APPLICATION. Furthermore, systems inquiry embraces two kinds of disciplined inquiry; it's conclusion-orientated inquiry mode PRODUCES systems knowledge, its decision orientated inquiry mode APPLIES systems knowledge to the formulation and selection of systems methods that address real-world situations. "As a conceptual system, it has four interrelated and internally consistent aspects."
A Skeleton from the Closet by Bela Banathy
It is the main objective of GST says Boulding, to develop "generalized ears" that overcome the "specializcd deafness" of the specific disciplines. meaning that someone who ought to know something that someone else knows isn't able to f ind it out for lack of generalized ears. Developing a framework of a general theory will enable the specialist to catch relevant coumniunication from others. In (the closing section of this paper, Boulding referred to the subtitle of his paper. GST as "the skeleton of science"
It is a skeleton in the sense- he says, that "It aims to provide a framework or structure of systems on which to hang the flesh and blood of particular disciplines and particular subject matters in an orderly and coherant corpus of knowledge. It is, also. however, something of a "skeleton in a cupboard" The cupboard in this case being the unwillingness of science to admit the tendency to shut the door on problems and subject matters which do not fit easily into simple mechanical schemes.
Science, for all its success still has a very long way to So. GST may at times be an embarrassement in pointing out how very far we still have to go, and in deflating excessive philosophical claim for overly simple systems. It also may be helpful, however, in pointing out to some extent where we have to go. The skeleton must come out of the cupboard before its dry bones can live.
An Evolution of Systems Inquiry Submitted by Bela Banathy
Bertalanffy suggested first that modern science is characterized by its ever increasing specialization, necessitated by the enormous amount of data and the complexity of techniques and structures within every field. This led to a breakdown of science as an integrated realm. Scientists, operating in the various disciplines are encapsulated in their private universe. Against this background, there exists models, principles, and laws that can be generalized across various systems. Thus, it seems legitimate to ask for a theory of universal principles applying to systems in general. This theory would recognize the existence of (a) systems properties that are general and (b) structural similarities or isomorphies in different fields. Such a theory would be a useful tool providing models that can be used in, and transferred to, different fields.
Organized Developments of Systems InquirySubmitted by Bela Banathy
We can account for several major developments that reflect the evolution of the systems movement. The main-stream of the movement was developed around the ideas presented in the text above. Parallel with the mainstream, we can account for other strands that include operations research, systems engineering, and cybernetics. Others emerged as branches of the main-stream; such as living systems theory, soft-systems and human systems theory, systems design, and critical systems theory.
Systems and Cybernetics, definition of systems, Cambridge University Press,
What is Systems Theory?
Systems Theory: the transdisciplinary study of the abstract ORGANIZATION of phenomena, independent of their substance, type, or spatial or temporal scale of existence.
It investigates both the principles common to all complex entities, and the (usually mathematical) MODELS which can be used to describe them.
Systems theory was proposed in the 1940's by the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy (anthology: General Systems Theory, 1968), and furthered by Ross Ashby (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956).
von Bertalanffy was both reacting against REDUCTIONISM and attempting to revive the UNITY OF SCIENCE. He emphasized that real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through EMERGENCE, resulting in continual EVOLUTION. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrange ment of and RELATIONS between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. HOLISM). This particular ORGANIZATION determines a SYSTEM, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc). Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines (physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification..
Cybernetics and Wholeness Submitted by Gary Boyd
At a more sustenantially basic level Lovelock with his "Gaia hypothesis" has modelled the living mantle of the world as a multi-loop cybernetic control system which maintains ocean salinity and atmospheric oxygen percentage pretty nearly constant over hundreds of thousands of years. These two Cybernetic systems :Gaia and the Cyborg composed of humanimals and their machines "Humanlife" have to live together IF AT ALL. SO now new cybernetic arrangements must be instituted to ensure that we don't kill Gaia (i.e. commit VIVICIDE -the suicide of all Life on Earth). If we manage to change our cultures so they conserve each other's variety and that of Gaia why then we will have a kind of "Wholeness" worth bragging about!
The Living Systems Theory of Jame Grier Miller by Elaine Parent
Living Systems Theory is a general theory about how all living systems "work," about how they maintain themselves and how they develop and change.
By definition, living systems are open, self-organizing systems that have the special characteristics of life and interact with their environment. This takes place by means of information and material-energy exchanges.
Living systems can be as simple as a single cell or as complex as a supranational organization (sueh as the European Economic Community). Regardless of their complexity, they each depend upon the same essential twenty subsystems (or processes) in order to survive and to continue the propogation of their species or types beyond a single generation.
Earth as a System by James Miller and Jessie Miller
THE PLANET EARTH, from its center to the outer limits of its atmosphere, including everything in and on it, is a mixed living and nonliving system within the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and, ultimately, the universe. -
When we say that something is a system, we are saying that it has a set of characteristics that are common to all systems and lacking in things that are not systems. A system necessarily has parts (or units, or components); these parts have some common properties, are interdependent, and interact within the system.
The parts of this system are aggregations of matter and energy that differ greatly in size, in other aspects of physical structure, in behavior, and in duration of existence. These parts are observed to interact in exceedingly complex ways. The pervasiveness of the interdependence among all parts of the Earth system is becoming increasingly apparent as the widespread effects of changes in variables are traced.
Living Systems Theory Applications by James Miller
Any scientific theory derives its credibility and eventual validation from its correspondence to the real phenomena to which it is applied, its usefulness in solving problems and answering questions, and the degree to which it contributes to science in general. It is, therefore, critical that research be undertaken on testable hypotheses derived from it.
Basic living systems research is concerned with intersystem generalization, the search for common aspects of structures or processes among living systems of different kinds. Generalization may be among individuals of the same species or type, among systems of different species or types at the same level, or among systems at different levels.
Cross-level research is the most powerful of these approaches, although all have their place in the study of living systems. It seeks to discover isomorphisms among systems at two or more levels and to apply models based upon them to a variety of systems. This is a useful approach because it can illuminate previously undetected regularities in nature and can result in deeper understanding of basic characteristics of living systems at two or more levels. Scientists must always be alert to the fact that greater generality is a major goal of science.
Who Knows What a General Systems Theory is? by Charles Francois
Everyone knows what the General System Principle is...
Management and the Systems Approach Submitted by Markus Schwaninger
As this seminar emphasizes, the systems approach strives
for wholeness. What has this to do with management? Is not management
a job of manipulating others to get ones own - often short term
- interests accomplished? Even though this may often be observed
practice, a systemic stance suggests a different view and concept
of management: Management, from a systemic point of view, is about
actors (e.g. individuals, groups, or organizations), to
cope with complexity
attain viability and development
co-evolve with the milieu or environment in which they are embedded
Complexity, as understood here, is dynamic, not static. The quest for viability is not about mere survival. On one hand, it is about a system maintaining its identity, but on the other it can also imply a substantial change or evolution of identity.
History and Systems:, Ancient Systems Theory by Tom Mandel
But what if water was merely an example of Thales Stuff? And what if air also was an example of the Boundless? And what if fire was an example of Change rather than the accepted version that everything was fire? And what if earth was an example of what happens when you put all these Together? We would have a Greek General Systems Theory that would rival any we have today, at least of the general sort.
Indeed, if we interpret these elements in this relational manner, we find that we have two primary elements, water and air, which is combined like fire combines, the whole of which is one, like the earth. Certainly this idea is not different from our own general system principles -- "standing elements in relationship." Could they have gotten it right to begin with? There is evidence that such a scenario could have existed.
Liaisons et Systemes by Henry Cohen
Relationships in and between systems.
1996 ISSS Presidential Address Ervin Laszlo
We have arrived at a watershed in the history of humanity. Given current trends in demography, resource consumption, militarization, lifestyle and wealth-disparities, and the degeneration of the environment, our future on this planet is no longer assured. While on the one hand we could pave the way toward a system of social, economic, and political organization that is peaceful and capable of ensuring an adequate level of sustainability of the human Iife-supporting environment, on the other we could find ourselves on a descending path toward growing social, political and environmental crises and possibly catastrophes. The choice at this point of bifurcation is still open. It merits further reflection.
Opting toward a positive scenario calls for an improved set of behaviors. This in turn requires a set of moral codes accepted by people and assimilated in their everyday life. Moral codes themselves repose on a foundation of ethics, whether consciously formulated or not. Since the time is short and the choice pressing, a conscious formulation of an adequate ethics is a high priority: it could accelerate the discussion, and eventually the acceptance, of a suitable set of moral codes for responsibly guiding human behavior.
What kind of ethics do we require? It needs to be one that can provide general guidelines for the interaction of people with people, and people with nature. As such, it needs to have a view of the whole system in which humans live their lives and pursue their activities. This means an ethics of the whole-system of planetary existence: a biospheric systems ethics
The Tao of Systems by Yi Lin
The Tao begot Unity, Unity begot duality, duality begot Trinity; Trinity begot the myriad things.... The Tao Te Ching portrays the absorption of the separate soal into the cosmic unity, it describes the assimilation of the individual personality (te) into the eternal Way (Tao). In simplest terms, te means no more than the wholeness or completeness of a given entity. It represents the selfhood of every being in the universe. It also has a moral dimension in the sense of adherence to a set of values. From Tao, the vast variety of creatures and things in the world spring. Contrary to the existence or being of all the things or beings in the world, the Tao, their origin, is without existence. In terms of general systems, Tao represents the system, while Te stands for the attributes of each member of the whole; and the theory of the system Tao-Te depicts how the members and the whole are connected in such a way that the whole system could be in a chaos or in harmony.
A Whole Systems Approach: Submitted by Zhichang Zhu
From the Perspectives of the Wuli of matter, the Shili of relations and the Renli of involvementThe systems approaches studied are the Multiple Perspective Concept (TOP) formulated by Linstone, the Multi-modal Systems Design (MMD) by de Raadt, and the Wuli-Shili-Renli Approach (WSR) by Gu and Zhu.
TOP is a two-decade old multiple perspective concept advanced to help the systems practitioner bridge the gap between analysis and action, between model and the real world. Criticising the prevailing systems approaches which are one-sidedly characterised by the traditional perspective of the engineer and scientist, TOP provides a three-dimensional view to address real-world systems which are complex. The three perspectives it suggests are: T - the technical perspective; O - the organisational or societal perspective; and P - the personal or individual perspective. It is asserted that the different perspectives force us to distinguish how we are looking form what we are looking at: we see the system through different filters. It is asserted that the three types of perspectives have inherently different characteristics and properties, each of which yields insights on a system that are not attainable with the others.
While emphasising that the O and P perspectives are not to replace the T perspective, TOP claims that the perspectives do not represent different mathematical models but very different sets of underlying assumptions, axioms, or paradigms. Documentation of TOP can be found in Linstone (1984, 1985, 1989), Linstone et al. (1981, 1987).
MMD is presented as an alternative approach to social systems design which is said to have taken advantage of the idea of 'multi-modal cultural ecology' in reality, in human life, and in knowledge. Criticising the reductionist tendency of guiding the affairs of humanity by a mechanical and utilitarian world view that considers humanity as a mean of production and subject to industrial goals, multi-modal thinking is reported to provide a theoretical framework that brings technology and humanity together. It is argued that each modal level, or 'law sphere', in modal ecology is governed by its own order or set of laws, which is unique and irreducible; that is, one cannot totally understand one modal order in terms of another, and therefore it requires a distinct intellectual discipline to study each modal order.
Drawing upon the ideas of homonorphism, expansion, and transduction among modal levels, MMD is formulated as a methodology which aims at ensuring that all modalities of human life, from the most 'hard' modalities to the most 'soft' ones, be presented and integrated in social systems design. MMD is documented mainly in de Raadt (1989, 1995).
WSR is said to be a systems approach which developed from a distinct tradition: the ancient Chinese philosophy and the systems practice in China since the 1950s'. More precisely speaking, WSR tries to combine insights from the Neo-Confucianist concept of Li (essence, patterns, principles, reasoning) and the teaching of Ge Wu Qiong Li (Investigating things for their utmost lis), and achievements of contemporary systems science, so to provide practitioners with operational systems guidelines in the hope of improving systems research and practice in the Eastern context.
Synergy: an Introduction: by Eric Sommer
By a `synergy', I mean a system of interactions between two or more actors or centers of action. The word `synergy' comes from a Greek work meaning `working together'. Any set of two or more interacting beings may be regarded as a synergy. Two people in a conversation, two people bumping into each other on the street, a bee visiting flowers and polinating them, or two armies at war may all be regarded as synergies. All of them involve interactons or systems of interaction between two or more beings or centers of action.
Synergy and the Systems Sciences: by Peter Corning.
Synergy -- the combined effects produced by two (or more ) parts, elements or individuals -- is a unbiquitous phemomenon in nature and human societies alike.
Although it plays a significant role in most, if not all, of the scienctific disciplnes its importance is not widely appreciated because it travels under many different aliases, including emergence, cooperativity, symbiosis, coevolution, symmetry, order, interactions, interdependencies, systemic effects, even complexity and dynamical attractors. In this paper it is proposed that the term "synergy" be utilized as a pan-disciplinary lingua franca for co-operative effects of various kinds.
Although its role is often unappreciated, synergy can also be considered one of the core concepts of the systems sciences.
The Synergy Principle: by Yongming Tang
the universe evolves with synergy, advancing itself with novelty. Synergy refers to the new and novel whole that is brought forth out of the processes of differentiation and integration. It is the whole which is bigger than the sum of its parts. It is with the new and novel development, the universe evolves. In Da Chuang, "life-producing is the process of Tao." That is why we call the life-producing pattern the synergy principle.
Pathology occurs, when the synergic principle of the universe is obstructed. Pathology results from either (1) differentiation without integration, or (2) integration without differentiation. Differentiation without integration is a separation fallacy; and integration without differentiation is a unity fallacy (Johnston, 1991). In addition, pathology manifests itself in terms of problems or crises.
When pathology exists, corrective action is needed to eliminate those problems and crises. Corrective action here refers to the kind of action that will rectify the processes of differentiation and integration, producing synergy. In other words, corrective action work with underlying causes -- the interrupted synergic process of the universe -- rather than symptoms (i.e., problems and crises). Further, through corrective action, humans take on a journey of discovery or/and rediscovery which accelerates the evolution of our consciousness. When the synergic process is retained, consciousness will continue the journey of evolution, and our problems and crises will disappear.
Theories of Everything: Excerpts of J.D. Barrow
We have seen that a naive reductionism that would seek to reduce everything to its smallest constituents pieces is misplaced. If we are to arrive at a full understanding of complex systems especially those that result from the haphazard workings of natural selections, then we shall need more than current candidates for the title "Theory of Everything" have to offer. We need to discover if there are general principles that govern the development of complexity in general which can be applied to a variety of different situations without becoming embroiled in their peculiarities,
Perhaps there exist a whole set of basic rules about the development of complexity which reduce to some of our simpler laws of nature is situations where the level of complexity is essentially nil .. If such rules do exist, then they are not like the laws which the particle physicists seek. But is there any evidence that such principles exist?
A collection of 1027 protons, neutrons, and electrons may be all that a desk-top computer is at some level, but clearly the way in which those sub-atomic particle are put together, the way in which they are organized, is what distinguishes the computer from a crowd of 1027 separate sub-atomic particles.
Perspectives on The General System: Part Two by Tom Mandel
Complexity, as a fact of life, cannot be disputed. It should not be taken to mean, however, that simplicity is therefore trivial. Consider this situation: the human brain consisting of billions of neurons, each with thousands of connections talking to each other trillions of times each second, constantly learning by producing new connections and leaving others to die off, all of which are mediated by at least fifty different kinds of neurotransmitters, which, in turn, may be attenuated or enhanced, the whole of which is constantly modulated by the six senses--is indeed a complex system. Yet, to do their work, the individual neurons themselves do no more than simply reverse an internal electrical charge. They simply turn on and off. We now know that the key lies in their relationships, the pattern of ON's and OFF'S. This and That in a Loving Relationship is Something Else
A Panorama of Understanding: Part 1 Submitted by Heiner Benking
What we are talking her about is a paradigm shift integrating the reductionistic and the synoptic -- the one and the multi-dimensional holarchy -- enabling adopting a view of Life which allows to us feel concerned not only as an individual only, but as a whole. The panorama approach allows us able to discuss and point out issues before not visible or considered tangible.
This article is an synopsis of seven years of thinking of an foreigner, almost like a alien, not only having problems with foreign languages, but living voluntarily in parallel worlds or connected cognitive spaces, checking the feasibility through all domains and its relevance and acceptability in different schools of thought and fields. As requirements differ and technologically we see mayor shifts in the field of human interface design and cognitive spaces, I will only summarize that times change fast and the reception is far better by children than by serious scientists and philosophers.
The model presented here is only one, best used for finding an overview and seeing the coherence and connectedness from a birds eye perspective without all possible local processes and interactions blinding us to the forest. There is a great need for a whole orchestra of views and models, a symphony, but, at the same time, which can talk to each other and play one theme at a time!
A Panorama of Understanding: Part 2 Submitted by Heiner Benking
The Panorama design uses three reference frames, related to SUBJECT, OBJECT and their relationship or CONTEXT. What is also important, however, is that SPACES left between them. In fact, what we do NOT know or understand may be far more important than what we DO know and understand. The spaces represent the questions for addressing the challenge of how to know, connect, and transcend.
The scaffolding or framework provides a top-down perspective. There seems to be agreement that no single model can suffice to organise all our knowledge. However, the Panorama three-fold design (3xspace/time) matches many other perspectives and can be recast in their terms, so that we can translate fairly easily from one micro-paradigm to the other.
The TAO of Science, A Commentary on Ralph Siu by Heiner Benking
Thinkers may be divided into two classes: the lumpers and the splitters. The former emphasize unity and harmony in the universe. They perceive the interconnecting strands and permeating diffusions. So they tend to lump concepts together with adaptive compatibilities and people with magnanimous accommodations.
In contrast, the splitters focus on distinctions and cleavages. They search for the special features that separate one from another. So they tend to split concepts apart into this and that school and people into this and that camp.
In following the inclinations of the lumpers, I sense an underlying congruence between the scientific approach to enlightenment and the religious, between the rationale of academicians in the humanities and that of executives in the marketplace, and between the heritage of the East and the West. All human should be cross-relatable, so I have come to believe, if for no other reason than that it originates within the same human mind. It should not be too difficult to develop a common language on human behavior beneath the specialized differentiations of the splitters.
We might even venture the opinion that an explanation is
primarily an expression of how the mind functions within the cultural
setting of the moment and only coincidentally is it a description
of how the phenomenon under scrutiny actually takes place. The
same trackings of the human mind
can be seen through whatever subject matter it happens to be examining.
The quark-antiquark of the American physicist of the twentieth
century AD repeats the yang-yin of the Chinese peasant of the
twentieth century BC. The thermodynamic principle of the nineteenth
century that "heat cannot flow from a colder body to a warmer
body" recalls the theological dictum of Thomas Aquinas of
the thirteenth century that "an inferior angel cannot
advise a superior angle". The holographic process of regenerating the complete encoded message from any part, however small, of the hologram reflects Aristotle's assertion of the fourth century BC that the soul is present in it's entirety in every part of the body and William Blake's
poetic vision of the eighteenth century as he wrote:
To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower.....
Unifying Theory of the Organism and Behavoir: Chapter 3 by Ralph Siu
The uniqueness of human behaviour as the involvement of virtual presences has been described in the preceding chapter. However, uniqueness does not mean completeness. There are many other aspects of human behaviour that are not unique to the species but are shared with other beings as kindred in the Tao. We shall now proceed with our conceptualization of the human being in one`s wholeness.
Our approach echoes the underlying theme of continuous change in the oldest existing book of Chinese antiquity, the I Ching or Book of Changes372. All behaviour, be it inanimate, plant, animal, or human, is a manifestation of changes in state. To understand behaviour is to grasp the nature of the stuffs undergoing change and the associated process. This chapter is devoted to a discussion of these stuffs, followed by an elaboration of the process of assimilation in Chapters 4 through 9 and three case illustrations of the application of the theory and vocabulary in Chapter 10.
As far as the ingredients of change are concerned, mass-energy is now universally accepted as essential. Most natural scientists would go even further. They would explain all changes as transformations of mass-energy alone --be they animate or inanimate, human or plant, mental or physical.
These assertions, however, appear to be largely based on circular reasoning. Mass-energy has been defined solely by techniques devised for the measurement of changes in inanimate systems. Having achieved often terrifying success in the manipulation of inanimate systems, using theories invoking only mass-energy as the stuff of change, the scientific enthusiasts have been trying to impose the same exclusive framework upon the living, behaving, and thinking organisms.
Intellectually dominant elites throughout the ages have always been similarly tempted. Everything is to be explained their way and theirs alone. Every secret is to be opened by their bag of tricks and theirs alone. So it was that the medieval scholars of Christianity insisted that the rotation of the planets and all other physical phenomena must conform to their own biblical interpretations. And so it is today that the twentieth century scholars of the natural sciences insist that the behaviour of human beings and all other living phenomena must conform to their own mass-energy model. Just as the medieval scholastics had proclaimed that their biblical account of the universe was complete, the scientific counterparts of today are proclaiming that their physicalistic account is complete.
The philosopher Feigl 244 dissected the tautological claim of the radical physicalists. It "amounts to a truism....that there can be nothing within the intersubjective-physicalistic account of the world that is not intersubjective-physicalistic." We would be less confused if we recognize the game being played. "These admittedly keen and clear-headed philosophers (and alas, often unwittingly) apply the `Hylas Touch`! No wonder then that whatever they deal with turns out to be physical !"
Complementarity by John Hitchcock
Thus we have two experiments, both of which, after sixty years of refinement and discussion, are considered correct and factual. Each absolutely excludes the theory which is the necessary basis for the explanation of the other- necessary, that is, if we must think in such terms as waves and particles. On this point, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman emphasizes, "All our experience is with waves and particles." The wave and the particle natures are two sides of one thing whose nature cannot be rationally expressed. This one thing is light, which seems both continuous and discontinuous, and which the experiments show is neither continuous nor discontinuous, but which we know at a level beyond rational knowledge is a unity....Our knowledge that it is light, a unity, or electron, another unity, to which the opposites apply, emphasize a "both/ and" which links the two and highlights their contradictory character.
Synchronicity, an Excerptation of: by F David Peat
Each of us is faced with a mystery. We are born into this universe, we grow up, work, play, fall in love, and at the ends of our lives, face death. Yet in the midst of all this activity we are constantly confronted by a series of overwhelming questions: What is the nature of the universe and what is our position in it? What does the universe mean? What is its purpose? Who are we and what is the meaning of our lives?
Science attempts to offer answers to these questions, for it always has been the province of the scientist to discover how the universe is constituted, how matter was first created, and how life began.
There appears, therefore, to be an unbridgeable gap between the objective and the subjective approaches to the question of the universe and our role within it.
It is, however, the argument of this book that a bridge can indeed be built between interior and exterior worlds and that synchronicity provides us with a starting point, for it represents a tiny flaw in the fabric of all that we have hitherto taken for reality.
Carl Jung defined synchronicity as "The coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same meaning." His implication is clear--certain events in the universe cluster together into meaningful patterns without recourse to the normal pushes and pulls of causality. These synchronicities therefore must transcend the normal laws of science, for they are the expressions of much deeper movements that originate in the ground of the universe and involve, in an inseparable way, both matter and meaning.
Arnold Mindel gives the example of a psychotic patient who declared that he was Jesus, the creator and destroyer of light. At that very moment the lighting fixture dropped from the ceiling, knocking the man out
The true story of synchronicity begins with the collaboration of two remarkable thinkers, the psychologist Carl Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Their concept of synchronicity originated in a marriage between the approaches of physics and psychology.
Jung writes, "In writing this paper I have, so to speak, made good a promise which for many years I lacked the courage to fulfill. The difficulties of the problem and its representation seemed to me too great...If I have now conquered my hesitation and at last come to grips with the theme it is chiefly because my experiences of the phenomenon of synchronicity have multiplied themselves over the decades".
J.B.Rhine Lecture QVI as a basis for non-local experience: by Ervin Laszlo
Inasmuch as the quantum vacuum interconnects the motion of the events that occur in space and time, it functions as a holographic field that encodes the particulars of their motion and transmits them to `in-form' the motion of other events. There is no immediate indication, however, that this interconnection would be of the anomalous variety that is characteristic of psi. (Psi, as researchers well know, implies signals that are space- and time-transcending, that is, instantaneous for spatially distant objects and indifferent as to the time when the signalled events took place.) Yet a deeper analysis shows that the signals transmitted through the vacuum field are precisely of the psi variety. The reasons for this are first, because information in that field is holographic (that is, distributed and thus simultaneously available at distinct locations), and second, because the propagation of the holographic interference patterns is quasi-instantaneous.
Toward a General Theory of Consciousness: Submitted by James Newman
Looking for a core dynamic rather than a linear causeConclusion.These accumulated findings, and the models they have engendered, constitute an impressive framework for constructing a general theory of consciousness (An extended argument for this is made in Newman (in prep.), which was recently submitted to PSYCHE.)
A Place for Consciousness by Gregg Rosenberg
Probing the deep structure of the natural world. Can consciousness
be reductively explained? Anti&SHY;physicalist arguments claim
to show that it cannot be. Physicalists often respond to these
arguments by asserting that physicalism must be true if we are
to avoid absurdity. If it is false, they claim, then consciousness
either interacts in a bizarre way with the physical, or it is
completely irrelevant to behavior. Since neither option is palatable,
physicalists conclude that there must be something wrong with
the anti&SHY;physicalist arguments. In this dissertation, I explore
the common objections to the
logic of the anti&SHY;physicalist arguments, and I conclude that these objections seem to fail. The anti&SHY;physicalist arguments look to be sound after all. Given that physicalism is false, the dilemma anti&SHY;physicalism seems faced with concerning the causal role of consciousness in the world needs to be addressed.
General Semantics: Submitted by Milton Dawes.
Without an awareness of what we are doing, and how we are doing what we do, we stand little chance of improvement. General-semantics 'invites' us ( among other things) to become more conscious of the ways we use language and the ways language uses us. It 'invites' us to become more conscious of ourselves as evaluators, map-makers, story tellers, individual and unique expressions of human consciousness, if we hope to improve our behavior to ourselves and others.
A criticism unavoidably involves comparisons: comparisons based on explicitly stated, or unstated goals, ideals, norms, standards, criteria, premises, frame of reference, expectations, traditions, etc., against which some person, behavior, situation, thing, statement, and so on, is measured. Unfortunately, very rarely does one come across a criticizer, critic, or school of critical thinking that emphasizes the importance of being explicit in stating, or that takes the time to mention the particular criteria, ideals, standards, etc., that ground a criticism; or that supports prescriptions and directions for developing skills in what is called critical thinking. I propose that addressing this neglect is especially urgent for advocates of critical thinking.
Down To Earth Epistemology: Submitted by Milton Dawes
If our aim is towards, increase knowledge and understanding of ourselves in universe; continuing self-developing; maintaining satisfying relationships; acting more appropriately in our different environments; if our aim is towards increasing our critical evaluating skills; becoming more imaginative and creative; becoming better interpreters of what we hear, read, see, etc, if our aim is towards reducing stress in our lives, better management of our lives; and so on - I cannot think of a simpler or more practical epistemological system than Korzybski's general-semantics, as a set of directives to guide us towards those results.
General-semantics has been described by some as "Up to date epistemology". To that I would also add : "relatively simple ( not necessarily easy) down to earth, personal, and practical epistemology". What could be simpler than the following directives?
Whatever we ( as individuals) hear, see, touch , smell, etc., is not all that could be heard, seen, etc. not the only way to listen, look etc. Whatever we say, think, imagine, believe, understand, etc., is not all that could be said, imagined, understood etc. There are other things that could be said: other ways to say what we said, and so on..
A State of the Word Message: Submitted by John McConnell
The basic problem on our planet is the failure of people to look beyond the problem, see the solutions and act on them. An ancient saying tells us, "Where there is no vision the people perish." The Earth Trustee vision, policies and agenda can appeal to the most people and do the most good for people and planet. It can appeal to the logic and strength that belongs to "simple and clear souls."
Thinking The World Back Together Again by Noel Fredericks McKinnis
Today most ears are still unable to hear that our planet is beyond restoration to its prior state. Earth can be restored only to a new state of realized wholeness, not to an old one. Accordingly, we are to "think the world together" as we would sing a song in unison: mutually complying with the song's integrity by respecting its particular togetherness. Thinking the world together--mutually complying with the planet's integrity--honors the truth in Ernest Holmes' declaration that we may have earthly dominion only to the extent that we are in harmony with the principles that govern Earth's being. "To command nature, we must first obey it," Holmes insisted, meaning that the ways of our being must be in compliance with the essence of whatever we would master.
The Language of Integration: Submitted by Joe Engleberg
Who are the myriad generalists/integrators
who hold the world together?
They are homemakers male or female,
some MD's, politicians, statesmen, entrepreneurs,
administrators, religionists, etc.
Michelle's First Day at School: Submtted by Tom Mandel
Time - the future
Place - a school playroom
City - somewhere,
Length of course - about ten minutes
"Good Morning Class!"
"Good Morning Teacher"
"Welcome to your first day of school"
"Thank You teacher"
"Today we are going to start with Systemics, then we'll spend the rest of the day in play. Does anyone know what a system is?" The class doesn't respond as the level of whispering drops to a hush.
"Well, we'll start with a system. Everyone hold up your right hand, yes, that's right". All the six year olds hold up their hand. "Now hold up your other hand." All of them are holding up two hands." The level of excitement and suspense starts to rise as the childrens start to wave their hands in different ways.
"Ok, now move them slowly together." The class puts their hands together, the level of excitement rises even further.
"That's not a system!" The teacher shouts over the din. "Awwwww" some of the kids moan.
Stephanie's Second Day at School by Matthew Shapiro
"Now, remember what we did in class yesterday? With the hand-clapping? What was 'organization'?"
"When the hands were clapping together.'
"Right! It's the same thing with the orchestra. They are organized. And when they are organized, they are..."
"Simple!", a few kids shout.
The Way Geese Fly: by Tony Rizzo
During our excursion into the realm of constraints and clear thinking, many of us might have drawn the conclusion that local optimization is a very bad thing, to be avoided at all costs (forgive me for the pun). But it is neither a bad thing nor a good thing. It is simply a fact of life. Every living thing today is constantly in the mode of local optimization. It has to be, simply to continue to survive in many cases. The tragedy isn't that local optimization exists. It is that we don't understand it nearly so well as a scientist understands the physics of the universe. If we did understand this organizational physics only half as well as a scientist understands, say, aerodynamics, then we might begin to harness the vast energy of the people that make up our organizations.
System vs Programs: by Bill Shireman
There are two ways to approach a problem: by attacking it with a program, or end-running it with a system.
A program is a single action or set of actions intended to influence something outside itself. Typical programs might include: a crime enforcement program, a jobs program, an environmental program.
A system is a set of interrelating parts that performs functions inside itself. It is a set of ideas or objects that must work together to perform a particular function. Typical systems: ecosystems, economies, and within them subsystems such as biosystems, communities, businesses, transportation networks, watersheds, health care, communications, animals, automobiles, human bodies, and so on.
Programs are simple and direct. They confront a problem head-on: a program is instituted which is intended to resolve a narrowly-targeted problem. Politicians like them because they appear to be serious, tough, decisive, and sound-bitable.
Systems are complex and indirect. They are vast fabrics sewn of individual causes-and-effects, which when taken together perform a function which overcomes their individual limitations. Systems deal with problems indirectly; the problem tends to be solved automatically, as a natural consequence of the existence of the system.
Aphorisms A Collection
"The dramatic change in concepts and ideas that happened in physics during the first three decades of this century has been widely discussed by physicists and philosophers for more than fifty years...The intellectual crisis of quantum physicists in the 1920's is mirrored today by a similar but much broader cultural crisis. The major problems of our time...are all different facets of one single crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception...Like the crisis in quantum physics, it derives from the fact that most of us. and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view...At the same time researchers...are developing a new vision of reality...emerging from modern physics can be characterized by words like organic,holistic, and ecological. It might also be called a systems view, in the sense of general systems theory. The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of objects, but has to be pictured as one indivisible dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process". What we are seeing today is a shift of paradigms not only within science but also in the larger social arena...The social paradigm now receding had dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which it shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the world...This paradigm consists of...the view of the world as a mechanical system, the view of the body as a machine...the view of life as a competitive struggle...the belief of unlimited of unlimited progress achieved through economic and technological growth and the belief that the female is subsumed under the male...During recent decades all these assumptions have been severely limited and in need of radical revision. Indeed, such a revision is mow taking place...In science, the language of systems theory. and especially the theory of living systems, seems to provide the most appropriate formulation of the new ecological paradigm. F. Capra
International Encyclopedia of Systens and Cybernetics edited by Charles Francois
Sample page (135)
A current in psychology and psychiatry based on systemic concepts, mainly centered on autopoiesis.
Familiar therapists rejects the "Olympian stance', common in their trade, which induces most psychologists and psychiatrists to believe that they can treat their patients only on the bases of Objective Observation; generic concepts about some classes of mental illnesses and some objective guiding of the patents.
Familiar therapists try to better understand what "being an observer' implies and, as a result, they consider that their interactions with the patients are not neutral. Moreover, they believe that no patent can be isolated from her/his personal environment, and, more specifically from herihis family, which generally presents psychological closure.
The therapist interventions aim at a better integration of the whole family group, including a better adaptation of its members behavior.
ISBN 3-598-11357-9 K.G.Saur Verlag , Publisher. http://www.saur.de
The Wholeness Seminar Excerpted
Re-arranged to tell the story