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Primer Systems Science - 8 Orientations
Posted by: Eberhard Umbach (
Date: July 02, 2005 11:48AM

Dear colleagues,

eight orientations of systems science are distinguished in my short contribution to the Primer Project, dated June 16, 2005:


I elaborate on one of these orienations. (The longer article that I refer to in the text will be made accessible on about July 5, 2005 by introducing the URL in the above mentioned text.)

I invite you to look at this approach for structuring the Primer, comment it, and write statements about selected orientations for the Primer Project.

At present, the Primer Project site contains about 50 entries, most of them transfered to the new site from old sources by Tom Mandel late in June. This is confusing for visitors of this site.

Distinguishing different orientations, but not too many, and presenting them in concise texts would facilitate interested persons access to systems science, and it could be a means to give the Primer Project some coherence.

Eberhard Umbach

Re: Primer Systems Science - 8 Orientations
Posted by: tom (
Date: July 14, 2005 03:02AM

In any scientific endeavor, it is imperative that a working knowledge of prior research be acquired lest the reader be mislead into believing that what is being presented is "new" knowledge. While it may be argued that "system science" is new as of fifty years ago, it can be shown that the essence of the system, if we are to believe the prior researchers, has predated the science of systems by many decades even centuries. See, for example, Whiteheads "organizmic philosophy". If we allow that the Chinese Yin/Yang is a valid system, then we are talking milleniums. For another example, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, one of the founders of our society, cites in great detail the work of Nicolus of Cuza and his "coincedentia Opositorum." Compare that to the modern version of "elements in standing relationship.

Thus it would be incorrect to assume that "systems science" is a modern invention. And it would be "inadequate anyhow" to limit our science to only what has been produced in the last fifty years as if only that tells the whole story.

Ervin Laszlo, who has written many books of systems thinking, tells us that the emphasis has shifted from matter to an matter-producing-field. This may be new to Western science, but it is not new knowledge. The Chinese have long professed that empty space is full. Today we call it the ZPE and various other names.

Bela Banathy, considered by some to be one of the greatest systemists, describes in great detail how traditional science is severely limited by the methods it uses. So if "science" is to be p[art of the systems movement, it ought to be a new kind of science. At the very least it ought not be limited to the ways of the old science.

It is a mistake to assume that because the word "science" appears in our name, that "science" is all we need to know about. Science, after all, is a methodology. It is not anything more than that. Science is what the scientist does, it is not what reality is. If it were otherwise, then music is not a fit subject of systems science. Nor is art. And especially living.

This is not meant to demean the science of systems, but the true science of systems involves subject matter that transcends traditional science. It includes, for example, general philosophical principles. A subject matter that is not within the domain of empirical science (generalities cannot be scientifically verified). It also includes "actions" which involve values and ethics also not within the domain of science. Science can tell us what is happening, it cannot rightfully tell us if it is good or bad.

Ultimately, the subject matter of systemics is all knowledge. That is because systemics is really about how things works together. A true systemist is a mother, and a true system is like a family.

It is well and good that there are certain scientific orientations in systems science. There is no doubt about that. But to say that systems science is only about those scientific orientations is not telling the whole story.

Strictly speaking, the domains of systemics have been established by our founders. They are the philosophy (general principles) the theory (science) the methodologies (planning) and the applications (doing systemics) These can be integrated into knowledge and actions. In other words "enlightened doings."

This is, if we acknowledge, from prior research, the true nature of systemics.

Of course, we can, as some have already done, dismiss the old system-thinking as "old hat" and rediscover the "old principles" and give them new names, and claim that they have developed a new science as if only they know about it. We can do that too...

To reply specifically to the above message, notice the new organization which mirrors in a concise way the so-called "old" knowledge. I wonder though, why in this society, the pat on the back feels like a stab in the back.

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