o-Systems Philosophy

Systems Philosophy is "a discipline aimed at constructing a new philosophy (in the sense of worldview) by using systems concepts. The discipline was founded by Ervin Laszlo in 1972 with his book Introduction to Systems Philosophy: Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought. It has been described as the 'reorientation of thought and world view ensuing from the introduction of "systems" as a new scientific paradigm'." [wikipedia article]

For more on Systems Philosophy, please visit the Centre for Systems Philosophy website. You can also find some useful information on the Wikipedia page on Systems Philosophy.

This SSWG project intends to explore the philosophical foundations of Systems Engineering (SE), and through that to support expansion of the theoretical foundations of SE. This will contribute to "Systemology," which is the organised body of knowledge dealing with systems.

As Laszlo explained, Systems Philosophy is a worldview grounded in General Systems Theory (GST). GST, as originally proposed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, is a theory encapsulating the principles underlying the behaviours that recur across multiple kinds of systems ("systemic isomorphies"). GST is a formal theory about the nature of Nature, and together with Systems Philosophy provide a grounding for what von Bertalanffy called a “meta-discipline”, because it involves fundamental insights about the nature of the concrete world that are applicable to multiple disciplines. In current usage this makes it a transdiscipline, which can be called the "General Systems Transdiscipline" (GSTD). The attributes of a transdiscipline are known independently from systems research, so this knowledge can enhance our understanding of the potential of the GSTD.

Transdisciplinarity springs from insights about patterns than emerge only by looking across disciplines, so tell us something about the fundamental nature of the world; hence it is a powerful additional problem solving technique

  • GSTD is about systems and is general, so it applies always and everywhere

  • The implication is that GSTD is useful for research:

    • at the boundaries of knowledge (radically expand practical knowledge );

    • into fundamental aspects of Nature; and

    • the Big Questions.

  • These are classes of problems within which the classic problems of General Systems Research (GSR) are special cases

  • As a transdiscipline the GSTD would provide with a new way of problem solving, not just a means to attain the long-desired objects of GSR, and make GSTD relevant to a wide range of important contemporary research programmes.

Below is a presentation by David Rousseau and others on "In Search of a General Systems Transdiscipline". This was presented and discussed at IW15.

Below that is a copy of the webinar David Rousseau gave on "Systems Philosophy and its relevance to Systems Engineering".