The Synergy between General Systems Theory and the General Systems Worldview

David Rousseau, Julie Billingham, Jennifer Wilby, Stefan Blachfellner


The founders of the general systems movement envisaged the development of a theory articulating and inter-relating the principles underlying the systemic behaviours of all kinds of concrete systems.  We call this theory GST* (“g-s-t-star”) to disambiguate it from other uses of the term “GST” prevalent in the literature.  GST* is still radically underdeveloped, but its nature can be analysed.  GST* is a formal theory, because the principles of GST* would apply across all kinds of systems, that is, GST* would predict behaviours and structures of systems qua systems, without regard for the kind of system under consideration, and hence it is neutral with respect to ontology.

There is a long-standing controversy within the systems community about whether a GST* actually exists, whether it would be of practical value, and how its principles might be discovered.  In this paper we argue by analogy from the history of science that if a GST* existed it would be highly valuable, and show that its existence is predicated on the assumption of a philosophical framework called the General Systems Worldview.  We present an argument that development of the General Systems Worldview can guide us to discovery of general systems principles for a GST*, and that together GST* and the GSW can ground the development of a powerful General Systems Transdiscipline, now called “General Systemology”.


General Systems Theory, GST, GST*, Systems Philosophy, General Systems Worldview, General Systemology

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Systema: connecting matter, life, culture and technology (ISSN: 2305-6991) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.