The Synergy between General Systems Theory and the General Systems Worldview

David Rousseau, Julie Billingham, Jennifer Wilby, Stefan Blachfellner

Abstract


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”.


Keywords


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

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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.