Bertalanffy and beyond: improving systemics for a better future


Yagmur Denizhan (Bogazici University, Turkey)
David Rousseau (Centre for Systems Philosophy; and University of Hull, UK)


Paper sessions

Call for papers

This symposium will discuss the need for, and potential routes to, more advanced or new kinds of Systemics.

Over the last 150 years it has become clear that the world is complex in ways that go beyond the abilities of traditional forms of reductionism to analyse.  Systemic approaches clearly represent a major advance on traditional reductionism, but despite enormous progress over the last 40 years the Systemics we have today are not adequate for all our needs.  Furthermore, we do not yet have a unified science of complex systems, nor a unified systemic worldview:  the contemporary Systems Movement is highly fragmented in terms of outlooks, methods and ambitions.  Moreover, the presently available Systemics have been developed via diverse routes from disparate foundations, and we have no unified perspective on how new Systemics are or could be discovered.  The challenges encountered today in almost all fields of science and human activity indicate that there is a great need for the development of an overarching framework of understanding and representation which will serve as a guide to, rather than a restriction on, the evolution of thought.

The need to establish such a clarifying and fecund framework has now become critically urgent.  Contemporary society faces significant existential and developmental challenges, and civilisation may now be at a crossroads where if we cannot act to ensure we are on the road to global thrivability we will almost certainly find ourselves on the road to global extinction.  To deal with these challenges we need to develop powerful new Systemics, or at least find ways to radically improve the existing ones.  This urgent need applies at all levels, including the technological, the personal, the social, the cultural and the environmental.

Target groups

We are calling for papers that reflect on what sorts of advances are needed in the field of Systemics, and how they might be attained.  Examples of suitable topics for Symposium papers include:

  • Examination of the gap between the capability of available Systemics and the complexity of the problems we seek to address;
  • Identification of traits in past and present Systemics which restrict our ability to overcome the kinds of fallacies or resolve the kinds of problems that underlie the contemporary crisis;
  • Reflections on the present Systemics’ origins, and whether these sources are relevant or helpful for the development of better or new Systemics in the future;
  • The role and value of the Systems movement in the generation of new Systemics;
  • The significance of General System Theory (GST) and/or the General Systems Worldview (GSW) for the development of future Systemics;
  • New pathways to, and new grounds for, the next generation(s) of Systemics;
  • Proposals for schemas that could bridge the gaps between the disparate strands of systems thinking and practice, and/or establish a unified framework for the relationships between the Systemics;
  • Proposals for activities that could support work towards developing the new Systemics we so urgently need.