Systems Science and Cybernetics

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Editor(s):
Francisco Parra-Luna
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3
Published:
2009
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The subject “Systems sciences and cybernetics” is the outcome of the convergence of a number of trends in a larger current of thought devoted to the growing complexity of (primarily social) objects and arising in response to the need for globalized treatment of such objects. This has been magnified by the proliferation and publication of all manner of quantitative scientific data on such objects, advances in the theories on their inter-relations, the enormous computational capacity provided by IT hardware and software and the critical revisiting of subject-object interaction, not to mention the urgent need to control the efficiency of complex systems, where “efficiency” is understood to mean the ability to find a solution to many social problems, including those posed on a planetary scale. The result has been the forging of a new, academically consolidated scientific trend going by the name of Systems Theory and Cybernetics, with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary focus and therefore apt for understanding realities still regarded to be inescapably chaotic. This subject entry is subdivided into four sections.

The first, an introduction to systemic theories, addresses the historic development of the most commonly used systemic approaches, from new concepts such as the so-called “geometry of thinking” or the systemic treatment of “non-systemic identities” to the taxonomic, entropic, axiological and ethical problems deriving from a general “systemic-cybernetic” conceit. Hence, the focus in this section is on the historic and philosophical aspects of the subject. Moreover, it may be asserted today that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, problems, in particular problems deriving from human interaction but in general any problem regardless of its nature, must be posed from a systemic perspective, for otherwise the obstacles to their solution are insurmountable. Reaching such a perspective requires taking at least the following well-known steps: a) statement of the problem from the determinant variables or phenomena; b) adoption of theoretical models showing the interrelationships among such variables; c) use of the maximum amount of – wherever possible quantitative – information available on each; d) placement of the set of variables in an environment that inevitably pre-determines the problem. That epistemology would explain the substantial development of the systemic-cybernetic approach in recent decades.

The articles in the second section deal in particular with the different methodological approaches developed when confronting real problems, from issues that affect humanity as a whole to minor but specific questions arising in human organizations. Certain sub-themes are discussed by the various authors – always from a didactic vantage –, including: problem discovery and diagnosis and development of the respective critical theory; the design of ad hoc strategies and methodologies; the implementation of both qualitative (soft system methodologies) and formal and quantitative (such as the “General System Problem Solver” or the “axiological-operational” perspective) approaches; cross-disciplinary integration; and suitable methods for broaching psychological, cultural and socio-political dynamisms.

The third section is devoted to cybernetics in the present dual meaning of the term: on the one hand, control of the effectiveness of communication and actions, and on the other, the processes of self-production of knowledge through reflection and the relationship between the observing subject and the observed object when the latter is also observer and the former observed. Known as “second order cybernetics”, this provides an avenue for rethinking the validity of knowledge, such as for instance when viewed through what is known as “bipolar feedback”: processes through which interactions create novelty, complexity and diversity.

Finally, the fourth section centres around artificial and computational intelligence, addressing sub-themes such as “neural networks”, the “simulated annealing” that ranges from statistical thermodynamics to combinatory problem-solving, such as in the explanation of the role of adaptive systems, or when discussing the relationship between biological and computational intelligence.

Francisco Parra Luna was born in 1937. He studied Economics and Business Administration and worked as Controller and Administrative Director en La Cruz del Campo, S.A., in Seville, and Cerveceras Asociadads, in Barcelona. He has doctorates in Sociology and Political Science from the Universities of Lausanne and Geneve (Switzerland), and the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. He is Catedratico de Sociologia in this University. He created the “Working Group on Systems Theory” in the International Sociological Association” and participated as Chairman of several international meetings. He is a member of several academic associations and belongs of the editorial board of several journals on systems theory and sociology. He has published about fifty scientific articles in professional journals and several books, among them, Towards Comparing National Social Performances (University of Lausanne, 1974);Balance Social y Progreso Empresaria (Edit. Cirde, Madrid, 1980); Sistema Sociopolitico y Seguridad Social en España (Ed. Index, Madrid, 1980); Los Emigrante en españoles en Francia (Instituto Esp. de Emigración, Madrid, 1981); Sociología Industrial y de la Empresa (written with J. A. Garmendia and M. Navarro, Edit. Aguilar, Madrid, 1987); Politica de Empleo y Bienestar Social (Ed. Eudema, Madrid,1988); El Balance Social de la Empresa (Ed. Deusto, Bilbao, 1989); Sociologia de la Empresa y de los Recursos Humanos (Taurus, Madrid, 1993); La Empresa contra si misma (Ed. Deusto, Bilbao, 1993); Sustainable Development (written with J. L. Elohim and E. Stuhler, Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munchen, 2000); and The Performance of Social Systems (Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York, 2000).

Table of Contents (46 Chapters)
  • 1. Systems Science and Cybernetics: The Long Road to World Sociosystemicity

    Francisco Parra-Luna
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    Volume : 1
  • 2. System Theories: Synergetics

    Hermann Haken
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    Volume : 1
  • 3. History and Philosophy of the Systems Sciences: The Road Toward Uncertainty

    Charles Oscar François
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    Price : US$15.00
    Volume : 1
  • 4. General Systems Theory

    Anatol Rapoport
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    Price : US$7.50
    Volume : 1
  • 5. Living Systems Theory

    G.A. Swanson,James Grier Miller
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    Volume : 1
  • 6. Entropy Systems Theory

    Kenneth D. Bailey
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    Volume : 1
  • 7. Actor-System-Dynamics Theory

    Tom R. Burns,Thomas Baumgartner,Thomas Dietz,Nora Machado
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    Volume : 1
  • 8. Ethics as Emergent Property of the Behavior of Living Systems

    Gianfranco Minati
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    Volume : 1
  • 9. Axiological Systems Theory

    Francisco Parra-Luna
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    Volume : 1
  • 10. Evolutionary Complex Systems

    I. B. Bálsamo
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    Volume : 1
  • 11. Epistemological Aspects of Systems Theory Related to Biological Evolution

    E. Tiezzi,N. Marchettini
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    Volume : 1
  • 12. Socio-Technical Systems: History and State-of-the Art

    E. Hanappi-Egger
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    Volume : 1
  • 13. The Geometry of Thinking

    Curt McNamara
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    Volume : 1
  • 14. Systems Approaches: A Technology for Theory Production

    J. Gutiérrez,J. M. Aguado
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    Volume : 2
  • 15. The Systems Sciences in Service of Humanity

    A. Laszlo,E. Laszlo
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    Volume : 2
  • 16. General Systems Weltanschauung

    Elohim Jiménez -López
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    Volume : 2
  • 17. Metamodeling

    Alan E Singer
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    Volume : 2
  • 18. Designing Social Systems

    Bela H. Banathy
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    Volume : 2
  • 19. A Systems Design of the Future

    Mario Bunge
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    Volume : 2
  • 20. Soft Systems Methodology

    Ricardo A. Rodríguez-Ulloa
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    Volume : 2
  • 21. Social Problem Diagnosis: A Sociopathology Identification Model

    Paris Arnopoulos
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    Volume : 2
  • 22. Critical Systems Thinking

    Karl-Heinz Simon
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    Volume : 2
  • 23. Total Systems Intervention

    L. Warren
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    Volume : 2
  • 24. Integrative Systems Methodology

    M. Schwaninger
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    Volume : 2
  • 25. WSR Decisions for a Sustainable Future

    Z. Zhu
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    Volume : 2
  • 26. Psychological and Cultural Dynamics of Sustainable Human Systems

    Paul Maiteny
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    Volume : 2
  • 27. The Dynamics of Social and Cultural Change

    R. Vanderstraeten
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    Volume : 2
  • 28. Formal Approaches to Systems

    Antonio Caselles
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    Volume : 2
  • 29. The Quantification of System Domains

    John P. van Gigch
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    Volume : 2
  • 30. Chaos: Back to "Paradise Lost": Predictability. The Century of the Emergence of Systemic Thought and Chaos Theory

    Lorenzo Ferrer Figueras
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    Volume : 2
  • 31. Transdisciplinary Unifying Theory: Its Formal Aspects

    Marilena Lunca
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    Volume : 2
  • 32. General Systems Problem Solver

    George J. Klir
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    Volume : 2
  • 33. Cybernetics: Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge

    Ernst von Glasersfeld
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    Volume : 3
  • 34. History of Cybernetics

    R. Vallée
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    Volume : 3
  • 35. Existing Cybernetics Foundations

    B. M. Vladimirski
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    Volume : 3
  • 36. Second Order Cybernetics

    Ranulph Glanville
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    Volume : 3
  • 37. Knowledge and Self-Production Processes in Social Systems

    Milan Zeleny
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    Volume : 3
  • 38. Cybernetics and the Integration of Knowledge

    Bernard Scott
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    Volume : 3
  • 39. Cybernetics and Communication

    V. U. Degtiar
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    Volume : 3
  • 40. Bipolar Feedback

    Hector Sabelli
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    Volume : 3
  • 41. Computational Intelligence

    K. Mainzer
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    Volume : 3
  • 42. General Principles and Purposes of Computational Intelligence

    Leonid Reznik
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    Volume : 3
  • 43. Neural Networks

    Igor Vajda and Jiri Grim
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    Volume : 3
  • 44. Simulated Annealing: From Statistical Thermodynamics to Combinatory Problems Solving

    D. Thiel
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    Volume : 3
  • 45. Adaptive Systems

    R. Pla-Lopez
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    Volume : 3
  • 46. Biological Intelligence and Computational Intelligence

    G. A. Chauvet
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    Price : US$15.00
    Volume : 3
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