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General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications (Revised Edition) (Penguin University Books) Revised Edition
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You get the sense that Ludwig von Bertalanffy also was groping as he wrote General Systems Theory. Between pages 1 and 259 you read many interesting things, but if asked at the end to articulate the fundamental principles of general systems theory, you might be embarrassed. There is nothing here for the mind to take firm hold of, no basic insight from which to build a theory--no universal law of gravitation, no axioms of probability, no fundamental theorem of algebra, not even a grand hypothesis, like random-mutation/natural-selection. A "general theory" of anything is difficult to imagine without such a foundation, which is perhaps why General Systems Theory in the end leaves you feeling undernourished.
Even the mathematical part is unsatisfying. Chapter 3, "Some System Concepts in Elementary Mathematical Consideration," purports to present quantitative tools. "For illustration, we choose a system of simultaneous differential equations," explains the author. But the equations are written in an entirely abstract and thoroughly general fashion, to the point that, if you're familiar with systems of differential equations, the presentation is pat; if not, it's opaque. And once the general solutions are presented, there is no attempt to solidify understanding through examples. This is an exposition for the mathematically conversant in whom intuition is already well developed. There is no attempt to edify the layman.Read more ›
All in all, this book does not provide you with solutions to problems but gives you the ability after reading to ask questions you could not ask before because you did not know the problem at all. For me, it was really interesting to contrast the ideas discussed in the book with our current state of knowlegde over 50 years later (the book covers the work of Bertalanffy from 1930's - 1960's). I recommend this book to everyone interested in foundations of basic research in physics, chemistry, biology and pschology, it should be a must read.
"These considerations lead to the postulate of a new scientific discipline which we call general system theory. It's subject matter is formulation of principles that are valid for "systems" in general, whatever the nature of the component elements and the relations or "forces" between them...
"General system theory, therefore, is a general science of wholeness"...
Wholeness is not new, the Chinese and Greeks had their own versions, but what Bertalanffy did is make it an authentic science.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The value of the work is twofold. First, the presentation of General System Theory in and of itself and second, Bertalanffy himself providing a method of thinking by taking the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Nicolas.Bernard.Leclercq
This is really a seminal work. Nice to go back and see some of the original thinking. Amazed at how contemporary much of it really is (i.e., good theory has a long shelf life).Published 8 months ago by gdouglaso
Excellent book for those interested in system theory, non-linear systems, complex adaptive systems, and related topics. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Chase Mc
I love this book it a good classic to keep for future reference if you are a consultant and need some background information.
Anyone that does research it a must have.
This is has been a very enlightening read. I brought this book for a paper I'm writing in school. I brought it as an eBook so that I could keep digital notes and do quick searches... Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Daryl E Horton
Excellent introductory book to systems. Moves from an overview into specific examples with a focus on biology. A must read for people entering the field.Published on September 13, 2013 by Rockyroost
Before Von Bertanalfy: closed systems only;
After Von Bertanalfy: Open systems, interfaces, interactions, systems engineering, system thinking, system integration,... Read more