Systemics is the emerging branch of science that studies holistic systems. It tries to develop logical, mathematical, engineering and philosophical paradigms and frameworks in which physical, technological, biological, social, cognitive and metaphysical systems can be studied and developed. Systemics can be considered an alternative name for all research related to General Systems Theory and Systems science.


Systemics is the science of systems. It has been developed by reaction of a tendency in modern science, towards reductionist, immanentist view, according to which knowledge concerning all the parts of a whole would additively entail a complete knowledge of also that whole. Systemics draws methodic attention upon contextuality: making clear the necessity to consider the functionings of the interacting elements from within that system, and furthermore the relation with the systems inhabiting the environment of that system. Mioara Mugur-Schächter, Alwyn Van der Merwe (2002), "Quantum Mechanics, Mathematics, Cognition and Action", 493 pp.]

Systemics tends to generalize results obtained in cybernetics, classical engineering, systems theory and other sciences to derive principles common to many fields, based on scientific paradigms. This inclusion of general principles characterizes the philosophy of systems. Systemics also generates many metaphysical questions, therefore, is closely related to contemporary philosophy, intelligence research and complex systems.

Charles François, editor of the International Encyclopedia of Cybernetics and Systems, in the 1990s suggested that "Systemics" be used to avoid the familiar and ambiguous terms "systems thinking," "systems science," and "general systems theory."

Systemics: Topics

Cognitive and practical motivations

Systemics has two related motivations, one cognitive and one practical. The cognitive or theoretical rationale of systems is the wish to discover similarities among systems of all kinds, despite their specific differences - e.g. between body temperature control systems and furnace thermostats. The practical motivation for systemics is the need to cope with the huge and many-sided systems characteristics of industrial societies - such as communications, networks, factories, hospitals, and armies. This complexity, in particular the variety of components of such systems, violates the traditional borders among disciplines and calls for a cross-disciplinary approach.

Meta language

Systemics and cybernetics can be viewed as a metalanguage of concepts and models for transdisciplinarian use, still now evolving and far from being stabilized. This is the result of a slow process of accretion through inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines. The process started more than a century ago, but has gathered momentum since 1948 through the pioneering work of Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Heinz von Foerster and W. Ross Ashby, among many others. Charles François (1999), [ Systemics and Cybernetics in a Historical Perspective] . in: "Systems Research and Behavioral Science", Vol 16, pp.203-219.]

Scientific methodology

The Argentinian-Canadian epistemologist Mario Bunge developed a very acute critical study of systemics as a scientific methodology, and in a sense philosophy. He debunked some myths concerning abusive holism, but at the same time revindicated the usefulness of systemics, especially in the fourth volume of his "'Treatise on Basic Philosophy: Ontology II. A World of Systems".


Until the 1940's, every science studied systems of some kind, and every specie of system was studied separately. Since that time, a number of specialists joined efforts to launch various cross-disciplinary ventures, such as operations research and cybernetics. They suggested that a unified approach to problems in various fields was possible. The discipline that purports to develop such unified approach is often called "general systems theory". Paradoxically, this is not a single theory but a whole set of theories - automata theory, linear systems theory, control theory, network theory, general Lagrangian dynamics, etc. - unified by a philosophical framework. Mario Bunge in 1979 proposed to call this set systemics, referring to "the set of theories that focus on the structural characteristics of systems". Mario Bunge (1979). "A world of systems". Dordrecht ; Boston, Reidel.]

The term Systemics is used by J.K. Feibleman in his "Foundations of Empiricism" (1962) to name a domain of finite ontology. Systemics was a third domain beside categorematics and axiomatics. [ James Kern Feibleman (1962), "Foundations of Empiricism", M. Nijhoff.]

Applications of systemics

;Systemics of learning [ Robert E. Young (1992), "Critical Theory and Classroom Talk", 65 pp.] [ Richard A. Lesh, Eric Hamilton, James J. Kaput (2007), "Foundations for the Future in Mathematics Education", 245 pp.] In the 1990s Robert E. Young developed a systemics for learning and communication. He saw systemics as action-oriented pragmatics. Utterances are construed as meaningful deeds of special kind, whose meanings are interpretively created by hearers to reference both the words (lexicon) and the structure of words (grammar) to the social situation and to the more general background knowledge of culture. This is precisely Habermas' view. In systematics, speech and writing relate the context of social situation and cultural background in several ways. There is said to be a "field" relation and a "mode" relation of all meaning or messages. [ Robert E. Young (1996), "Intercultural Communication: Pragmatics, Genealogy, Deconstruction", 214 pp.]

;Other applications
* Marketing systemics [ Wroe Alderson (1965), "Dynamic Marketing Behavior: A Functionalist Theory of Marketing", 383 pp.] [ Wroe Alderson, Ben Wooliscroft, Robert D. Tamilia, Stanley J. Shapiro (2006), "A Twenty-First Century Guide to Aldersonian Marketing Thought", 581 pp.]


In 2002 Mugur-Schächter perceives systemics - the science of systems - as failing to obtain the place, which it seemingly had a right to claim, in the unraveling of the paradigms which define the general orientations of the various modern sciences. An element of explanation might be that, though the work developed inside the framework of systemics has produced concepts which, here and there, have been seminal, other such concepts aroused resistance.

See also

* Autopoiesis
* Dynamic system
* Meta-knowledge
* Meta-system
* Meta-theory
* Relativism
* Reliability
* System engineering
* Scientific paradigm
* Socio-cognitive


Further reading

* Mario Bunge (1979), "A world of systems". Dordrecht ; Boston, Reidel.
* Charles François (1999), [ Systemics and Cybernetics in a Historical Perspective] . in: "Systems Research and Behavioral Science", Vol 16, pp.203-219.
* Watson, D. E., G. E. Schwartz, L. G. S. Russek (1998), [$wsr02.html The Theory of Enformed Systems - A Paradigm of Organization and Holistic Systems]
* Donald E. Watson (2005), [$system.html Systemics: The Most Basic Science] .

External links

* [ A Taste of Systemics] By Bela H. Banathy
* [ International Conference on Cybernetics, Informatics, and Systemics, ICCIS 2008]
* [ Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics]
* [ Computational Philosophy of Science] - The MIT Press

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