About Systemology and its Challenges

Systemology is the disciplinary field representing the organised body of knowledge about systems. In our view, a "system" is (paraphrasing Anatol Rapoport) a whole that functions as a whole because of the interactions between its parts, subject to the influence of the interactions between the system and its environment.

Systemology is important because everything is a system or part of one, so if we do not take account of Systemology then the empirical complexity of the world might continue to subvert our attempts to build a thrivable eco-civilization.  This is a problem because at present Systemology does not have an entrenched academic position and the field is fragmented into a diversity of specilizations, discourse domains and worldviews.  In this situation, the integration of natural, social and artifactual systems in our empirical world results in a gobal system that is, to us, unpredictable and ungovernable.

Historically, disciplinary fields have only become scientifically and technically powerful once a theory about their unifying mechanisms starts to take shape.  Theories such as those of Darwin, Mendeleev, Newton and Lyell transformed their respective disciplinary areas by unifying hitherto fragmented areas of study under a common conceptual and explanatory framework, and thus rapidly opened up new avenues of scientific discovery. 

In the case of Systemology the empowering unifying theory about mechanisms would be a General Systems Theory (GST) in the sense of a theory that encapsulates the universal principles underlying the evolution and expression of systemic structures and behaviours.  We call this theory GST*, pronounced “g-s-t-star", to differentiate it from other uses of the term “GST".  Without a GST*, Systemology cannot achieve the unity required of an academic disciplinary field, and without an integral Systemology the empirical complexity of the world is likely to defeat our attempts to design or govern towards thrivability. 

This website is devoted to the promotion of a programme to develop a GST* and the General Systems Transdicipline (GSTD) it would enable.  The Manifesto for General Systems Transdisciplinarity sets out the context and basic requirements for the establishment of GST* and its consequent GSTD.  

Note: This site was originally published on the 4th of August 2015 but is still evolving.