Paradigm Change From the Systemic View to Systems Science

Paradigm Change From the Systemic View to Systems Science

Janos Korn
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/ijss.2015010103
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A brief historical description of the ‘systemic view' is given with conclusion of its shortcomings and possible use. This ‘view' is placed in the context of ‘human intellectual endeavour' the constituents of which are evaluated briefly from the point of view of their role and usefulness to people in a society as means of problem solving which is a universal activity of living things. Conventional science of physics turns out to be the most significant constituent with the ‘systemic view' being of little consequence at the moment. Thus, a paradigm change towards a ‘systems science' to follow the methodology of conventional science is suggested and outlined. The new form of ‘systems science' could turn out to be also significant. ‘Systems science' through problem solving and design can act as a carrier for penetration into social awareness.
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1. Introduction

1.1. Formulation of the Problem

The term ‘paradigm’ refers to a framework of concepts which are used at any given time or epoch for creating thoughts for the expression of views, opinions or beliefs about parts of the world [Anon.1994]. Paradigm changes usually take place when a current paradigm is judged to be unsatisfactory in some way or does not meet expectations by an individual. It is, thus, a problem solving exercise. Paradigm changes have been going on in the arts especially in painting and sculpture for a long time. Perhaps the most significant paradigm change had taken place in the 17th century Renaissance when superstition, mysticism, tradition and religion dominated by appeal to authorities such as that of Aristotle in the middle ages, began to give way to natural philosophy later called conventional science of physics. The change was associated with names like Galileo, Newton, Boyle and others [Pledge, 1996]. This is called the 1st paradigm change.

1.2. A Brief History of the ‘Systemic View’

The term ‘system’ has been used sporadically by men of science over the past such as the ‘Ptolemaic or Copernican views of the solar system ’, ‘systems of rigid bodies’ or a ‘system of differential equations’ and by people in the course of their lives like ‘road system’, ‘communication system’ and so on, usually when a complex object or activity is perceived and needed to be referred to. The term came into a wider use with the development of servomechanisms, or control systems during the 2nd WW, for example for directing antiaircraft guns, followed by the huge expansion of control theory [Nise, 2008]. Concurrently and later topics like ‘operational research’, ‘cybernetics’, ‘systems dynamics’, ‘viable systems’ etc emerged. Strands of thinking like ‘interpretive, emancipatory, critical approaches’, ‘chaos theory’, ’complexity science’, ‘reflexivity’, ‘cybernetics’ and so on have opened up (Jackson, 2000, Umpleby, 2000, Scott, 2004, McMillan, 2008).

Thinkers like von Bertalanffy and Boulding realized the general applicability of the term ‘system’ or the systemic view of parts of the world for describing states and events which appeared complex resulting in ideas like ‘general systems theory’ as some kind of a super theory [Bertalanffy von, 1950]. They rejected the relevance of ‘conventional science of physics’ in its entirety which with hindsight was a mistake. Its content may not have been entirely relevant but its attitude to problem solving and its methodology could have been retained together with domain knowledge of entities which enters the ‘systemic view’ at specific points to contribute to the ‘continuity of the scientific enterprise’ [Korn, 2009, 2011, 2012a, 2013].

Further developments aimed at a general systems theory were made [Klir, 1969, Troncale, 1985, Yi Lin, 1999] but lately attempts along this line were abandoned. As an alternative, evolution of what is claimed ‘systemic thinking or systemic view’ has been going on along highly speculative lines of diverse topics interspaced by methods of modelling and attempts at systems design most with ill defined, vague concepts which were difficult to apply to particular, problematic scenarios [Checkland, 1982, Warfield, 1994, Banathy, 1996]. Design thinking of identifying a problematic initial state and striving for its transformation into a resolution is inherent in these efforts but how precisely this is accomplished is vague with a lack of precise symbolism leading to the construction of a prototype for the accomplishment of the transformation. A vast number of publications has appeared, conferences and courses at university but not at school level have been held. Control theory has been widely recognised as a separate discipline and had always been a problematic issue in engineering education which was recognised much later [Towill, 1975, Korn, 2009, 2012a]. The essentially universally applicable systemic view has become fragmented into information systems, social systems, soft/hard systems, service systems, control and computer systems and so on. And the trend continues unabated [Bosch, 2013].

In addition, there is a variety of ‘systems tools (such as influence diagrams)’, ‘techniques (black box technique, Petri nets, UML and so on)’ and ‘methodologies (soft system methodology)’ without significant basis in the symbolism of natural language and design thinking [Korn, 2009, 2013]. Their appearance and development may be due to a ‘feeling’ that there are vaguely defined ‘related objects’ acting as the subject matter of the ‘systemic view’ [Checkland, 1982, Jackson, 2000, Fowler, 2004].

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