How to improve the conceptual usability of
Systemics in social systems?
The issue relates the urgency to generalize Systemics as cultural subject and not only as scientific one only.
Generalization and Generality
Generalization – Ideal and reference value of Systemics is generalization, i.e. the possibility to use same approaches, methodologies and theories for different disciplinary contexts, thanks to usage of systemic properties recognizable in different disciplinary contexts. For instance the study of adaptability as systemic property in biology, physics, psychology and economics (interdisciplinarity) and per se (transdisciplinarity).
Generalizing is, in short, transdisciplinarity (study of systemic properties per se), based on abstraction, rigorousness and complexity in the belief that such a cognitive disciplinary crossing cannot leave aside communication, mutual representation and equality between different kinds of knowledge.
Generality – Generality, related to popularisation and reasoning by using partial and occasional analogies, also allows using same concepts and approaches for different disciplines, but paying inaccuracy and approximation. For instance considering corporations as machines because, similarly, using resources and producing, or reasoning in a reductionistic way, that’s by reducing an higher level of description to a lower one, such as reducing psychology to neurology, life to biology, learning to memorizing, by considering physic-chemical aspects only. In such a way popularising pays generic understanding by lack of rigorousness, often considered as inappropriate and concessive border violation of the considered discipline. For instance intelligence considered as processing ability, such as for computers.
Going beyond conceptual stereotypes, only part of Systemics
By one side it is important to overpass conceptual stereotypes considering the systemic view reduced to self-regulating processes. This approach was based on a first-order cybernetic view, possible to be translated –thanks to disciplinary proximities- more than generalized to general issues.
In this context System Dynamics introduced important conceptual sophistications, still allowing easy understanding and using, for instance, several systems archetypes:
q accidental adversaries
q attractiveness principle
q eroding goals
q fixes that fail
q growth and under-investment
q limits to growth
q shifting the burden
q success to the successful
q tragedy of the commons
See Braun, W., 2002, The system archetypes.
http://pro.unibz.it/staff/anarduzzo/PGAA/pga-a-processi.pdf (pp. 8-11)
Such an approach is particularly used for modelling and schematising in management.
Generalizing by using Systems concepts
On the other side it is possible to have cultural processes of generalization based on Systems concepts and properties very different (more general) from the one of the first-order cybernetics. For instance:
q Logical Openness
q Collective Behaviour
q Memory (as rebuilding)
q Dissipative Systems
The project relates to making usual and consolidated reasoning by using systemic conceptual categories, able to overpass the simplification assumed in cause-effect relations and in linear approached based on ignoring context-sensitivity.
It is necessary to design actions having effects at general cultural level with special reference to education at all levels.
The central point for this project is given by acting on language, conceptual categories and implicit logic.
q The first activity of the project relates to the definition of the problem and all implications, dealing with powerful antagonistic forces having the purpose to consolidate language and conceptual dimensionalities, functional to needs interested in keeping non-systemic reasoning. Examples are given by changing the idea of freedom based on possibility of selecting between pre-established possibilities with the perspective of creating new possibilities; by substituting attention to short term, details, optimising only with attention to strategies, models, general views.
q The second activity relates to the definition and implementation of articulated and complementary projects, able to activate (i.e. by using metaphors, language, interacting for giving critics and confronting) more than delivering (i.e. by teaching and reading) systems thinking.
It is an interdisciplinary activity involving, for instance, cognitive sciences, psychology, learning and sociology.
The purpose is not to teach Systemics, rather to make its adoption natural at the different social levels, such as schools, families, working places, management, politics, and in special social systems (i.e. hospitals, prisons, temporal communities –transports, social events, distribution- etc.).
Is this objective ethical ? (we are assuming systemic reasoning be better than the opposite).
The central point of the possible answer doesn’t relate to the greater effectiveness, but to the larger visibility on interactions and effects improving responsibility and freedom. Both scientifically and culturally in general.
Which cultural projects and actions in order to induce more than to teach ? It is not matter of dealing with the problem as it was a disciplinary problem.
For instance through implementation of:
q games (for children, software, parlour games). It is important to consider how the systemic aspects particularly relate on the usage of tools, on how to play a game;
q theatrical performance;
q stories creation;
q cases presentation (such as systems archetypes);
q introduction of linguistic innovations, by using neologisms and rare words such as, in Italian:
- Eccellenza (excellence),
- Emergenza (emergence) –different from emergency-,
- essere idealmente responsabile delle proprie azioni verso qualcuno (accountability, to be accountable),
- indicare chi è coinvolto, influenzato da azioni (stakeholder),
- Sicurezza (safety) –diversa da security-,
- eterogeneità (diversity),
words having a different or more limited semantic field in Italian.
to be introduced by using multi-mediality.
It is possible in this way to establish an implicit education, based on considering that Systemics is nor knowledge to be diffused nor learned only. In a second time it is possible, in case, to extend this approach by using classic educational tools such as readings, seminars, lessons, exercitations, etc.
Rome, January 2005