Preliminary meeting Vienna September 19, 2000 for preparing the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ludwig von Bertalanffy's birthday
"...the overall fate of the world depends on the sdoption by humanity of a
new set of values based on a general systems Weltanschauung. "We are
seeking another basic outlook: the world as organization. This (outlook)
would profoundly change the categories of our thinking and influence our
practical attitudes. We must envision the biosphere as a whole...with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependancies. We need a global system of mutually simbiotic societies, mapping new conditions int a flexible institutional structure and dealing with change through constructive reorganization."
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
During this celebration it will be examined how the Systems Thinking, that
has been evolving during the last three decades, since Bertalanffy produced
a General Systems Theory, have contributed to solve the urgent problems of
This celebration comprises two phases:
A CONVERSAZIONE based on exchange of views, through e-mail (*), about
Bertalanffian thoughts and their development at present
A CONFERENCE that will be held November 1 - 4, 2001,
at the University of Technology of Vienna [Technische Universität Wien] in Vienna It will be organized as a combined Forum for the conventional presentation of papers, traditional lectures and conventional speeches and posters, and also for implementing a kind of Open Space for self-organized debates and discussions
(*) Everybody is invited to examine critically the Bertalanffy's contributions
and to express his/her views about proper ways of making more useful, for
the systems community, to recognize the Bertalanffian achievements,
sugestions and warnings. An exchange of points of view may take place
through a bertalanffy-list (e-mail) sending the message:
A confirmation will be sent to every subscriber by this "bertalanffy-list" which means that he/she will receive and be able to send messages.
Participants are particularly invited to search out and comment resonable answers to the question: Why, how and what for should we create a WELTANSCHUUNG (worldview) at the dawn of the 21st century
Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy was born September 19, 1901. He was educated by private tutors at home until he was ten, the age of entry into the Gymnasium (the nine-year European institution). Perhaps.in part because of his private tutoring, Ludwig began school with many academic advantages such that he was able to pass his examinations with honors despite a poor attendance. record. His attendance record reflected his desire to study at home rather than spend time in class, and his continued home study tended to perpetuate his academic superiority
The concept of system, though it seems to be intrinsic to human thinking, has been explicitly and quite extensively employed and developed all along the last few decades due in a large measure to contributions made by Ludwig von Bertalanffy who (aware of the synergetic character of ecological macro-systems and of micro synergetic phenomena in general) as a perpetuator of natural philosophies from previous centuries and as a scientific pioneer of the present century, was:
- the first to undertake a mathematical rigorous approach to the understanding of biochemical synergies,
- came to both evolve and name general systems-theory (GST), with concept and schematic strategies -
- first seek out the parameters or known behaviors of the hypothetical considered whole" [nomination for the Nobel prize sent by R. Bucminster Fuller, though it was not considered due to the unexpected death of Bertalanffy]
His comprehension of such possibilities culminated in October of 1954 when, through agreement with Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard & Anatol Rapoport, the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory was constituted (later changed to Society for General Systems Research in 1957). Its manifesto defined a general system as any theoretical system of interest to more than one discipline. That definition was far less ambitious than the Bertalanffian vision of "laws for systems in general", but Bertalanffy agreed to the compromise in the belief that even a thousand-mile journey must begin with one step.
He advocated that we dare to broaden our loyalty from nation to globe and urged that we become patriots of the planet, endeavor to think and act primarily as members of humanity, and begin pledging our allegiance to humanity and to the earth on which we stand, one planet indivisible for all. "We must begin protecting the individual and cultural identity of others".
He advocated a new global morality, "an ethos which does not center on individual good and individual value alone, but on the adaptation of mankind, as a global system, to its new environment". "We are dealing with emergent realities; no longer with isolated groups of men, but with a systemically interdependent global community. It is this level of [reality] which we must keep before our eyes if we are able to inspire large-scale action designed to assure our collective and hence our individual survival."
We are approaching the end of the so far most controversial century in the history of humankind. Our civilization looks nowadays as if it were a conclusive achievement of the human performance due to the superb advances of scientific knowledge and the magnificent development of all kinds of technologies generated by human intelligence & ingenuity. However, this civilization has become a paradoxical success due to enormous difficulties generated to the survival of living beings that inhabit our unique planet due to lack of ethical, ethological and ecological criteria in the manifestation of many human affairs which are exclusively concerned with the management of good business and larger profits for very few special humans.
Human survival , in Bertalanffy's view, was the paramont purpose for cultivating the uncommon sense of general systems theory. He believed that the need for a general systems consciousness was a matter of life and death, not just for ourselves but also for what historian Arnold Toynbee computed to be 77,000 future generations that are possible on this planet before the death of our sun.
References have been taken from:
Uncommon Sense The life and thought of Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Father of General Systems Theory . Mark Davidson, 1983Submitted by elohimjl email@example.com
See also Luminaries