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[ba-unrev-talk] Fwd: [issues] Round Table on Bertalanffian Thinking (STIQE 2002)

>From: elohimjl <elohimjl@mail.zserv.tuwien.ac.at>
>Sender: owner-issues@isss.org
>Dear colleagues,
>Let me express first that I thank Prof. Matjaz  Mulej and Prof. Miroslav 
>Rebernik the invitation to participate in  a Round Table on Bertalanffian 
>Thinking (STIQE 2002).
>Secondly, just in case some of you have not been informed properly, let me 
>mention that last November 1 - 4, 2001, culminated the celebration of the 
>100th Anniversary of Ludwig von Bertalanffy's Birthday.  This event was 
>only a modest contribution towards the proper recognition of the work 
>carried out by the Father of the General Systems Theory , which I could 
>discover only recently when I had the opportunity to read "Uncommon Sense. 
>The life and thought of Luwig von Bertalanffy" though Mark Davidson wrote 
>this biography since 1983.
>After all it is important to notice that Mark accepted the challenge to 
>write his biography when he:
>"(... discovered) that Bertalanffy has espoused a single standard of 
>morality which is a viewpoint I find irresistibly appealing because it is 
>extremely rare and (to my mind) absolutely necessary if humanity is to 
>survive."..."As a single-standard-bearer in general, he was a scientist 
>who repudiated the arrogance of scientism, a biologist who rejected the 
>heredity-is-everything dogma of biologism, a laboratory researcher who 
>questioned the absolute value of empiricism, an agnostic who denounce 
>materialism, and a systems science pionner who warned that systems science 
>could be used for totalitarism"
>BAC 2001 took place with the presentation of several papers that were 
>dealing with systems needed for coping with problems seen through 
>biological, social, philosophical, technological, methodological and 
>mathematical interpretations. The participants could start only to 
>recognize the humanitarian concern that motivated Bertalanffy to declare:
>the overall fate of the world depends on the adoption by humanity of a new 
>set of values, based on a general systems Weltanschauung (worldview). "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 
>interdependencies. [We need] a global system of mutually symbiotic 
>societies, mapping new conditions into a flexible institutional structure 
>and dealing with change through constructive reorganization."
>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." The need for this new morality, he said, 
>was imperative: "We are dealing with emergent realities; no longer with 
>isolated groups of men, but with a systematically 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"
>to envision the biosphere as a whole, because everyone can perceive and 
>comprehend gradually the dynamic features of some aspects of the 
>terrestrial surroundings when it is necessary to focus on "the still 
>higher systems of animal and plant communities, ecosystems in which the 
>disruption of a part jeopardizes the whole"
>"We know and control physical forces only too well, biological forces 
>tolerably well, and social forces not at all. If, therefore, we could have 
>a well-developed science of social systems, it would be the way out of the 
>chaos and impending destruction of the present world."
>However what is very important in these statements is the fact that they 
>were derived from the concept of open system which could be considered the 
>main conceptual contribution of Bertalanffy searching to comprehend how 
>living beings and social organizations should organize their individual 
>Open systems are maintained by "the continuous flow of matter"..."Living 
>beings are not in being, they are happening. They are the exprssion of 
>a  perpetual stream of matter and energy which passes through the organism 
>and at the same time constitutes it
>"the organism is not a passive automaton reacting to stimuli but rather is 
>an autonomously active system",
>"In open systems we have not only production of entropy due to 
>irreversible processes, but also import of negative entropy. This is the 
>case in the living organism which imports [consumes nutrients with] 
>complex molecules that are high in free energy. Thus living systems 
>maintaining themselves in a steady state, can avoid the increase of 
>entropy, and may even develop towards states of increased order and 
>In addition Bertalanffy put forward the need of creating a "new image of 
>man" emphasizing the decisive role our species can play in shaping its own 
>destiny. He based his new image of humanity on evidence that Homo sapiens 
>creates and environment of its own out of symbols, and thus humans have 
>the ability to direct their own evolution on ethical levels, through the 
>cultivation of those symbols we call human values.
>"mechanistic attitudes had seeped into virtually every area of social 
>behavior, encouraging doctors to view pacients as cases, employers to 
>regard workers as units, advertisers to regard consumers as 
>stimulus-response robots, and television programmers to reduce the public 
>to a set of demographic numbers".
>"Man is not only a political creature; he is above all an individual".
>humanity faces a clear and present danger of being dehumanized, even 
>destroyed, by debasing self-images, ...a self-image portraying the human 
>being as just another animal would tend to make us indifferent to social 
>inequalities and to make us fatalistic about the recurrence of war, 
>...human being as merely a physico-chemical machine would tend to justify 
>Big Brother techniques of behavior control. "What is badly needed is a 
>timely image of man. Since the previous proud image derived from religion 
>and philosophy does not serve modern needs efficiently, a new image should 
>be synthesized....I would contend that this is a very important business 
>indeed---to find out what is actually human"
>humans create their own reality, not because objective reality doesn't 
>exist but because human knowledge depends on what humans are able and 
>willing to perceive
>"No world view, general systems theory included, is ultimately truth or 
>ultimately reality. Each is a perspective or an aspect, with all-too-human 
>limitations owing to man's natural and cultural bondage. We cannot jump 
>over our own shadow. General Systems Theory is perspectivistic, not a 
>"nothing-but" philosophy but a view that is tolerant of other philosophies 
>and experiences"
>The statements and arguments shown above have been taken from the book 
>written by Mark Davidson, whom I thank a lot his endeavor which has 
>allowed many systems people (including myself) to realize the greatness of 
>Bertalanffy's work.
>Supported by these statements while trying to be aware of time and space 
>circumstances I dare to suggest that the Round Table on Bertalanffian 
>Thinking (STIQE 2002) might be concerned with
>New Image of Man and Woman
>supported by a new General Anthropology:
>The main question that humans need to examine is to find out what kind of 
>women  and men are needed in the 21st century for making possible to 
>reconceive how every human individually may develop his/her personality 
>taking into account that:
>1)      Other 6 billion individuals must and will as well organize their 
>2)      The biodiversity that made possible the emergence of the homo 
>sapiens sapiens should be maintained and improved (not at all for making 
>profitable business, efficient trade or lucrative financial transactions) 
>in order to increase the survival chances of humans on the Earth while 
>learning to fairly share the terrestrial environments with all the other 
>animals, plants, fungi...;
>3)      The features of the whole planet that made possible the emergence 
>of life in this miniscule point of the Universe are not granted forever, 
>neither can be preserved whatever humans may imagine they could locally, 
>regionally and globally do through their disrupted minds, conditioned by 
>selfish ambitions.
>....bearing in mind that there are human minds that have succeeded in 
>increasing the danger of dehumanizing humans (through robotomorphism and 
>zoomorphism) as Bertalanffy denounced since the 1960s. The trend of 
>actions "scientifically" organized in order to design the behavioral 
>engineering (Skinner) based on an assumed science of behavior control 
>(Watson) derived from the knowledge acquired of conditioned reflexes in 
>rats (Pavlov) has been maintained until today with the aim of genetically 
>creating super humans who will be served by the society conceived by 
>Skinner "The problem is to design a world which will be liked not by 
>people as they are now but by those who will live in it" Behaviorism 
>implicitly leads towards totalitarianism (either a benevolent one, as in 
>Huxley's Brave New World, or a malevolent one, as in Orwell's 1984) that 
>aims at increasing the control of people.
>....searching consequently reliable ways for building the 
>interdisciplinary enterprise (comprising human biology, psychology, 
>psychiatry, sociology, linguistics, economics, the arts,...) that may help 
>to create societal circumstances needed for allowing the individual 
>emergence during the life of every person searching on his/her own to 
>consciously develop his/her peculiar personality, while learning to exert 
>humanely his/her intrinsic spontaneity when unavoidably being confronted 
>to diverse cultural, economic and social conditions determined peculiarly 
>by the performance of all the other humans that constitute every human 
>Bertalanffy aware of this danger considered necessary to find out a "new 
>science of man" or general anthropology "The image of man is not only a 
>theoretical question,... it is a question of the preservation of man as human"
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