Middle Human Science (Ludwig von Bertalanffy Lecture) -- John Warfield, August 3, 2002
46th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Shanghai, P.R. China, August 2-6, 2002.
Saturday, August 3, 2002, 11:20 a.m.
This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official
transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be
directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi ).
Introduction by Mike Jackson
Society for General Systems Research from 1954.
Gerald, Boulding, Rapoport, but most importantly Bertalanfffy
John Warfield giving the von Bertalanffy lecture.
Systems science and systems practice are demanding, so start by laughing.
If you like this presentation, be sure to tell me. If you don't like it, talk to Mike Jackson and professor Wu Jie.
Arthur D. Hall III was at Bell
Wanted to publish in a series.
Arthur Hall had put a method on creativity in the volume.
Editor said couldn't put the book in the volume, because creativity isn't scientific.
Presentation slide with 2 pictures:
Bertalanffy sitting on a chair, reading a newspaper, enjoying himself.
Explanation of the middle human science.
It's supposed to be a science.
It has to deal with humans (although it can also deal with machines)
It has to be between the micro level and macro level.
Macro means large theories, can't be applied to smaller situations (as used by economists).
Exceptions mean you don't understand it!
Micro theories that can't be applied to local issues.
Then are left with a middle level -- logic patterns which are generated and interpreted, and applicable to a number of problematic situations.
Dr. Ralph Tsu: The tao of science
When you approach a problematic situation ...
Begin with a concept of the entire universe.
Take things away that aren't relevant to your situation.
Then you're left with what you should involve with your study.
This is a way to look at holism.
How could you be more holistic than to think about everything.
Other extreme: Rene Descartes.
First, clear the mind of everything.
(If you try to do this, was there anything there to start with?)
Gradually bring in one term after another, until you finally understand all of the terms you need.
Can start with everything, or start with nothing, and work toward the middle.
Both of these methods are absurd.
Have to start from massive cognition.
You don't have the whole world in your head, so how can you bring things in.
Can't start with nothing.
Therefore, must start where you are.
In a problematic situation, you either know everything, or must start bringing in more.
e.g. derivatives, derived from concepts
Start looking expansively -- adding to cognition.
Combining holism and (?) into creating an additive situation.
When invited to speak, created a 2-1/2 hour talk.
Then when told given 30 minutes, given another 2 hours tomorrow.
Overview today, in-depth tomorrow.
Seven challenges for systems science.
1. Want to apply more then 2,300 years of second order thought (i.e. thought about thought, rather than thought about X).
Contributions by Aristotle, Abelard, Leibnitz, ...
Everyone has build on Aristotle's syllogisms, making it simpler and easier ...
2. Incorporate and apply results from at least 20 studies of behavioural pathologies
Systems people don't seem to know about these.
Hear people talking about Wiener, control, state space, ...
Made living around these ideas for 10 years.
Ideas on human behaviour and effectiveness, every study affects quality of systems work.
e.g. George Miller and later Herbert Simon, the magical number seven, how many ideas a person can work with, given the limitations short-term memory, an individual pathology
e.g. Groupthink, Irving Janis (JFK and Bay of Pigs decision) and Graham Allison -- a group phenomenon.
e.g. Henry Alberts, structural incompetence in organizations, people are inhibited from doing what they do best, by the bureaucracy around them -- and organizational pathology.
3. Contribute to development of a essential discursivity
e.g. Foucault uses discursivity, about a language that is logically consistency
Chemistry is good at this
Lavoisier was a chemist first trained as a lawyer.
In the systems world, first need a common language.
4. Recognize quality control principles in modeling, design and strategy development.
Never hear systems people discussing this.
e.g. Friedman's theorem, looking at why large mechanistic systems fail
Discovered that people were using bad models, leading to failure.
The reason for the bad models were cognitive limitations, and poor communications.
5. Metrics of complexity
Five: Miller index, DeMorgan index, Spreadthing index, Situational Complexity index, Aristotle's index
Useful in measuring complexity.
e.g. Aristotle's index measures the number of syllogisms in a problematique.
6. Physical infrastructure on working with complexity.
Harold Lasswell, was working with Koichi, overseeing three technical plants in Hitachi.
Lasswell was a political scientist and a lawyer.
Need to see executives and administrators putting money into developing physical spaces.
Liberal arts people get money for buildings, e.g. arts in museums.
Why can't engineers get an adequate physical infrastructure?
People need to be able to look at things, and walk along a wall.
Observatoriums, in astronomy.
Once you develop something in a situation room, there are other people who need to understand who were not present.
Friend at Sony working with secondary school teachers on fractions: e.g. should have teachers walking a wall, talking about it.
They have to be able to see it, not on a computer laptop.
7. To gain a composite effect from accepting all of these challenges
Middle human science?
Who will accept these challenges?
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