In Memory of Past Presidents of the ISSS -- Plenary, July 10, 2003
47th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Hersonissos, Crete, July 10, 2003.
July 10, 2003, 9:40 a.m., Plenary Session
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 ).
Heinz von Foerster, born 1911, ISSS president
James Grier Miller, born 1916, ISSS president
Ilya Prigogine, born 1917, ISSS president
Howard Odum, born 1924, ISSS president 1991-1992
[Stuart Umpleby on Heinz von Foerster]
Primarily role in cybernetics
Norbert Wiener -- Idea to study the nervous system, and
build equipment for the second industrial revolution
Warren McCulloch -- meetings in NYC, Macy Foundation
Over 10 years, field of cybernetics
Heinz von Foerster invited on where the memory was
in the brain -- at the molecular level.
His English was bad, so assigned the task of editing the
proceedings, supervised by Margaret Mead
Led the movement of second order cybernetics
Observations independent of the chracteristics of
the observer are not phyiscially possible.
Witness in courtroom
Heisenberg uncertainty principle
Social construction of knowledge
Added a dimension to science:
Correspondence theory: if add previous
explanation, knowledge can add a new dimension.
Pays attention to observer, whereas scientists
believed that all scientists should be able to reproduce the same
Adds not only to science, but also the philosophy
of science, which gives more leverage.
Solving a problem in Central Europe.
Stuart was a graduate student under
Heinz was a dynamic speaker.
Second order cybernetics accepted in Europe but
not in U.S.
Europe is much more deductive, whereas U.S. in
In Europe, tolerance is not respectable, because
it means you're not certain of your ideas.
Cybernetics, through physiology, means that there
is no alternative, and certain isn't possible.
Research tradition in Europe, was guided by the
idea that it's desireable to tolerate multiple ideas.
A radical view of ethics
Second order cybernetics and constructivism says
that my view of the world is my responsibility.
Each person operates in a separate
We need others to confirm our nature of the
If the world that is what I see ...
[Ken Bailey (professor of sociology, UCLA) on James
When Miller was 67 years old in 1983, he lived in San
Diego, and could commute up to L.A. every week.
Taught living systems course together between 1983
Died 8 weeks after his wife Jesse died
Started school early, because he was so smart
His parents kept him out of school for a year when
he was 15.
Met Jesse before that.
Learned stenography and typing -- for editorial
Went one year to bible school, father was a
Was a junior fellow at Harvard -- like being a young
Discouraged from getting a higher degree, because
believed that he had already achieved.
With Paul Samuelson (economics) and George Homans
(sociology), studied Pareto's thermodynamics.
Taught first year medical school course.
Homans took instructions, and only got a M.A.
Miller got degrees in psychology, and then
His work is similar to Parsonian functions, but not
quite the same, using the idea of mathematical functions.
Miller worked a little with Talcott Parsons, as a
Met Alfred North Whitehead, who had retired, but was
close by the area.
When Miller published his first white in 1971, some
citation to Whitehead.
Most of career in academics
Started the behavioural science
Continued the work there.
Publication of Living Systems in 1978 by McGraw
Became president of University of Kentucky.
Was president of ISSS in 1973, but also started the
System Science foundation, that owns the journal Behavioral Science
Had staff and facilities at Louisville, because he
was the president of the university.
Founder and editor of Behavioral Science, until it merged
with Systems Research.
Strong editor of grammar and style.
Authored over 100 books and articles.
Problem with the book: he got upset with Living
Systems as an encyclopedia, but that was how McGraw Hill published
Color plates, so published by encyclopedia
Good because it's complete, but bad because it's
Paperback as U. of Colorado press
New editor at McGraw Hill, didn't know what to do
with remainders, so he burned them up.
1978 book: 7 levels, with functions and
Miller didn't emphasize enough combining the
dimensions to give a matrix of 133 cells.
Tried to find an example of every
1982 expanded to 8 levels.
Not every cell found, particularly at cellular
Process, matter, energy, information.
[Gianfranco Minati (president of Italian Society for
Systems Study) on Ilya Prigogine]
Nobel prize in chemistry in 1977.
Focus on great ideas
Introduced thermodynamics of irreversible processes
The role of time in physics
Study of the physics of living matter
Introduced models of formal processes
Competition in neural networks
Sensitivity to initial positions
Non-linear thermodynamics: continuous dissipation
[Roger Packham, professor of agriculture, U. of West
Sydney on Howard Odum]
Not a student of Howard Odum, and didn't work with
Through ISSS, as a new president to the
In his 60s, still active in research
Had come across Odum's work, in Australia, looking for
an alternative approach to agriculture.
Ecology, to study the human issues in
Work in the wetlands of Florida.
David Symington visited Australia, a student of Howard,
spoke about energy.
Valuable role to play.
Some facts on Howard
Center of Wetlands at the U. of Florida, focus on
environment, of which agriculture plays a large part.
Studied ecology of south Florida in 1970s, funded by
Department of Environment.
Ph.D. in biology at Yale.
Taught at Florida, Duke, U. Texas, U. Puerto Rico,
U. of North Carolina, before returning to Florida.
Was a prolific writer, 15 books, whereas people
didn't normally publish those days.
1971 book, Environment, Power and Society -- ahead of its time,
now republished in 2002
Newest book with his wife, what do we do as fossil fuels
Politicians want growth, it's impossible.
World economy will have to stop growing
"The Prosperous Way Down", for us to live with
Howard Odum was a gentleman, a host.
A great supporter of ISSS.
ISSS was recreating itself.
During presidency, negotiated taking ISSS to other
Asked to help organize a meeting in
Presidents want meetings nearby, majority view was
to have the U.S.
Howard said ISSS board had made a commitment to go
to the U.S., and the incoming president had to accept this.
Met at U. of West Sydney.
Resulted in the birth of the Australia - New Zealand
Howard Odum was fundamental in this.
This is how he worked: put ideas in, and let
A talk using some of his energy systems, analyzing
First Iraqi War.
In terms of energy, one U.S. soldier == 20 Iraqi
Equation balanced out in oil reserves
[Markus Schwanginer (U. of St. Gallien) on Stafford
Friend and mentor
University of St. Gallien works only on social
Decision in the 1970s, based on studying the
literature in systems theory: Miller, von Bertalanffy, Rapoport,
Decided to build program based on systems theory and
Founder of management cybernetics
Helped at all levels of management.
Founded Team Syntegrity Inc., in Canada, as a
International consultant, worked in 25
South America and Central America
Advocated holistic thinking
Trademark to consider problems in wide
To 1961, at United Steel, largest OR group.
Then headhunted to SIGMA -- Science in General
Management, or Stafford is gone mad again
1966: International Publishing
Proposed world wide web 30 years ahead
Life in a cottage in Wales, smoking, drinking and
1980s, moved to Toronto with Allena Leonard, as the
Visiting professor: Manchester, Wharton, John
MBA from Manchester, Ph.D.
Not only a president of ISSS, but also Operations
Trustee of ASC
Conflict: should he become a philosopher or
mathematician, realized both were the same things.
Set theoretic model for the viability of any human or
Became the Viable System Model.
Transferred into the domain of
In 1990s, design a new process for communications:
Complementary for the VSM, System 3 and System 4
Protocol for democratic management
Also published poems and exhibited paintings.
Zest for life.
Loyalty for students and friends.
[A silent minute to honour the past presidents]
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