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The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time

Ervin Laszlo

This work attempts to explain the systems view of the world as the paradigm of the latest scientific developments.  A revised edition of the original 1972 title.

Review adapted from Amazon:Systems thinking is more than another new field of scientific and philosophical research. It leads to a new world view, integrating the sciences of nature and man. It is a world view for our times, explaining some some of our most cherished successes and some of our most distressing problems, and showing ways to resume progress toward new achievements. Knowledge of systems thinking is a key to understand modern developments in areas such as physics, business management, ecology, politics, natural resources, etc.

Ervin Laszlo is one of the most important contributors to the development of systems science and philosophy. With "The Systems View of the World" he achieved a remarkably accurate condensation, in a hundred clearly written and pleasantly readable pages, of the fundamental ideas of systems thinking.

The book begins contrasting the systems view of the world, based on integration an understanding of relationships, with the atomistic view of the world, based on decomposition and understanding of parts. He proceeds presenting the concept of system, leading the reader through a series of distinctions and examples. It is interesting to remark that Laszlo does not present a definition of system, coherently with the idea that system is a basic, primitive concept.

Laszlo follows with the explanation of the systems view of nature, summarized in four propositions, which are developed and exemplified:
1. Natural systems are wholes with irreducible properties;
2. Natural systems maintain themselves in a changing environment;
3. Natural systems create themselves in response to self-creativity in other systems;
4. Natural systems are coordinating interfaces in nature's holarchy.

The book's final part deals wit the system's view of ourselves. To do this, Laszlo begins from our cosmic origins, proceeding to the appearance of matter, life, consciousness and finally culture. He emphasizes the importance of values and explains why even traditional values, in spite of their permanent character, must be reformulated to meet the requirements of our times. Laszlo shows how the systems view of the world has a place for freedom and differentiation in an integrated world. He finishes the book stressing the role of religion in human life and proposes that the systems view of the world may offer some openings for conciliation of science with the different religious traditions.

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