"The set of the small number of characteristics to which an organism reacts".(L.von BERTALANFFY, 1962, p.73)
This concept was introduced and developed by J.von UEXKÜLL and G. KRISZAT (1934, 1979)
BERTALANFFY explains the concept as follows: "… any organism, so to speak, cuts out from the multiplicity of surrounding objects a small number of characteristics to which it reacts and whose ensemble forms its ambient" (p.73)
The perceived ambient is only a reduced part of the environment, which does not mean of course that non-perceived environmental conditions could not affect the organism. Examples would be the effects on human beings of ultra-violet or X-rays, which were completely unknown to our forefathers and that we are still unable to perceive directly.
BERTALANFFY also notes that: "… the organizational and functional plan of a living being determines what can become 'stimulus' and 'characteristic' to which the organism responds with a certain reaction" (Ibid).
von UEXKÜLL has given numerous and sometimes startling examples of ambients corresponding to various animals, showing how unexpected and even outlandish they can look for us.
This ambient concept, transferred to human organizations, may help to explain many failures of environmental perception in management.
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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