"A property or properties of a set of objects and/or events that they do not have when taken separately" (R.L. ACKOFF & F.E. EMERY, 1972, p. 255).
These authors illustrate their definition as follows: "If John and Mary are married, then married is a property of the pair" (Ibid).
An other good example is water (H2O) whose properties result from the chemical bond between two H and one O, while however inexistant if these atoms are not binded in the specific H2O molecule.
Specificity implies that relations are necessarily non-stochastic coupled interconnections.
St. BEER refers to an "Axiom of Internal Relations" enunciated by HEGEL, according to which "… the relations by which terms are related are an integral part of the terms they relate" (1968, p.242).
It would possibly be clearer to say that any element acquires new polarities when it becomes part of a set or system. In effect, relations are in many cases only potential or intermittent.
The simplest relations are dyadic. However, many dyadic relations lead to the production of a third element, transforming the relation into triadic.
I.I. MITROFF and H.A. LINSTONE indicate that "… the number of possible relations among subsets in a system comprising only three elements is at least 49. In general, one has (2 – 1) relations, where n is the number of elements. A system comprising ten elements thus may involve at least 1 million possible internal relationships" (1993, p.115).
As a result, many significant relations can easily be overlooked, particularly in very complex social systems. Those considered are not necessarily the most significant, according to BEER's following suggestive comment: "In practice however, we acknowledge relatedness only when we are ready to declare its relevance" (Ibid).
This implies a possible problem: In many cases, some relations exist, but, as observers, we do not perceive them. Moreover, relevance itself is a matter of criteria, not always clearly conceived or enounced and, in any case, relative to the goal we try to achieve.
The methodic search for meaningful relations and for meaningful criteria to be used in this search is without doubt one of the most important topic of systems research.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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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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