No system seems able to survive eternally, save possibly the cosmos as a whole. But even this is merely an hypothesis that cannot be proved or disproved.
Systems can be destroyed by some independent perturbation in their environment, which eventually overwhelms the limits of their conditions of existence.
However self-destruction is very frequent. It can happen in different ways:
- The system may be taxing its environment excessively. A tragic example has been given by J. DIAMOND describing the undoing of Easter Island people (1995), possibly the most perfect example of Malthusian self-destruction by a population overtaxing a closed environment. DIAMOND wonders if this lesson would not apply to humanity as a whole in relation to planet Earth.
- Some subsystem of the system may turn parasitic and consume so much resources as to starve the system as a whole, making it unable to maintain itself.
- Some internal or external parasite may invade the system and also divert excessive resources for its own benefit. Cancerous growth would be a biological example.
- All systems seem to have a characteristic in-built mechanism which limits their survival in time: ageing in biological systems (for ex. apoptosis in cells); sclerosis in human social systems.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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]
We thank the following partners for making the open access of this volume possible: