International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.


SPACE (the physical meaning) 1)3)

A. EINSTEIN wrote about two different concepts of space:

"a) space as a positional quality of the world of material objects

"b) space as container of all material objects.

"In case a), space without a material object is inconceivable. In case b), a material object can only be conceived as existing in space; space then appears as a reality which in a certain sense is superior to the material world".

EINSTEIN's synthetic opinion however is: "Both space concepts are free creations of the human imagination, means devised for easier comprehension of our sense experience".

He adds: "The victory over the concept of absolute space or over that of the inertial system became possible only because the concept of the material object was gradually replaced as the fundamental concept of physics by that of the field… that which constitutes the spatial character of reality is then simply the four-dimensionality of the field. There is then no "empty" space, that is, there is no space without field" (in M. JAMMER, 1957, p.XIV – XVI).

H. MINKOWSKI already in 1908 wrote: "Space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality" (in his lecture "Space and Time" – reproduced in "The Principle of Relativity" – Methuen, 1923, p.75, reedited by Dover).

And, as "there is no space without field ", it becomes also obvious that energy and matter, by themselves also fade away as isolated concepts.

P. MANZELLI offers a different, but convergent, view of space: "… the space concept is an essential consequence of the information/matter interactions, that depend on the 'auto-organization' of the dynamical processes in the physico-chemical transformations" (1993, p.333).

Space, like time, matter and energy seems to be an aspect of a global frame for reality (EINSTEIN's field 7) that our mind fragments in its utmost effort to understand "the world there outside".

Via the organization of the brain network, as an information processor, these different notions could finally be parts of our constructed conceptual autopoietic frame of reference.


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

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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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