W.R. ASHBY explains thus the concept: "To join two systems, A and B say, so that A affects B, A must affect B's conditions. In other words, the values of some of B's parameters (perhaps one only) must become functions of (dependent on) the values of A's variables" (1960, p.77).
According to ASHBY: "This concept is of the highest importance in biology, in which it occurs frequently and prominently. It occurs whenever we think of one system having an effect on another, or communicating with it, or forcing it, or signalling to it" (p.76).
He develops the concept as follows: "In very simple cases, the behaviour of the whole formed by joining parts can be traced step by step by logical or mathematical deduction. Each part can be thought of as having its own phase-space, filled by a field; which field it is will depend on the position of the other part's representative point. Each representative point now undergoes a transition, guided by its own field, whose form depends on the position of the other. So step by step, each goes forward guided by the other and also guiding it." (The process has been traced in detail in 1969, Sections 4/7).
"This picture is too complicated for any imaginative grasp of how two actual systems will behave; the details must be worked out by some other method. What is important is that the nature of the process is conceptually quite free from vagueness or ambiguity; so it may properly be included in a rigorous theory of dynamic systems" (p.77).
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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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