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.



The basic concept of possible systemic laws was enuntiated by A.A. BOGDANOV in his treatise: "A Universal Organizational Science (Tektology)" (Moscow, Leningrad, 1925-1929, in Russian).

I. BLAUBERG, V. SADOVSKY and E. YUDIN write: "The basic assumption of tektology as formulated by BOGDANOV is that the laws of organization of systems are the same for all possible objects, both material and ideal, thereby making a generalized formulation of these laws feasible: "Structural relations can be generalized in the form of schemata just as rigurous as these describing quantitative relations in mathematics, and this can serve as the basis for solving problems of organization with the aid of methods similar to mathematical ones" (1977, p.26).

A. BOGDANOV himself thus defined the program of tektology: "Tektology must clarify the modes of organization that are perceived to exist in nature and human activity; then it must generalize and systematize these modes; further, it must explain them, that is, propose abstract schemes of their tendencies and laws; finally, based on these schemes, determine the direction of organizational methods and their role in the universal process. This general plan is similar to the plan of any natural science; but the objectives of tektology are basically different. Tektology deals with organizational experiences not of this or that specialized field, but of all these fields together. In other words, tektology embraces the subject matter of all other sciences, and of all human experience giving rise to these sciences, but only from the aspect of method: that is, it is interested only in the mode of organization of this subject matter" (1980, p III).

G. GORELlK, who translated BOGDANOV's book to English, comments: "BOGDANOV insists that the question of organization should be considered on a universal scale, for in absence of such an integral approach its solution is "… impossible, because a part torn out from the whole cannot be made the whole, nor can it be understood apart from the whole" (Ibid).

Further along, BOGDANOV observes: "It is easy to see that there is a special correlation and a deep kinship between mathematics and tektology. The laws of mathematics do not refer to this or that field of the phenomena of nature, as laws of other special sciences do, but to all and any phenomenon… " (Ibid., p.46).

In a bout of – possibly protective – Marxist activism, BOGDANOV also stated: "For tektology the unity of experience is not "discovered", but actively created by organizational means: "philosophers wanted to explain the world, but the main point is it change it" said the greater precursor of organizational science, Karl MARX. The explanation of organizational forms and methods by tektology is directed not to a contemplation of their unity, but to a practical mastery over them" (Ibid, p.61).

That tektology or systemics may be used to try to change the world is a distinct possibility, but one which should be used with care and restraint, because even systemic models are merely models.

In any case, this all is clearly a blueprint for systemics, in 1922, nearly 30 years before L.von BERTALANFFY seminal paper in the British Journal for Philosophy of Science (1950).

The progressive incorporation within the systemic- cybernetic frame of numerous isomorphic models and laws, generalized from some specific discipline, has fully vindicated BOGDANOV's fundamental methodological claim.


  • 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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