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.


THEORY (Minimal axiomatics of any general) 3)

D. Mc NEIL describes as follows the minimal axiomatics of any would be general theory:

"1. There is a constitutive core of concepts which interrelate mutually with one another at the center of the theory, more in the manner of a volutionary loop than of a closed capsule or an aggregate cluster.

"2. There is a mutually productive, even a generative, connection between the central concepts and the peripheral ones where theory is reduced to practice.

"3. The core of the theory is the minimum algorithmic compression from which phenomena described by the theory can be reproduced.

"4. The core of concepts is irreducible in the sense that, although equivalent concepts may be substituted, no central concept can be removed without altering the scope and productivity of the theory or even render it meaningless.

"5. Two or more of the core concepts are complementary in some sense to another.

"6. The central concepts are well-defined, and their connotations harmonize insofar as possible with similar concepts of ordinary enlightened discourse.

"7. The central concepts are expressed at a uniform level of discourse, and different levels of discourse are clearly distinguished and used consistently;

"8. The more general theory relates to less general theories and to special cases through a correspondence principle which acts as a confirmation and a guarantor of the consistency of the more particular theories and of their applications.

"9. Whether explicitly or by implication, the theory describes dynamical fluxes having contours which trace relatively closed loops as well as relatively open links.

"10. Whether in the assumptions or in the expression of the formulation, there are invariants which provide standards for measures.

"11. The theories describe phenomena in the frame of reference of a conceptual space, thus implicitly relating the observer with the phenomena observed" (1993a, p.8).

To establish this list, Mc NEIL inspired himself from MAXWELL's electromagnetic theory and TURING's theory of universal computation (TURING machine).

Point 1 specifies a basic dynamic viewpoint. Point 3 acknowledges G. CHAITIN's work on the subject. Point 4 is obviously related to GÖDEL's incompleteness theorem. Point 6 aims at avoiding useless jargon. Point 7 takes RUSSELL and WHITEHEAD's theory of logical types in account. Point 8 is related to homomorphies and isomorphies. Point 9 is of 1st order cybernetics origin and Point 11 takes care of von FOERSTER's 2nd order cybernetics (of "observing systems").

This array of concepts is a kind of abstract generalization of the dynamic toroidal model that Mc NEIL also proposes. Applied to the concept of a General Theory of Systems it gets it out of the purely structural and static trap.


  • 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).

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]

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