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.


TRUTH: (no definition given, of course… and quote marks "….." should be used) 3)

According to general scientific common sense, truth is supposed to exist and to be attainable by the human mind in a kind of asymptotic way, through progressive refinement of experience and thought, including insight and intuition.

C.S. PEIRCE defined "truth" as "the opinion that would be agreed if scientific inquiry were to continue long enough, the opinion that can withstand all possible experiential evidence and full logical scrutiny".

This is quite similar to K. POPPER's later view on knowledge progress through "falsification", i.e. refutation of existing views after new experimentation.

Or, in logic, "truth is an isomorphism between objects and symbols" (G. HUNTER, as quoted by F. FRISCHKNECHT and J.van GIGCH, 1989, p.243).

However, in its classical meanings, truth presents a difficult, and probably unsolvable ontological question, because of our indirect perception of reality through a sensory equipment that filters it in a selective way.

In a quite more restricted and realistic vein, J.van GIGCH writes: "We conveniently sidestep the problem of defining what is meant by "truth" by saying that… solutions obtained from problem-solving methodologies shall be labeled "truths". Also to be valid, "truths" should:

"1. Meet the objectives of those who framed the problem,

"2. Meet criteria of internal coherence,

"3. Correspond as far as possible with perceived external reality,

"4. Be accepted by its recipients, and,

"5. Be morally justified" (1983, p.44).

van GIGCH himself however admits that: "The issue of what constitutes a "morally acceptable" solution is not treated here, but pertains to the broader question concerned with the Morality of Systems" (Ibid).

Moreover, point 1 could lead to a kind of pseudo-ontological expediency.

Point 3 correctly denotes the observer's problem, while point 4, implies that "truth" is a matter of consensus, and thus at the same time, specific to some group, eventually modifiable and easily shifting (I.I. MITROFF & H.A. LlNSTONE, 1993, p.24).

More generally, "truth" depends as stated by van GIGCH, from the paradigm in force and offers always cultural overtones.

Truth anyhow implies coherence, as it should be non-contradictory in itself, and in relation to the experimental field. This leads to the constructivist viewpoint according to which truth is progressively constructed by observers.

From a more Popperian viewpoint, and in J. MINGERS words: "The process of disclosure is never ending and, therefore, truth is not an achievable end-state, or correspondence of theory to the world, but a horizon never reached, a never-ending process" (1992, p.175).

Some consider truth as the complete reception of all existing world views.

Of course, such a view of truth is totally social and remains scattered among all individuals simultaneously.

This make it impossible to "pin it down" in a unified way because the global synthesis can never be constructed, nor in a static, neither in a dynamic form.

Moreover, contradictions or psycho-semantic incoherences between different views (for ex. between the mathematical view and the idealistic or religious one) makes any compositional view of truth totally unpractical.

"Ontological agnosticism".


  • 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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