Some Comments on Systems and System Theory

  • Robert Rosen
Part of the International Federation for Systems Research International Series on Systems Science and Engineering book series (IFSR, volume 7)


For a long time, people have been trying to characterize or define the notion of system. After all, “systems” are supposed to be what System Theory is about. The results so far have been contradictory and unsatisfactory. This confusion at the foundations has led many to conclude that there is no such thing as a “system” and hence to deny that System Theory is about anything.1,3 Even those most sympathetic to the notion have difficulties at this level. The very founders of System Theory did not try to say what a system was; and as for System Theory, they characterized it only obliquely, by saying it comprised all studies of interest to more than one discipline.5 They thereby begged the entire question.


System Theory Axiom System Continuum Hypothesis General System Theory Primitive Concept 
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  1. 1.
    D. Berlinsky, On Systems Analysis, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1976.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. J. Cohen, Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis, W. A. Benjamin, New York, 1966.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. Monod, Chance and Necessity, Knopf, New York, 1971.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    B. L. Van der Waerden, Science Awakening, P. Noordhoff, Groningen, 1954.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    L. Von Bertalanffy, General Systems Theory, George Braziller, New York, 1968.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Rosen

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