Whether considering the first systems of written communication with Sumerian cuneiform to Mayan numerals, or the feats of engineering with the Egyptian pyramids, systems thinking inessence dates back to antiquity. Differentiated from Western rationalist traditions of philosophy, C. West Churchman often identified with the I Ching as a systems approach sharing a frame ofreference similar to pre-Socratic philosophy and Heraclitus. Von Bertalanffy traced systems concepts to the philosophy of G.W. von Leibniz and Nicholas of Cusa's coincidentia oppositorum. While modernsystems are considerably more complicated, today's systems are embedded in history.
The systems view was based on several fundamental ideas. First, all phenomena can be viewed as a web ofrelationships among elements, or a system. Second, all systems, whether electrical, biological, or social, have common patterns, behaviors, and properties that can be understood and used to develop greaterinsight into the behavior of complex phenomena and to move closer toward a unity of science. System philosophy, methodology and application are complementary to this science. By 1956, the Societyfor General Systems Research was established, renamed the International Society for Systems Science in 1988. The Cold War affected the research project for systems theory in ways that sorelydisappointed many of the seminal theorists. Some began to recognize theories defined in association with systems theory had deviated from the initial General Systems Theory (GST) view. The economistKenneth Boulding, an early researcher in systems theory, had concerns over the manipulation of systems concepts. Boulding concluded from the effects of the Cold War that abuses of power always proveconsequential and that systems theory might address such issues. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a renewed interest in systems theory with efforts to strengthen an ethical view.
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