Though general systems theory is currently the prevailing paradigm in family therapy and social work, there is no accessible text which treats its basic concepts. This book fills the gap by presenting the central ideas of general systems theory in clear and simple language, with a focus on the social sciences. The most important traditional ideas of systems theory are considered along with new ideas running into the 21st Century.; It Begins With Aristotle's Notion That The Whole Is Greater than the sum of its parts. These emergent wholes become the focus of attention in order to study things which are joint productions, like the arms race and intimate relations. Thinking in systems terms means seeing that change in one part changes all parts, like the thaw of the Cold War leading ultimately to the Gulf War. It allows a fresh analytic stance without the necessity of blame that made things worse, such as the retributive policy toward Germany after World War 1, or DDT. New language like feedback gives a way to view social phenomena in terms of systems processes, which may magnify or distort the ultimate effects of actions on a system.; Human systems suggest adding several characteristics to systems language, which originally used to talk about physical systems. The human capacity for meaning-making, picked up on by symbolic interactionists, constructivists, and post modernists, is developed as a Vital Feature Of Human Contexts. This Leads To A Revolutionary Notion Of parallogic: the idea that logic is parallel in differing contexts. Therefore, in systems terms, we can think about multiverse, rather than universe and realities, rather than reality. The complexity of human communications opens a model which captures differences between what is said and what is meant, between verbal and non-verbal communication. Where these differences are paradoxical or conflicting, members of a Context May Come To Be Defined As Mentally Ill. Adding Emotion To Models of human systems provides a way to transcend presumptions about a rational basis to human behaviour.; A wholes approach to the behavioural and social sciences promotes innovative thinking by taking up the revolutionary ideas of cybernetics and co-emergence from the physical sciences, and making them applicable to the study of human groups. Left behind are the ultimately irresolvable paradox of the micro/macro debate and the self-sealing, hence non-productive, directives of conventional assumption-based theories. A new language which works directly at the level of wholes, or contexts, is crucial in a time when issues of globalism are paramount.
Introduction - patterns in theory, theory of patterns. Part 1 Concepts: context; non-summativity; system; unit; causality; cybernetics; action and inaction; co-emergence; agency - impossibility of blame; change; feedback - positive, negative. Part 2 Characteristics: content; content and context - why one and not the other; meaning; parallogic; realities; communication; report and command; you cannot not communicate; double bind; emotion; supra-rationality; definitional deficit and definitional equality; context and content - light through a prism; ahead; science; multiverse; emotion; subjectivity; tools; data; decoding; general construcuts.