Tuesday, October 20, 2020 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Anthony Stafford Beer

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An internal combustion engine is 'clearly' a system ; we subscribe to this opinion because we know that the engine was designed precisely to be a system. It is, however, possible to envisage that someone (a Martian perhaps) totally devoid of engineering knowledge might at first regard the engine as a random collection of objects. If this someone is to draw the conclusion that the collection is coherent, forming a system, it will be necessary to begin by inspecting the relationships of the entities comprising the collection to each other. In declaring that a collection ought to be called a system, that is to say, we acknowledge relatedness. But everything is related to everything else. The philosopher Hegel enunciated a proposition called the Axiom of Internal Relations. This states that the relations by which terms are related are an integral part of the terms they relate. So the notion we have of any thing is enriched by the general connotation of the term which names it; and this connotation describes the relationship of the thing to other things... [There are three stages in the recognition of a system]... we acknowledge particular relationships which are obtrusive: this turns a mere collection into something that may be called an assemblage. Secondly, we detect a pattern in the set of relationships concerned: this turns an assemblage into a systematically arranged assemblage. Thirdly, we perceive a purpose served by this arrangement: and there is a system.
p. 242.

Anthony Stafford Beer

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I suggest that the hon. gentleman may be a good corporation lawyer, but he is slipping badly in his history. The capitalist system did not produce the machine age; the machine age produced the capitalist system. The material prosperity that the world has enjoyed for the last seventy-five years or one hundred years has been due to the introduction of power; steam power, then electric power and the internal combustion engine. The capitalist system or the free enterprise system - the terms are synonymous and interchangeable - was the product of the power age. The capitalist system did not produce the power age.

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Charles Sanders Peirce

General Systems Theory is a name which has come into use to describe a level of theoretical model-building which lies somewhere between the highly generalized constructions of pure mathematics and the specific theories of the specialized disciplines. Mathematics attempts to organize highly general relationships into a coherent system, a system however which does not have any necessary connections with the "real" world around us. It studies all thinkable relationships abstracted from any concrete situation or body of empirical knowledge.

Kenneth Boulding

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W. Edwards Deming
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