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Harold J. Morowitz

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The purpose of this book is to discuss and present evidence for the general thesis that the flow of energy through a system acts to organize that system.
Energy Flow in Biology: Biological Organization as a Problem in Thermal Physics (1968), p. 2.
Italics are in the original. Later quoted on the inside front cover of The Last Whole Earth Catalog.

Harold J. Morowitz

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What is a system? A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment. (We are of course talking here about a man-made system.)

W. Edwards Deming

More and more of the flow was diverted from production into the political mechanism. Whatever elements in motion compose a stream of energy, enough must go through to complete the circuit and renew production. Water running in an aqueduct to turn a millwheel is a stream of energy; or electricity going through insulated wires; or goods in process from raw materials to finished product and conveyed by a system of transport. If the water channel is pierced with many small openings en route; or electricity taken off by more and more outlets; or the goods expropiated piecemeal at each stage of the process, finally not enough will go through for maintenance of the system. In the energy system comprised in an exchange of goods, the producers and processors have to get back enough to enable them to keep on producing and working up the raw materials and to provide transport...

Isabel Paterson

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

All our confidence in our ability to act collectively is being undermined, with the subtext message Whatever it is, the private sector can do it better. Never mind that there's no evidence for this. Never mind, for instance, that the private US health-care system is 40 percent more expensive per capita than the Canadian public system, even though the Canadian system provides full coverage for all Canadians and the American system leaves some forty-three million without any coverage at all. This isn't because Canadians are smarter than Americans - it's because we have a public system and they don't.

Linda McQuaig

The purpose of a system is what it does. There is after all, no point in claiming that the purpose of a system is to do what it constantly fails to do.

Anthony Stafford Beer
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