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Systems Science and Philosophy

In co-operation with the Systems Science Working Group of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), the Centre for Systems Philosophy, and the Hull University Business School the Research Group Systems Science and Philosophy, intends to explore the philosophical foundations of Systems Science and Systems Engineering (SE), and through that to support expansion of the theoretical foundations of SE. This will contribute to “Systemology,” which is the organised body of knowledge dealing with systems.

As Ervin Laszlo explained, Systems Philosophy is a worldview grounded in General Systems Theory (GST).  GST, as originally proposed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, is a theory encapsulating the principles underlying the behaviors that recur across multiple kinds of systems (“systemic isomorphies”).  GST is a formal theory about the nature of Nature, and together with Systems Philosophy provide a grounding for what von Bertalanffy called a “meta-discipline”, because it involves fundamental insights about the nature of the concrete world that are applicable to multiple disciplines. In current usage this makes it a transdiscipline, which can be called the “General Systems Transdiscipline” (GSTD).  The attributes of a transdiscipline are known independently from systems research, so this knowledge can enhance our understanding of the potential of the GSTD.

Transdisciplinarity springs from insights about patterns that emerge only by looking across disciplines, so tell us something about the fundamental nature of the world; hence it is a powerful additional problem solving technique.
  • GSTD is about systems and is general, so it applies always and everywhere
  • The implication is that GSTD is useful for research:
    • at the boundaries of knowledge (radically expand practical knowledge);
    • into fundamental aspects of Nature; and
    • the Big Questions.
  • These are classes of problems within which the classic problems of General Systems Research (GSR) are special cases
  • As a transdiscipline the GSTD would provide with a new way of problem solving, not just a means to attain the long-desired objects of GSR, and make GSTD relevant to a wide range of important contemporary research programmes.


David Rousseau

David Rousseau PhD BEng FRSA is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Systems Philosophy in Surrey, UK, Member of the Scientific Council of the BCSSS, and a visiting Fellow of the Centre for Systems Studies in the University of Hull.

He is a Council Member of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) and the ISSS Special Integration Group (SIG) Chair for Systems Philosophy and the ISSS SIG Chair for Research towards General Theories of Systems. His early career involved more than 20 years in senior management, programme management and systems engineering roles in the aerospace and semiconductor industries. In 2007 he returned to academia, where he studied Philosophy of Mind and investigated exceptional human experiences from a scientific systems-philosophical perspective. His current research is focused on the unity of knowledge, the modelling of the nature of Nature, the ontological foundations of moral intuitions, and the development of a General Systems Transdiscipline. david.rousseau@systemsphilosophy.org


Jennifer WilbyDr Jennifer Wilby is a Senior Lecturer in the Hull University Business School (UK), Vice President for Administration and a Past President in the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), an Academician in the International Academy of Systems and Cybernetics, a member of the Scientific Council of the Bertalanffy Centre for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS), and a board member and Past President of the United Kingdom Systems Society (UKSS).  She holds a PhD in Management Systems, an MPH in Public Health, an MSc in Cybernetic Systems and a BA in Political Science.  Her current research is focused on using Systems Philosophy, Hierarchy Theory and transdisciplinarity to develop a General Systems Transdiscipline that can address pathologies in the global system.


Julie Billingham

Julie Billingham BSc(Hons)(Mathematics) is an e-commerce business strategy consultant at Demandware Inc, and Scientific Advisor to the Centre for Systems Philosophy (CSP).  Her early career included 12 years modelling and simulation to support decision making, initially in the defence industry, subsequently in the environmental sciences and later in a range of enterprise spatial contexts.  Having co-founded an online library leveraging the then nascent concept of social networking, she turned to start-up consulting with a focus on emerging web opportunities and analytics-driven decision making.  At Demandware she advises some of the world’s largest online retailers on strategies for optimising their e-commerce operations, and has a particular interest in systemic approaches to organisational development. In the CSP, her current research focus is on strategies for developing a General Theory of Systems.


© Jürgen T. Sturany

Stefan Blachfellner is the Managing Director of the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) in Vienna, hosting the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research and the Circular Economy Forum Austria, a former Vice President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), and former Vice President and General Secretary of the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR). From 2016 to 2018 he was appointed as Special Adviser to the European Commissioner for Transport.

He has broad experience as an entrepreneur and business consultant, and has taught entrepreneurship, leadership, creativity and innovation management, future studies, and various systems theories at several universities and in professional management training programs in Austria, Germany, Slovenia, France, Belgium, China and the USA.

His current projects are focused on the development of a General Systems Transdiscipline, Systems Design, Systemic Innovation and Impact Assessment to improve methods for addressing complex challenges towards the so called Next Economy, in particular the Circular Economy.

The ISSS Conference 2019 – A buzzing hub for the BCSSS and scientists throughout the systems sciences

After both deep conversations and playful workshops at the American Society for Cybernetics Conference, Ray Ison (BCSSS Board member) and Angelika Schanda (BCSSS Program Manager) traveled south, from Vancouver, British Columbia to Corvallis, Oregon to attend the 63rd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). This…

Article on the Contribution of the Systems Sciences to the Humanities by BCSSS President Alexander Laszlo is now available online

Alexander Laszlo, BCSSS President, has, together with Ervin Laszlo published an article on “The Contribution of the Systems Sciences to the Humanities”, in 2003. The full article is now availabe online. Summary. The article presents the systems sciences as a field of inquiry and discusses the way in which it…

David Rousseau connects with European, Middle-Eastern and African communitites at INCOSE EMEA Sector Systems Engineering Conference in Berlin, Germany

Following his active engagement with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) throughout 2018, BCSSS Scientific Council Member David Rousseau concluded the year by participating at EMEASEC from November 5 to 7 in Berlin, Germany, the regional conference of the EMEA Group which connects Europe, Middle-East and Africa. The visit…

Lecture and Discussion with Cadell Last on Global Brain Singularity: Universal history, future evolution and humanity’s dialectical horizon

On September 25th close to thirty people, at the BCSSS and in the online live webcast, attended Cadell Last’s lecture on his PhD thesis, his “life time project”, which he presented for the very first time in a public event. Stefan Blachfellner, Managing Director of the BCSSS, welcomed the large…

New Paradigm Research: Webcast and publications by and with Alexander Laszlo

The President of the BCSSS, Alexander Laszlo has been active throughout fall and published several papers as a co-author, including “The Polarization Effect: Healing our Worldviews” and “Attracting our Future into Being: The Syntony Quest” — both in World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research together with Anneloes Smitsman. Alexander, furthermore, participated in a…

Strong Participation of the BCSSS at the #ISSS2018 – 62nd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Science

The BCSSS was strongly represented at the #ISSS2018 – 62nd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Science, which took place at the College of Engineering of the Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, United States from 22nd to 27th of July 2018. David Rousseau, the current President…

ISSS 2018 Corvallis – Register now and meet BCSSS Members!

ISSS 2018 is getting closer! REGISTER NOW! DON’T MISS THE EARLY DISCOUNTED REGISTRATION ENDING WITH 15 MAY 2018! On this year’s theme “Innovation and Optimization in Nature and Design” we warmly invite you to share in the 62nd Annual Meeting of the  International Society for the Systems Sciences in July…