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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.