Reframing Systems Thinking for Systems Changes: Sciencing and Philosophizing from Pragmatism towards Processes as Rhythms | JISSS

David Ing and Gary S. Metcalf, “Reframing Systems Thinking for Systems Changes: Sciencing and Philosophizing from Pragmatism towards Processes as Rhythms.” Journal of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 67: 4154.


Systems thinking rose in 20th century industrial society largely from post-WWII research. Psychologists Eric L. Trist and Fred E. Emery were early in human relations, later turning towards sociology. Philosophers C. West Churchman and Russell L. Ackoff were cofounders of Operations Research, applying pragmatism to problem-solving of complex issues. The texture of Socio-Technical Systems (STS) and Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) perspectives interweaves with management science and inquiring systems.

In the 21st century, the Service Economy and Ecological Anthropocene followed advancement of the Internet and globalization through the 1990s. Resurfacing Trist-Emery and Churchman-Ackoff for a new generation not only revisits their sciencing, but also philosophizing.

Trist-Emery Socio-Psychological Systems (SPS) and STS perspectives extended the structuralist psychology of Gestalt, through Andras Angyal and Kurt Lewin. The SES perspective built on the pragmatist metaphilosophy of Stephen C. Pepper. Sciencing by Churchman-Ackoff encouraged Operations Research beyond mathematics towards collaborative decision-making. Postwar applied philosophizing built on the experimentalism of Edgar A. Singer Jr. This lineage traces from the Metaphysical Club circa 1890, through the 1980s.

Philosophizing in the 21st century provides new lenses for the systems sciences. Through ecological anthropology, Tim Ingold depicts the lives of lines, and texture in weaving. Through Classical Chinese Medicine, Keekok Lee distinguishes yin qi and yang qi. In post-colonial constructionist program of Rethinking Systems Thinking, principal concepts of (i) rhythm, (ii) texture, and (ii) propensity have become the core of Systems Changes Learning practices, theory, and methods. A new world hypothesis of (con)textural-dyadicism is proposed, combining STS and SES features. The associated systems theory foregrounds time-space changes over the defining of space-time systems and boundaries. Philosophizing across Western and Classical Chinese traditions requires deeper inquiry and education.

Keywords: Systems change, philosophy of science, pragmatism, Chinese philosophy, socio-technical, socio-ecological

More about this publication below

Sustainable, Smart and Systemic Design Post-Anthropocene: Through a Transdisciplinary Lens

The Special Issue announced in the past years is published and public! The project was carried out by our CSRP Editorial Team: Marie Davidová, Susu Nousala and Thomas J. Marlowe. The contributing Authors are David Ing, Yannis Zavoleas, Xiao (Bella) Hu, Magda Sibley and Ana Zimbarg. The process was warmly supported by Dr Nagib Callaos and Jelena Sucic.

Follows the abstract of the editorial introduction and the full document with the links to the papers.

Abstract: Sustainability as related to the environment is now just over 50 years old. In that time, especially in regard to human artifacts such as architecture, it has largely focused on human priorities, and how they need to be modified to address or rectify environmental and ecological challenges. A new, post-anthropocene view suggests that it is also important to consider the environment as more than a backdrop whose state and appearance must be maintained, but rather as an actor in its own right, with its own interests, including the interests of the living non-human actors in the local ecology. This special issue seeks to explore this wider notion, and the editors view our introduction as an opportunity to present the journal theme, to introduce the authors and place its papers in context, and to welcome researchers and practitioners to explore this topic further.

The Special Issue – Volume 20 – Number 7 – Year 2022

Editorial Introduction – Sustainable, Smart and Systemic Design Post-Anthropocene: Through a Transdisciplinary Lens
Marie Davidová, Susu Nousala, Thomas J. Marlowe
(Pages: 1-10)

Systems Changes Learning: Recasting and Reifying Rhythmic Shifts for Doing, Alongside Thinking and Making
David Ing
(Pages: 11-73)
Evaluating the Impact of Preconditions for Systemic Human and Non-human Communities
Susu Nousala
(Pages: 74-91)
Post-Anthropocene_2.0: Alternative Scenarios through Nature/Computing Coalition Applicable in Architecture
Yannis Zavoleas
(Pages: 92-120)
Applying a Systemic Approach for Sustainable Urban Hillside Landscape Design and Planning: The Case Study City of Chongqing in China
Xiao Hu, Magda Sibley, Marie Davidová
(Pages: 121-153)
Rethinking Sustainability: Mapping Microclimatic Conditions on Buildings as a Regenerative Design Strategy
Ana Zimbarg
(Pages: 154-172)