555.1 Sociocybernetics and hierarchical systems theory - Philosophical foundation and methodology

Friday, August 3, 2012: 12:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Karl-Heinz SIMON , CESR, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
A prominent concept in sociocybernetics is hierarchy as part of systems architectures. Founded in the 1960ies by M. Mesarovic and his coworkers, the approach was used in several simulation studies, e.g. the second world modeling experiment for the Club of Rome. It was that endeavor that gave early experiments in systems changes a basis, e.g. those performed by H. Bossel. He applied the concept to the question how the future energy system might look like. Several layers were distinguished e.g. that of the technical level but also that of the norms guiding the valuation of the systems functioning (supply guarantee, for example).

The most interesting part of the concept is how the interaction between layers is described and conceptualized. In systems theory the approach to “living systems” by J.G. Miller already dealt with such “cross-level” hypotheses.

 A firm possibility to give the approach a solid fundament is to proceed from philosophical explorations. Nicolai Hartmann’s philosophy could provide such a fundament. He developed an ontology comprising several layers (or levels of ontological description) with a distinction between culture and nature in a first step, and a refinement with a distinction between soul and mind in the sphere of culture and organic and anorganic aspects in the sphere of nature. However, the concept is a non-dualistic one: all the mentioned aspects could appear in the different phenomena. Therefore, also human beings or societal systems show properties associated with different ontological descriptions.

The concepts introduced above are discussed according to applications to society-environment-interactions, especially in the field of technological changes (e.g. the energy sector).