What is a system?

One example is a circulatory system – with our heart at the centre.

Another example is a group of people – how they interact, their shared experiences and culture.

So systems can be a grouping and how we look at groupings.

We can learn about systems in at  least two different ways.

  1. We can look at each element in a system in order to understand how it works by adding together the knowledge we gain about each element.
  2. And we can look at the system as a whole and try to understand it as a whole.




3 thoughts on “Systems

  1. like anything, the concept of looking hollistically at the whole rather than the sum of it parts normally gets a better outcome. Look at a person and the body as a system – it doesnt function too well when one of the key body systems eg circulatory/respiratory systems dont work well – if just one piece ie heart &/or lungs dont work then its very hard for body to do its stuff.
    Expanding that analogy, if society is made up of lots of people then you upset the balance in one area and others suffer/go crap as a result. The organisation fits in-between the person and society, and again interacts with and affects both groups.
    Only by looking at the totality of the system do you see its true interactions and where its broken. Nature is always the best teacher – from the micro molecular/atomic level all the way to the planet level, it is systems at play that determine the outcomes.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      I agree that it is often better to look at the whole system.

      A lot of standard ways of understanding things look at studying only the parts and ignore the system-level views – which are often much trickier to comprehend.

      • look at just a part is really risky, and more often the cause of stuff ups … look from the whole to the parts when you see the problems so that you hit the right problem areas. Concentrating on 1 area means that you might only be seeing/fixing half the problem.

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