A system (from ancient Greek sýstēma, “a whole made up of several individual parts”) is generally referred to as a delimitable, natural or artificial “structure” that consists of various components that are (can) be viewed as a common whole due to certain ordered relationships .
There is no standard definition of the term , as the meaning assignment varies greatly depending on the subject. Accordingly, the preceding sentence is also an abstraction in the sense of a greatest common denominator . The following details of the individual parameters are possible:
- The spatial and / or temporal limit of a system can be physically described by its physicality or certain forces (real / material / concrete systems) - or it can be purely conceptually constructed, expedient (ideal / immaterial / theoretical systems) .
- All natural systems are real systems that have arisen without specific anthropogenic influence and that ( autopoietically ) maintain themselves (examples: quantum system , atom , molecule , living system , cell , organ system , psyche , ecosystem , planetary system ).
- Artificial systems are systems that were conceived and constructed by humans . They can be material or immaterial; however, often combine both. A distinction is made between (real) technical systems (examples: tools , machines , computers ), social systems (examples: social group , family , ethnic group , association , religious community , company ) and socio-technical systems (examples: information system , internet ).
- Biotechnical systems (examples: cattle breeding , sewage treatment plant , artificial heart ) and socio-ecological systems (examples: cultural landscape , post-mining landscape , nature reserve ) represent a mixture of natural and artificial real systems .
- Material systems are divided into open , closed and closed systems depending on the type of exchange with their environment . The system theory examines the structures and processes fundamentally different material systems.
- Intangible systems are exclusively artificially created, conceptual systems that do not develop their own dynamics without being “pushed” by humans and whose existence depends on material systems (examples: conceptual system , coordinate system , axiom system , statute , model , theory ).
- The components (elements, parts) of a system are determined by the fact that they fulfill different functions or tasks in the system that can be separated from one another. Basically, any real ( planet , tree , organ , component, etc.) or imaginary object ( sounds , gestures , signs , symbols, etc.) can be part of a system. A system can contain subsystems and can itself be part of a more comprehensive system ( supersystem ). The type of components and their order determine the spatial appearance of the system.
- The (real or constructed) order within systems is based on regularities that result in certain patterns in the interaction of the behavioral possibilities, which basically lead to predictable effects (provided all parameters are known). These structural rules determine the degree of complexity of the system.
- The relationship between the components is informational , material and / or energetic in nature and acts as an interaction , influencing and / or connection . The degree and / or the establishment or expansion of relationships is called networking . The cybernetics studies the relationships and mechanisms between system components.
Specific uses of the term are proposed, discussed and applied in various specialist areas.
If there is no relationship between the parts of a whole, it is not a question of a system, but of mere quantities , heaps or mixtures of substances ; even if the constructed arrangement of the parts is subject to a certain system and is referred to as a "system" (examples: biological system , periodic table of elements).
History of concepts and ideas
The Greek expressions σύστημα, σύσταμα, σύστεμα were used as "a generic term for all associations, including the public sector".
In addition, σύστημα is used
- in the field of medicine, e.g. B. for a "system" of pulse beats
- in the field of music theory, e.g. B. for a "system" of intervals
- in the field of literary theory, e.g. B. in the meaning of a "composition"
Plato draws on the use of music theory in his late dialogue Philebos . He speaks of the many "connections" that arise from the "spaces" of the tones and of "similar relationships" in the movements of the body, which can also be measured in numbers; at the same time one must consider what is “one and many” therein; through this kind of consideration one arrives at “insight”, which however, because of the infinity of every concept and thing, can never be closed.
The pseudo-Platonic dialogue Epinomis relates the term "σύστημα" to the numbers with which the laws of the star orbits can be grasped.
The term system has been used in various contexts since the 16th century. B. related to the sphere of politics first by Thomas Hobbes in the sense of a political entity .
System concept of systems theory
As a systems theory research directions are referred to various disciplines in summary, the complex relationships described by general theories to the functioning of systems in general. Around 1950, Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901–1972) was the first to define systems as interrelationships that distinguish themselves from their environment, which in turn consists of other interrelationships. According to the basic ideas widespread in this context, systems can be understood as self-organizing functional units that produce their continued functioning themselves (cf. autopoiesis ) and differentiate themselves in a specific way from their environment, for example by expressing specific ways of differentiation. An example: Seafarers set certain animals out on an island in order to be able to hunt them there later. As a result, the system of animals and plants that had existed on the island up until then gets “mixed up”; a new system is created. Sometimes endemics arise (= plants or animals that only occur in a specific, spatially clearly delimited environment). In disciplines that deal with living organisms , systemic psychology and biology as well as sociology, living systems are distinguished from other types of system.
System term in structural linguistics
Structural linguistics (see Structuralism ) is based on the notion that individual linguistic elements are not based on their own meaning, but rather on their relationships to other elements - their entirety being described as a system with this general property, among other things.
- F.-P. Hager et al. a .: system; Systematics; systematically . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10 (1998), pp. 824–856.
- S. Jensen: Systems Theory; System, social . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10 (1998), pp. 863–869.
- Wolfgang Schrader, Hans-Joachim Höhn: System, system theory . In: Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. Volume 9 (2000), Col. 1216-1220.
- R. Schulz: System, biological . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10 (1998), pp. 856–862.
- Geo Siegwart: System . In: Jürgen Mittelstrass (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science . Metzler, Stuttgart 1996, Volume 4, p. 184 ff.
- Karl Steinbacher u. a .: system / system theory . In: Hans-Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy , 2 volumes. Meiner, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-7873-1629-9 , Volume 2, pp. 1579-1588.
- Sytse Strijbos, Carl Mitcham: Systems and Systems Thinking . In: Carl Mitcham (Ed.): Encyclopedia of science, technology, and ethics . Thomson Gale 2005, Volume 4, ISBN 0-02-865901-5 , pp. 1880-1884.
- Joachim Valentin: Art. System - systematic / system theory . In: Albert Franz u. a. (Ed.): Lexicon of basic philosophical concepts in theology . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2003, pp. 394–396.
- Literature on the subject of systems in the catalog of the German National Library
- Rudolf Eisler : Article System , in: Dictionary of philosophical terms , Berlin 2nd edition 1904.
- Friedrich Kirchner : Article System , in: Dictionary of basic philosophical terms , 1907.
- Michael Matthies: Lecture notes introduction to systems theory . ( Memento from July 18, 2011 in the Internet Archive ; PDF) University of Osnabrück (On the system-theoretical concept of systems, pp. 2 ff. And 9 ff.)
- Hans Ulrich : The enterprise as a productive social system (= enterprise and enterprise management. Volume 1). Haupt, Bern / Stuttgart 1968, pp. 105–111.
- Reinhard Wagner: Conveying basic systems science concepts. Master's thesis in natural sciences, University of Graz 2002, pp. 2–5 and 9–18 ( PDF: 1.4 MB, 130 pages on fraktalwelt.de ).
- Wilhelm Dangelmaier : Methods of computer-aided production and logistics. Part 2: Systems. Lecture script of the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn 2017, pp. 2, 4–6 and 15 ( PDF: 939 kB, 22 pages on uni-paderborn.de ).
- Gert Heinrich : General system analysis. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58365-6 , pp. 6-9.
- Christian Erk: What is a system? An introduction to the classic system concept. Lit, Zurich 2016, ISBN 978-3-643-80203-3 , pp. 5–82, here p. ??.
- Franz Poland : σύστημα . In: Georg Wissowa u. a. (Ed.): Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen antiquity . Second row, eighth half-band. Metzler, Stuttgart 1932, column 1834 f.
- F.-P. Hager: system; Systematics; systematic, I. Antiquity . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10, pp. 824 f.
- Philebos 17 d, cit. according to F.-P. Hager: system; Systematics; systematic, I. Antiquity . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10, pp. 824 f.
- Epinomis 991e, cit. according to F.-P. Hager: system; Systematics; systematic, I. Antiquity . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 10, pp. 824 f.
- Thomas Hobbes (2007 ): Leviathan , ebooks.adelaide.edu.au chap. XXII /
- Ludwig von Bertalanffy: An Outline of General Systems Theory . In: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 1/2, 1950, pp. 134-165, here: p. 143.
- HA - Living Systems , Spektrum.de 2000
- See e.g. B. again Anton Hügli, Poul Lübcke: Philosophielexikon. Rowohlt Verlag , Reinbek 1991, p. v. System : “The system plays a special role in structural linguistics […]. S [ystem] means here a totality of elements which are in an inner dependency relation to one another, namely in such a way that an individual element is not defined by itself, but only by the differences to other elements. "
- DIN IEC 60050-351: 2009-06, 351-21-20