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Fundamentality/transdisciplinarity of systems thinking

Only after it was possible to at least identify the system-of-interest and its environment (the first step in systems thinking is always outward from the boundary of the system-of-interest!), can one proceed to look inside the "black box" and see what subsystems are there (only the second step can go inside the boundaries of the system-of-interest!).

And here we encounter the transdisciplinarity of the system approach for the second time: in projects related to the system, there are many different project roles, and each of them, driven by their role interests/preferences and inventively implementing them, will offer their own version of system description, advantageous for the implementation of the preferences of that role at the expense of the preferences of other roles. Including roles will propose their vision of dividing the system realization into parts. The system remains the same, but the division into parts by different roles varies.

Someone is interested in the functions of the parts during operation and will say that a tea kettle consists of a reservoir, a casting spout, a filling hole in the reservoir, a handle on the reservoir, a lid and a handle on the lid, and also a steam outlet hole in the lid (otherwise, when closing the wet lid, the water will splash out of the spout), and all of this is "for what". Another person says that the tea kettle consists of just two parts in the kettle design that need to be manufactured because their concerns/important characteristics lie in the time of making the kettle, the focus here is on the construction, "what to make it from". The third says that the lid and the kettle should be stored together, it would be better if the lid is right on the kettle, the focus is on allocations, "where in the Universe the parts of the kettle are located". The fourth says that the main thing in the kettle is its cost, so it would be better if it was not made of gold and not of a too complex shape, to make it cheaper.

The fundamental/transdisciplinary aspect here is that the system approach agrees in advance with the multiplicity of system descriptions at each system level and is ready to work with these descriptions, coming from different applied/specific/subject methods (Materials Science, Tea Culture, Pottery Production, etc.):

  • Systems thinking takes into account different types of descriptions made at each system level because due to emergence, it is necessary to describe new properties at each new system level. We have already mentioned that the description of the work of cells in a dancer's muscles is completely different from the description of his dance, the description of the operation of a battery pack in an electric vehicle is completely different from the description of the movement of this electric vehicle from Moscow to Vladivostok. Systems thinking, as the use of fundamental/subject-independent/transdisciplinary concepts of the system approach, takes into account all these applied descriptions; it is common for reasoning about them, and it is transdisciplinary with respect to the descriptions of individual applied methods. It is always used, regardless of the applied subject area.
  • Systems thinking takes into account different types of descriptions made at one system level because different project roles have different interests in systems at this level, and to satisfy them, it is necessary to build some applied models of these systems assisting them in predicting the behavior of the system of interest. Some project roles want to know how exactly the system works internally to perform their role/function in the supra system, while other project roles want to know what the system is made of/constructed from, others are interested in where all these parts of the system are located in the Universe, and others are interested in financial issues related to the system, and others are interested in working with the system, and so on — on all the concerns of all roles.

System descriptions follow various methods of working with their sets of concepts, allowing to describe objects of various subjects/areas/areas of interest, and systems thinking as a thinking method with its set of concepts is "on the other side" (trans-) of this set of descriptions; systems thinking does not disappear when discussing issues of other disciplines, it permeates all project discussions. Systems thinking belongs to the transdisciplinary thinking methods in the intellect stack, it is not "turned off" when practical reasoning is taking place — it helps to keep focus on important objects when discussing practical issues of various kinds in the project. Descriptions of systems thinking coexist with applied descriptions of various other disciplines used in the project.