Abstract for International Conference on System Approach Development

G.G.Kopylov, Chief Editor of ‘Centaur’ almanac (Moscow, Russia)

Network and Infrastructuric organizational forms as anti-system units: problem formulating

1. Ontologization of a System as a notion.

In its first usage, “system” - some correspondence, uniformity of thinking, some unified knowledge of some area (compare “system” - “epistem”). In 18 century it means “philosophical system”, wide and non-contradictory.

Only in 19 century “system” was understood ontologically meaning that some bonds, interrelations and processes place in the object - not in the thinking on it. Such an ontologization had all reasons because a process of realization (not “understanding”, but “reefication”) theoretical-philosophical notions and concepts of some system took place. So to say, they had full rights to ontologize being realized. (The realization process itself emerged inside New Sciences and was the main achievement of scientific method [1]). The mont prominent systems were the Newtonian and Cartesian. In their “frames” series of experiments were conducted, educational institutions and scientific subjects were created.

After the winning of Newtonian system the engineering world was formed - it was the realized system of maximum self-consistency and mutual substantiation (first of all through the mental reflection).

2. Secondary de-ontologization of system approach

According to this, system approach should have the expansion onto new areas by two parallel “streams”: 1) treate objecta as systems 2) the reflective “space” of expansion (researches, engeneery, experiments, ideology) should be organized as a system.

EG: the unity of views on human being (men of humanities discuss it so much) should be ensured not by creating a systems object, but by a complex of “including”, “plugging in” into different humanitarian practices and theories.

3. Beyond the systems

We found ourselves there for the first time materially (not in the realm of thought): in the beginning of XX century first infrastructures were formed (organized). It took place by the separation and then the organizational autonomization of functions (the different ones - first of all transportation, information, finances etc.)

The infrastructure as an organization can well be treated as a system (as a hard structure of bonds, relations, functions etc.). But as it includes in different systems (is used by them), the opening of system features takes place.: infrastructure does not determine the composition of units, which are growing on it.

The infrastructure characterizes by the following features:

- Field forming (“everywhereity” - the example of television and cellular telephones).

- Internal pressure (by this it is opposite to distribution structures) - this pressure is positive on output, negative on input.

- Superfluity (a condition for pressure).

- Stability and continuity of usage conditions (the demand of “transparency”.

- It creates material possibilities and conditions for functioning of arbitrary objects and for their development: an infrastructure creates the conditions, but not the determinations.

4. Philosophical-methodological challenge

The modern world (as a whole and in the scales of countries, cities, corporations) is saturated with infrastructures. So the possibility and adequacy of system analysis of these units seems more and more dubious. The compositions of emerging and vanishing objects, living in united field (informational, law, material etc.) - network structures, as we can call them - are not tne objects for system analysis. The bonds and relations exist, but they are temporary and spatially local and “non-essential”.

The analysis of such a local-network compositions demands non-system approcah. But what one?

In principle, these problems are discussed and understood by postmodern thinking - it states symbolic, constructive, manifold character of modern reality. But it did not elaborate any analytical schemes for these situations - it just problematized ontological positivism.

5. Poly-World situation

The situation became more critical for thinking as we take into account the existence in modern “human world” not only one engineering world (as a system of self-ensuring and self-realization), but several, having different “world orders” inside. By this the anti-system features of modern world enlarges tremendously.

But the need of real control and organizational actions demands to understand, to know and to analyze such objects in spite of their anti-system and many-world character. We have to manage city or state, and that means to include it by our knowledge into organizational, projective, programing etc. actions.

To say generally, worlds interrelate by things (material and ideal), really or reflectively changing their functions. These “exchange processes” are casual and can not be accounted beforehand. Consequently, one of powerful strategies of world expansions is a “strategy of infrastructurization”: when we manage to represent things of world as an infrastructuric product, indifferent to usage structures. (The latest example - Internet, represented as a universal communication mean, not a civilization expansion, or the “war of standarts” between IE and Netscape products).

It means important practical conclusion for managing in complex situations: minimal zone of accounting and managing is infrastructure now (which determines a competitive ability as well) - and all the rest can be not controlled. The universality of such a strategy depends on the lack of adequate thinking and operational schemes for work in more and more frequent anti-system and many-world situations.


1. G.Kopylov. Scientific knowledge and engineering worlds. Centaur, #1, 1996.

2. G.Kopylov. Chronicle of a wasted world. Centaur, #17 (1998)

3. G.Kopylov. Region as a network and regional programs. Centaur, # 9 (1995)