Viable Systems – A Reading List

   Posted by: dhcsoul   in Books (Cybernetics), cybernetics

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series A Learning Machine
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In “The Heart of Enterprise,” one of the classics in the field of management cybernetics, Stafford Beer includes a select bibiography for the Viable System while explaining that a supportive reading list, in a form for which a consensus of cyberneticans could be found, just wasn’t possible.  With this said he went on to construct what looks like a map, but is truly meant as model of a reading list (although as he freely admits, the map remains more artistic in nature than conforming to a scientific statement).

Beer suggests using his map as the makings of a learning machine.  With the centre of a  circle being the “viable system,” with pizza like sectioning, Beer drops his selections in one of  “eight wedges”  according to the nature of each books teachings and at a distance from the centre according to its relative closeness to describing the “viable system”

The eight categories (wedges) that Beer uses in the map are as follows:

  • Philosophical
  • Biological
  • Psychological
  • Socio-Economic
  • Aesthetic
  • Mathematical
  • System-Theoretic
  • Physical

In the initial posts in this series, I will post books and their brief descriptions for books that I have read.  As time goes on I will add to each existing post other books that are in Beer’s list – in order to fill in some details of the map – even if I do not have personal knowledge of their contents. Then I will begin to modify his map to match the progress of my own learning.

For eventually, I hope to take up Beer on his challenge to readers to “add some dots,” “ignore some others,” or even move some around – all in the interest of using the map as a working model – one that is not just a static artifact but rather one that lives the promise of being a true “learning machine.”

[“Bookstore” containing readings featured in this series]

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Tags: cybernetics, model, Stafford Beer, systems thinking, VSM

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