The Stafford Beer Connections
Links


viable syntegration

Last updated 2nd March 2004

Denis Adams, Harry Beer, Stefan Wasilevski.


Iteration One

Rather than a collection of Stafford Beer’s works, we thought it more valuable for the understanding of his legacy to establish connections. The connections that interest us are:

  1. His connection to forebears (McCullough, Ashby, etc.)
  2. Contemporaries (including both sympathizers and detractors, and those with alternative world views)

What we want is clarity on what are the real and apparent differences that Stafford had with his contemporaries and those who have applied his models, so that we can move forward as a community of common understanding in systems and cybernetics.

Is there mutual enrichment to be gained by understanding the dialogue between Stafford’s work and other systems thinkers?

In our next session we will investigate the connection to a) and b).

Iteration Two

Connections rather than collections

Rather than gathering a collection of Stafford Beers works, we thought it more valuable for the understanding of his legacy to establish connections. The connections that interest us are.

  1. Connections to forebears (Ashby, Weiner, McCullough).
  2. Connections to contemporaries (Sympathisers and detractors in systems and cybernetics and related disciplines).
  3. Connections to emergent ideas and theories (ideas that strengthen / inform the work as well as potentially challenging ideas such as Complexity theory).
  4. Connections to other areas of application, such as risk management.
  5. Connections to other approaches contributing to human well-being.

Many of these points can be clarified if we consider whether we are using Staffords work in either or all of the following three ways:

  • functionalist way (i.e. prediction and control),
  • hermeneutic way (i.e. creating a shared interpretative framework for understanding and developing a common language) or
  • emancipatory way (i.e. doing away with domination, alienation and abuse of power).
What would you add?


Outcome Resolve

Connections rather than collections.

Rather than gathering a collection of Stafford Beers works, we thought it more valuable for the understanding of his legacy to establish connections.

We considered the ‘collections’ that all other groups appeared to be gathering, and offer the following navigational tool.

connections tool