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General Systems Theory--The Skeleton of Science

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  • Kenneth E. Boulding

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

In recent years increasing need has been felt for a body of systematic theoretical constructs which will discuss the general relationships of the empirical world. This is the quest of General Systems Theory. It does not seek, of course, to establish a single, self-contained "general theory of practically everything" which will replace all the special theories of particular disciplines. Such a theory would be almost without content, for we always pay for generality by sacrificing content, and all we can say about practically everything is almost nothing. Somewhere however between the specific that has no meaning and the general that has no content there must be, for each purpose and at each level of abstraction, an optimum degree of generality. It is the contention of the General Systems Theorists that this optimum degree of generality in theory is not always reached by the particular sciences.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth E. Boulding, 1956. "General Systems Theory--The Skeleton of Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(3), pages 197-208, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:2:y:1956:i:3:p:197-208
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2.3.197
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