On Purposeful Systems: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Individual And Social Behavior As a System of Purposeful Events

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Transaction Publishers, Oct 30, 2005 - Psychology - 288 pages
This book provides an innovative foundation for looking at human and social behavior as a system of purposeful (teleological) events. It uses a systems theoretical approach for the study of these phenomena, and illustrates and extends general systems theory.

Part One develops the concepts of traditional mechanism from which, successively, the concepts of "function," "choice," "goal-seeking," and "purposefulness" are derived, leading to a quantitative formulation of "personality". Part Two provides an analysis of aspects of purposeful behavior and personality, and Part Three explores the interaction of purposeful systems. Part Four is concerned with the study of social groups and ideal-seeking behavior. Finally, structural concepts underpinning the theoretical system are redefined in technological terms, thus demonstrating the non-vicious circularity and interdependence of all scientific concepts.

"What makes this book magical' is that Ackoff provides operational definitions' for many ill-defined words and concepts--from defining knowledge' and understanding' to providing definitions of feelings/emotions.... In terms of Kuhn's idea of paradigm shifts'--this book represents a shift that has yet to be appreciated, thirty years later." --W. Curtiss Priest, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Russell L. Ackoff is chairman of the board of the Institute for Interactive Management. Since 1986 he has been the Anheuser-Busch Professor Emeritus of Management Science, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Anheuser-Busch Visiting Professor of Marketing, Olin School of Business, Washington University, St. Louis. He was former chairman of the Social Systems Science Department and the Busch Center, which specializes in systems planning, research, and design. Dr. Ackoff is the author and co-author of nineteen books.

Fred E. Emery was Senior Research Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra. Previously he was chairman of the Human Resources Centre at the Tavistock Institute, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto.

Brent D. Ruben is professor of communication and executive director, Center for Organizational Development and Leadership at Rutgers University.

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On Human Behavior as a System
Structure Function and Purpose
The Individuality of Psychological Systems
The Process of Pursuing Purposes
Generation of Inputs Perception Consciousness and Memory
Modeling the Situation Beliefs
Evaluating the Situation Feelings and Attitudes
Formulation and Evaluation of Choices Thought and Intuition
Models of Communication
Conflict Cooperation and Competition
Social Systems and Beyond
Social Groups as Systems
IdealSeeking Systems
Epilogue Rounding the Conceptual Circle
Appendix I
Appendix II

Purposeful Systems and their Environments
Interactions of Purposeful Systems
Feelings and Communication
Signs Messages and Language
Appendix III
Name Index
Subject Index

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Page 21 - Abstract system: a system all of whose elements are concepts., 2.16. Concrete system: a system at least two of whose elements are objects. Languages, philosophic systems, and number systems are examples of abstract systems. Numbers are concepts, but the symbols that represent them, numerals, are physical things. Numerals, however, are not elements of a number system. The use of different numerals to represent the same numbers does not change the nature of the system. 2.17. State of a system at a...

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