International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.



The appearance of a new system by association of formerly unconnected elements. (C. FRANÇOIS, 1989, p.72)

"In some sense, autogenesis appears as a absolute beginning. "Before" there was "nothing" (i.e. only scattered, unconnected elements); "after", we suddenly have a new system, inmediately morphogenetic and autopoietic. The event is, partly, a random one. This is interestingly paralleled in John H. CONWAY's game of life, where it is the player who defines an algorithm for general genesis conditions whose potential content he ignores. He does not know in which way the system will develop, or if and when it could become blocked or destroyed. However, the original random decision remains inserted within the most general conditions of the game: elements, rules, a field , limited or unlimited".

"In this sense, however, autogenesis appears as a relative beginning" (Ibid).

"Before", there were significant antecedents: elements and an environmental situation. "After", we have some new entity born with and within these antecedents. What is new is the combination. However, it takes place within an archetypical algorithm, which represents a kind of autopoiesis at a higher level in space-time.

Some examples will make this clearer:

- The autogenesis of a complex and original living being5:

Can result only from the sexual pairing of two previous systems of the same kind. What is autogenetic is the fusion of two half genomes, and more precisely of these two half genomes, while trillions of other combinations were possible, This is quite akin to an irreversible decision, but in this case its significance, if any, remains undecipherable for us.

The autopoietic aspect is that each of these half genomes must be of the same species, in order to be able to construct a new viable autopoietic system, This means that, even considering that the new system is an original and unique creation, it remains within the limits of a more general algorithmic and combinatory model: in this case, the species. Future genetic manipulations could possibly modify this general frame.

- Neural autogenesis5

According to V. CSANYI:"… in the course of ontogenesis, the human brain goes through phases of neural autogenesis, the phases of non-identical replication and identical replication and the phenomena of each phase (functional differentiation, rise of hypercycles, compartmentalization, convergence) can also be observed, The human brain, which consequently represents a zero-system capable of neural evolution, develops in the course of embryogenesis" (CSANYI, 1989, p.80)

- The autogenesis of a society4:

The autogenesis of a society, as an emergence into a higher level of complexity, offers the same characteristics, but more general. A cultural example will be used, but others, biological, political or economical could be given.

A human society in its phase of autogenesis entails the progressive co-assimilation of various heterogeneous groups, bearing different cultural inheritances and coming for the first time in contact in some defined area (by invasion, inmigration, colonization, etc,), In this case, the fusion event seems, at our timescale, a slow and hazardous process, However, at the historic time-scale, it is really be a very short one.

What is leading to autopoiesis here is the common pre-existence of a variety of cultural traits, While different, they are all somehow related to the unavoidable constraints of societal organization in general, as any society needs in order to survive some specific environmental conditions, as well as basic values and norms, transmitable from one generation to the next, (FRANCOIS, 1989, p.72-73)

Autopoiesis; Epigenesis; Equipotentiality


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

To cite this page, please use the following information:

Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]

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