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.


CHREOD (Archetypal) 1)2)4)

An hypothetical organizing pattern that insures the conservation of the basic characters already acquired through evolution.

Ch. SMITH resumes this concept, also due to C. WADDINGTON (1975) as follows: "WADDINGTON… proposes that a similar deep structure, one that remains intact even during a complete mutation, must be present in living organisms to insure that evolution rather than devolution, comes about during mutation processes. He argues that mutations frequently involve a breaking down of an order that organisms have been building up through adaptive processes. Given that this breaking-down of order does occur during mutation, and most species go through mutations (especially in the development of their life supporting sub systems), WADDINGTON argues that the present states of development and order found in living systems would be highly improbable without some other factor coming into play. He argues that some mechanism must be present to insure that mutation does not reverse evolution, destroying the degree of sophistication that the system has previously attained. He call this organizing pattern an archetypal chreod (WADDINGTON, 1975, p.200), seeing it as similar to a function or a blueprint. The archetypal chreod provides the mutating organism with a line of development consonant with its state of accumulated, evolutionary learning" (1986, p.208).

This concept seems to be valid for pre-biotic systems, as well as for social and even abstract systems. C. BRESCH studies this same mechanism in his book about general evolution (from pre-biotic to human) and states that a general catalytic effect is at work at least from the atomic level on: "Structures influence directly the shaping of new structures. This potential influence, that amplificates constantly, will lead us all along in this study". (1977, as retranslated from the spanish traslation).

The concept is also clearly related to the stigmergy one and there are probably archetypal chreods at work when new societies are born as well as new languages or even new mathematical concepts.


  • 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).

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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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