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.



Any set of principles, procedures, practices and techniques concerned with some scientific discipline.

According to K. KRIPPENDORFF: "The aim of methodology… is to describe and analyze not the objects or the products but the processes of scientific inquiry, to investigate the potentialities and limitations of particular techniques, to reveal their presuppositions and epistemological consequences, to suggest structural reasons for successes and failures, and to develop, test and offer generalizations about scientific procedures" (1986, p.50).

Methodologies evolve in relation to dominant paradigms. For example, until about 100 years, methodologies based on strict linear determinism where taken for granted and dominant. Later on, statistical methodologies gained a hold. And more recently, methodologies adapted to the study of nonlinear complex systems are emerging.

In any case, even if every discipline has its own methodological requirements, there is a level of general scientific methodology (in constant evolution) whose features supersede more specific, but also methodological aspects.

W. ACAR gives two different definitions for methodology, the first one by C. SCHOLZ (1987, p.53): "(Methodology) deals on a meta-level with the nature and creation of concepts suitable for the development and implementation of methods."

Methods thus viewed would be the actual tools, say, for example mathematical analysis, or MILLER's cross-level hypothesis, or case studies in psychology.

Next, ACAR gives his own definition: "The overall world view, meaning and action system governing research activity is the field of inquiry" (1987, p.120).

This definition is closely related to the one ACAR gives of "paradigm". But such closeness is debatable, as shown by the opinion forwarded by J.van GIGCH: "We distinguish a paradigm from a methodology by indicating that a paradigm is usually "content" or "substance-free" in the sense that it applies to many problems in a domain regardless of their specific content, whereas a methodology is a problem oriented procedure or approach which incorporates a particular paradigm" (1993, p.44).

B. BANATHY gives a more restricted definition, fit for disciplinary practical uses: "… a.set of coherent, related, and internally consistent methods applicable to pursuing disciplined inquiry". He adds: "In the scientific inquiry of any discipline, methodology is clearly defined and it is to be adhered to rigorously regardless of the problem or area of investigation to which it is applied" (1988, p.27).

This compiler must confess that he remains unable to form a clearly definitive opinion about the precise limits between paradigm, methodology, methodologies and methods.


  • 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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