The Foundation Trilogy – by Gene Bellinger – SystemsWiki’s Musings

Interesting synchronicity – the ISSS ( is engaged in an email discussion about ‘holism’ and ‘a general theory of systems’, in searching for something I just came across a grumbly Facebook Messenger discussion about ‘universalism’, and here’s Gene Bellinger (with an intriguing titbit about von Bertalanffy’s title?) on a similar thing… must be something in the air!

The Foundation Trilogy

The Foundation Trilogy – by Gene Bellinger – SystemsWiki’s Musings

The Foundation Trilogy

Didn’t Isaac Asimov write that?

Gene Bellinger17 min ago

My first introduction to “Archetypes” was via Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.” I may be a bit slow as I read Senge’s book once a year from 1990 through 1994, and I finally thought I understood it. While I thought I understood the essential nature of the necessity of integrating the five disciplines Archetypes really fascinated me. Their recurring nature was captivating from the extent of their apparent meaningfulness.

Then I recalled reading, in “Uncommon Sense: The Life and Thought of Ludwig von Bertalanffy,” by Mark Davidson, that in the 1930s Bertalanffy proposed that there were fundamental underlying structures that operated across all branches of science. When I first read this I considered it was a ludicrous proposal. Yet, after pondering it for some time, I realized that the branches of science are a fabrication of man, not nature. As such, why shouldn’t there be one set of structures that operated across all branches of science?

As I understand it, based on this proposal Bertalanffy conceived of an approach to teaching about these structures in something termed “General Systems Teaching.” The difficulty was that Bertalanffy’s paper was written in German and the translator made a mistake translating the title to, “General Systems Theory.” And as such there came to be a field of study that was never quite meant to be, which I thought quite curious.

Both the Senge and Bertalanffy perspectives sort of faded into the background as I pursued other interests in the realm of what I used to refer to as “systems.” Then after reading Michael C. Jackson’s “Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers,” and realizing I simply wasn’t smart enough to understand dozens of models and methods to any level real utility, there was a real Aha! moment.

The Aha! moment was the realization that all the models and methods are just about relationships and their implications. With that realization, the next thoughts were of Senge and Bertalanffy, and what might be the basis for understanding everything else? Please watch the following video to get a sense of where I landed.

Continues, with video, on Gene’s substack: