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Living systems


Living systems are open self-organizing living things that interact with their environment. These systems are maintained by flows of information, energy and matter.

Some scientists have proposed in the last few decades that a general living systems theory is required to explain the nature of life. Such a general theory, arising out of the ecological and biological sciences, attempts to map general principles for how all living systems work. Instead of examining phenomena by attempting to break things down into components, a general living systems theory explores phenomena in terms of dynamic patterns of the relationships of organisms with their environment.

Living systems theory is a general theory about the existence of all living systems, their structure, interaction, behavior and development. This work is created by James Grier Miller, which was intended to formalize the concept of life. According to Miller's original conception as spelled out in his magnum opus Living Systems, a "living system" must contain each of twenty "critical subsystems", which are defined by their functions and visible in numerous systems, from simple cells to organisms, countries, and societies. In Living Systems Miller provides a detailed look at a number of systems in order of increasing size, and identifies his subsystems in each. Miller considers living systems as a subset of all systems. Below the level of living systems, he defines space and time, matter and energy, information and entropy, levels of organization, and physical and conceptual factors, and above living systems ecological, planetary and solar systems, galaxies, etc.



  • ingestor, distributor, converter, producer, storage, extruder, motor, supporter
  • input transducer, internal transducer, channel and net, timer (added later), decoder, associator, memory, decider, encoder, output transducer.
  • The specification of the twenty critical subsystems in any living system.
  • The specification of the eight hierarchical levels of living systems.
  • The emphasis on cross-level analysis and the production of numerous cross-level hypotheses.
  • Cross-subsystem research (e.g., formulation and testing of hypotheses in two or more subsystems at a time).
  • Cross-level, cross-subsystem research.
  • Kenneth D. Bailey, (1994). Sociology and the new systems theory: Toward a theoretical synthesis. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Kenneth D. Bailey (2006). Living systems theory and social entropy theory. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 22, 291–300.
  • James Grier Miller, (1978). Living systems. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Miller, J.L., & Miller, J.G. (1992). Greater than the sum of its parts: Subsystems which process both matter-energy and information. Behavioral Science, 37, 1–38.
  • Humberto Maturana (1978), "Biology of language: The epistemology of reality," in Miller, George A., and Elizabeth Lenneberg (eds.), Psychology and Biology of Language and Thought: Essays in Honor of Eric Lenneberg. Academic Press: 27-63.
  • Jouko Seppänen, (1998). Systems ideology in human and social sciences. In G. Altmann & W.A. Koch (Eds.), Systems: New paradigms for the human sciences (pp. 180–302). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • James R. Simms (1999). Principles of Quantitative Living Systems Science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
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Wikipedia

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