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A scientific effort to identify structural, BEHAVIORal and developmental features common to particular classes of living organisms. One "approach is to look over the empirical universe and pick out certain general phenomena which are found in many different disciplines, and to seek to build up general theoretical MODELs relevant to these phenomena," e.g., growth, homeostasis, evolution. The other "approach is to arrange the empirical fields in a hierarchy of complexity of organization of their basic 'individual' or unit of behavior, and to try to develop a level of abstraction appropriate to each" (Boulding). Examples are the generalizations on the levels of cells, simple organs, open self-maintaining organisms, small groups of organisms, society and the universe. The latter approach implies a hierarchical "systems of systems" view of the world quite alien to that of cybernetics. Because of its roots in biology whose forms tend to have long evolutionary histories and are somewhat more stable organizationally, structurally integrated, and centrally controlled by dna, among many other properties, general systems theory like the structural-functional school of sociology, has been recognized as favoring to favor the status quo when applied to social phenomena which are largely the product of structural changes, technical innovations and information growth (see morphostasis, morphogenesis). (Krippendorff)
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