Why the 21st century is the century of Systems Thinking

Keekok Lee
08 April 2019

This talk examines System Thinking by exploring the following themes:

1. System Thinking is embedded within a philosophical framework which is totally different from that of so-called “standard thinking” found in what may be called the Newtonian sciences, such as classical physics, DNA/ molecular biology, the monogenic conception of disease in Biomedicine, and so on.
2. Modern science beginning in the 17th century in Western Europe (which was/is Newtonian) suffered a rupture in its philosophical orientation at least thrice in the 20th century: quantum physics from the 1920s onwards, the establishment of ecology as well as the emergence of Epidemiology as proper scientific disciplines in the last century, the former at the end of WWII and the latter in the last quarter of the 20th century. The 21st century may well turn out to be the century of Systems Thinking, of the triumph of non-/not-Newtonian sciences.
3. The oldest form of Systems Thinking in world history may be found in The Yijing/I Ching as well as in Classical Chinese Medicine whose foundation rests on the insights of The Yijing/I Ching, the most well-known is the iconic Yinyang symbol. These basic insights include: Process-ontology, Wholism, non-linear/multi-factorial causality.
4. In my opinion, Systems Thinking could more tellingly be re-labelled “Ecosystem Thinking” as any phenomenon under study could best be portrayed as a nesting of ecosystems, the smaller within a larger. The benefit of this new presentation of data will be illustrated by one particular example from Classical Chinese Medicine.