The phrase “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is well known and important to Systems Scientists and Systems Engineers alike. It’s like a short pithy definition of Emergence. And it is almost always automatically attributed to Aristotle. But what I want to know is this - Did he say it? Why did he say it? And in what context?
On June 21, 2017, I had the privilege of speaking to the INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter on the topic of Systems Science, Systems Engineering and Systems Thinking — using the catchy title, "Zen and the Art of Systems Thinking." Here I include the slides and references for those who want to explore my talk in more detail.
How is Systems Science an oxymoron? It may come from the fact that studying Systems requires a holistic perspective whereas the fundamental concept of Science is looking at things in a reductionist manner. So how do you reconcile these two fundamentally different approaches into one discipline? Maybe the key is looking and seeing “systems’ everywhere.
Where is the Science for Systems Engineering? Every engineering discipline has its science — Electrical Engineering has its Ohm's law — Mechanical Engineering has all of Newtonian Physics — Civil Engineering has Material Science — Chemical Engineering has its periodic table of elements — and so on and so forth. But what about Systems Engineering? Where is our science?