2.2 Systems and Emergence


Because system thinking is reasoning about a question, circumstance, or problem explicitly as a system, our starting point for system thinking should be a discussion of systems. Few words in the modern English language are as widely applied or defined as the word “system.” The definition that we use in this text is given in Box 2.1.

The definition has two important parts:

  1. A system is made up of entities that interact or are interrelated.

  2. When the entities interact, there appears a function that is greater than, or other than, the functions of the individual entities. ...

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