The historical meaning of present system thinking
(Fuenmayor Arocha, Ramsés Leonardo)

Two logically opposed interpretations of the meaning of current (soft and critical) systems thinking are drawn: thinking about the holistic power structure that constitutes the ground for the possibility of a situation and thinking how to accommodate conflicting parties into a given order. The epochal coexistence of these two apparently logically opposed modes of thinking are interpreted under an historical-ontological perspective. It is shown how the failure of the project of the Enlightenment has led to the constitution of a postmodern order dominated by instrumental thinking and absolute relativism, which sometimes disguises itself under the mask a few key notions of the project of the Enlightenment that rapidly become nothing but "plastic words" in-forming the mass-media publicity game.

A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the Fourth International Conference of the United Kingdom Systems Society (Hull, 1995) as a plenary paper.

This article was published in Systems Research, Vol 14 Nº 4, 1997; pp. 235-348.