Ludwig von Bertalanffy

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Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (September 19, 1901 – June 12, 1972) was an Austrian-born biologist known as one of the founders of general systems theory (GST). GST is an interdisciplinary practice that describes systems with interacting components, applicable to biology, cybernetics, and other fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the classical laws of thermodynamics applied to closed systems, but not necessarily to "open systems", such as living things. His mathematical model of an organism's growth over time, published in 1934, is still in use today.


  • "Der Organismus als physikalisches System betrachtet", Die Naturwissenschaften 28, 1940, pp 521-531. (German)
    • "The Organism Considered as Physical System", ch. 5 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 120-138. (English)
  • "Zu einer allgemeinen Systemlehre"', Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 18:3/4, 1945; repr., Biologia Generalis 19, 1949, pp 114-129. (German)
    • "An Outline of General System Theory", British Journal of the Philosophy of Science 1, 1950, pp 139-164; cond. as "Some System Concepts in Elementary Mathematical Consideration", ch. 3 in Bertalanffy, 'General System Theory, 1968, pp 54-86. (English)
  • "General System Theory", Main Currents in Modern Thought 11:4, Mar 1955, pp 75-83; repr., General Systems 1, 1956, pp 1-10; repr. in Life, Language, Law: Essays in Honor of A. F. Bentley, ed. R. W. Taylor, Yellow Springs, OH: Antioch Press, 1957, pp. 58-78; repr. in Human Behavior and International Polities, ed. J. D. Singer, Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1965, pp 20-31; repr. in System, Change, and Conflict, eds. N. J. Demerath lil and R. A. Peterson , Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1967; upd. as "The Meaning of General Systems Theory", ch. 2 in Bertalanffy, 'General System Theory, 1968, pp 30-53. (English)
  • "An Essay on the Relativity of Categories", Philosophy of Science 22, 1955, pp 243-263; repr., General Systems 7, 1962, pp 71-83; repr. as "The Relativity of Categories", ch. 10 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 222-250. (English)
  • "Allgemeine Systemtheorie. Wege zu einer neuen Mathesis universalis", Deutsche Universitätszeitung 5/6, 1957, pp 8-12. (German)
    • "La Teoria generale dei sistemi", La Voce dell' America 18-G and 2-H, 1956-1957. (Italian)
    • "Histoire et méthodes de la théorie générale des systèmes", Atomes 21, 1966, pp 100-104. (French)
  • "General System Theory. A Critical Review", General Systems 7, 1962, pp 1-20; repr. in Modern Systems Research for the Behaviaral Scientist, ed. W. Buckley, Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1968, pp 11-30; repr. as "Advances in General System Theory", ch. 4 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 87-119. (English)
  • "Basic Concepts in Quantitative Biology of Metabolism", Helgoländer Wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 9 (First International Symposium on Quantitative Biology of Metabolism), 1964, pp 5-37; repr. as "Some Aspects of System Theory in Biology", ch. 7 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 155-185. (English)
  • "General System Theory and Psychiatry", ch. 43 in The American Handhook of Psychiatry, Vol. 3, ed. Silvano Arieti, New York: Basic Books, 1966; repr. as "General System Theory in Psychology and Psychiatry", ch. 9 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 205-221. (English)
  • "The Model of Open System", ch. 6 in Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968, pp 139-153. (English)
    • "Das Modell des offerren Systems", Nova Acta Leopoldina, 1969. (German)