The Nature of Change: A Systems Theory Approach to Causality

Linda Irene GLASSOP


Causality is pivotal to understanding the nature of change. The literature on causality, however, appears to ignore the idea that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. When real things are viewed as multi dimensional (attributes and parts that constitute a whole), interaction, I claim, must also be viewed as multi-dimensional. In this paper, I propose that change occurs in certain ways according to the structure-organization-process (S O P) model that I describe. Some of the ideas mooted herein are, on their own, not controversial, however, when taken as a sum, a novel approach emerges. The structure-organization-process (S O P) model provides a way for understanding:
• structural change as individual effects to attributes (S);
• organizational change as categorical effects to parts (O); and
• processual change as universal effects to wholes (P).
The S O P model heralds a new way of looking at the cause-effect relation by providing a means for predicting the diversity of effects that ensue from an interaction event. The S O P model is offered as a general organizing principle as it can be applied to closed, open and social systems.


causality; change; systems theory, general organizing principle

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