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Living, Becoming, Process Philosophy: Systems Thinking in Time (ST-ON 2022-01-10)

System thinking, coming from roots in mainstream Western philosophy, tends to orient towards (i) thinking in space,  before (ii) thinking in time.  Structure is an arrangement in space.  Process is an arrangement in time.  A critical systems perspective leads us to think about inclusion within boundaries.  Does this lead us to overlook boundaries in time?

Living systems are a subtype of systems in general.  The capability for autonomous movement might lead us towards a philosophy of “becoming with” as “becoming alongside”.  This can lead us towards a challenging shift towards process philosophy.

Participants in Systems Thinking Ontario session were invited to discuss, and potentially reframe their view of systems.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 10
[20220110_ST-ON LivingBecomingProcessPhilosophy_FHD.m4v]
(FHD 954kbps 718MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

January 10
[20220110_ST-ON LivingBecomingProcessPhilosophy.mp3]

A short presentation provided some shared context for discussion.


  • A. Some Systems Thinking Basics
  • B. Hawk (1999):  Change of state vs. State of change
  • C. Ingold (2000): Temporality of the Landscape
  • D. Nayak & Chia (2011):  Process Philosophy
  • E. Discussion

Some who attended the session have read Process and Reality, by Alfred North Whitehead.  I haven’t. (It’s difficult!)  I’m leaning more on readings theorizing living systems.

Here is the content from the original announcement.

Structure is an arrangement in space. Process is an arrangement in time. Beyond being, living systems can be seen as becoming.

Are we overlooking time, when we talk about systems thinking? What happens if we base our thinking on a process philosophy?

This session may lead participants to reframe their perceptions of systems.

Suggested pre-reading

Living, Becoming, Process Philosophy:  Systems Thinking in Time

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