Charles François is a Belgian citizen, born 1922 and retired from the Belgian Foreign Service since 1987. He was educated in Belgium and lived in Central Africa from 1945 to 1960, first as an administrative officer and later on as owner of his own business. His first contact with Cybernetics was in 1952 through Wiener’s foundational 1948 work on Cybernetics.
In 1958 he became a member of the former Society for General Systems Research (Now ISSS). Participant from 1970 on in numerous Meetings of various Systems and Cybernetics Societies, he is also a member of the board of some of them, and integrates the editorial board of various journals on Systems and Cybernetics. Author of numerous papers on systemic topics, he also published in French a book on “Cybernétique et Prospective” (International Association of Cybernetics, Namur, 1976) and an “Introducción a la Prospectiva” in Spanish (Pleamar, Buenos Aires, 1978). In 1985 he published in Spanish his study on “El uso de Modelos Sistémicos-Cibernéticos como metodología científica” (Systemic-Cybernetic Models used as scientific methodology) and in 1986 “Enfoques Sistémicos en el Estudio de las Sociedades” (Systemic Approaches to the Study of Societies).
In 1992, he published his “Diccionario de Teoría Generale de Sistemas y Cibernética” (GESI, Buenos Aires), the first work of its kind in Spanish (475 terms).
François lives in Argentina since 1963 and created the Argentine National Division of the ISSS in 1976, being presently its Honorary President.
Afterthoughts on beliefs and motives
For me, systemics has become a way of life, in a very wide sense Since my early youth, I witnessed an endless and conceptually scandalous succession of collective disasters: depressions, famines, massive economic and social exploitation and dereliction, wars and civil wars, creeping violence, ideologic intolerance, political terrorism and repressive dictatorships, mass addictions, ecological destruction, etc., etc., at the hands of assorted bunches of bullies, fanatics and incompetents.
Was all this really the best that Homo Sapiens could do with his so-much vaunted brain?
I observed how people ill-treat themselves biologically, physiologically, and psychologically: eating and drinking, smoking and sometimes working themselves to premature death, or sinking into uselessness or insanity.
We all lack a certain real understanding of ourselves and our societies from many different angles. Consequently, we have no real poser whatsoever upon the critical situations in which we become enmeshed. We float on the ocean of life events like a rudderless ship until, finally, we sink much too soon.
Slowly I discovered that the systemic insights which I slowly incorporated in my mind (and even in a relation with my own body) have helped me evermore to survive and adapt.
The systematic-cybernetic “Weltanschauung”is the specific-but global- embracing mental, conceptual and practical tool that we need to overcome the momentous challenges that we have managed to create for ourselves and for the whole of this “Spaceship Earth”
We are systems. We live in a world of systems. All of these systems are complex. We cannot manage them just as we fancy. We cannot avoid problems or downright disasters by ideological discourses, superficial and asinine tinkering, or short-term fixes.
We must use the new dimensions of our minds and create or learn the concepts and models adaptable to complexity. If we do not understand this, we are going to pay dearly. But if we do, a very bright future may still be in sotre for us.
Let me end this note with a profession of faith: I feel mentally and morally engaged toward any human being , present and future, to dedicate as much as possible of the rest of my life to further our understanding (mine and yours) of systems. I owe it to all the sufferers at large in this present and future world, to all those kind people and lucid minds who showed me this new road, to my firends, to my sons, granddaughters and grandsons, and as a need for my self- respect.
from: Systems Research, 15, p. 511-515, 1990
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