Alexander Bogdanov, founder of Tektology

Tektology (sometimes transliterated as "tectology") is a term used by Alexander Bogdanov to describe a discipline that consisted of unifying all social, biological and physical sciences by considering them as systems of relationships and by seeking the organizational principles that underlie all systems. Tectology is now regarded as a precursor of systems theory and related aspects of synergetics.[1] The word "tectology" was developed by Ernst Haeckel,[2] but Bogdanov used it for a different purpose.[3][4]


His work Tektology: Universal Organization Science, published in Russia between 1912 and 1917, anticipated many of the ideas that were popularized later by Norbert Wiener in Cybernetics and Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the General Systems Theory. There are suggestions that both Wiener and von Bertalanffy might have read the German edition of Tektology which was published in 1928.[5]

In Sources and Precursors of Bogdanov's Tectology, James White (1998) acknowledged the intellectual debt of Bogdanov's work on tectology to the ideas of Ludwig Noiré. His work drew on the ideas of Noiré who in the 1870s also attempted to construct a monistic system using the principle of conservation of energy as one of its structural elements.

Tectology: Topics

According to Bogdanov [6] "the aim of Tectology is the systematization of organized experience", through the identification of universal organizational principles: "all things are organizational, all complexes could only be understood through their organizational character. This is (historically) the first identification of philosophical "complexes" in the natural sciences to denote a combination of elements of `activity - resistance'. Bogdanov considered that any complex should correspond to its environment and adapt to it. A stable and organized complex is greater than the sum of its parts. In Tectology, the term 'stability' refers not to a dynamic stability, but to the possibility of preserving the complex in the given environment. A 'complex' is not identical to a 'complicated, a hard-to-comprehend, large unit.

In Tectology, Bogdanov made the first 'modern' attempt to formulate the most general laws of organization. Tectology addressed issues such as holistic, emergent phenomena and systemic development. Tectology as a constructive science built elements into a functional entity using general laws of organization.

According to his "empirio-monistic" principle (1899), he does not recognize differences between observation and perception and thus creates the beginning of a general empirical, trans-disciplinary science of physical organization, as an expedient unity and precursor of Systems Theory and Holism.

The "whole" in Tectology, and the laws of its integrity, were derived from biological rather than the physicalistic view of the world. Regarding the three scientific cycles which comprise the basis of Tectology (mathematical, physico-biological, and natural-philosophical), it is from the physico-biological cycle that the central concepts have been taken and universalized.

The starting point in Bogdanov's Universal Science of Organization - Tectology (1913-1922) was that nature has a general, organized character, with one set of laws of organization for all objects. This set of laws also organizes the internal development of the complex units, as implied by Simona Poustilnik's "macro-paradigm", which induces synergistic consequences into an adaptive assembling phenomenon (1995). Bogdanov's visionary view of nature was one of an 'organization' with interconnected systems. Bogdanov's Tectology outlined the concepts and concerns of Complexity Theory a full 50 years in advance of chaos and fractal mathematics.


Alexander Bogdanov wrote several works about Tectology:

  • 1901, Poznanie s Istoricheskoi Tochki Zreniya (Knowledge from a Historical Viewpoint), St. Petersburg, 1901.
  • 1904, Empiriomonizm: Stat'i po Filosofii (Empiriomonism: Articles on Philosophy) in 3 volumes, Moscow, 1904-1906
  • 1912, Filosofiya Zhivogo Opyta: Populiarnye Ocherki (Philosophy of Living Experience: Popular Essays), St. Petersburg, 1912
  • 1922 Tektologiya: Vseobschaya Organizatsionnaya Nauka in 3 volumes, Berlin and Petrograd-Moscow, 1922.
  • 1980, English translation as Essays in Tektology: The General Science of Organization, trans. George Gorelik, Seaside, CA, Intersystems Publications, 1980.[7]

Further reading

  • John Biggart, Georgii Gloveli, Avraham Yassour. Bogdanov and his Work. A guide to the published and unpublished works of Alexander A. Bogdanov (Malinovsky) 1873-1928, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1998, ISBN 1-85972-623-2
  • John Biggart, Peter Dudley, Francis King, Aldershot, Ashgate (eds.), Alexander Bogdanov and the Origins of Systems Thinking in Russia, 1998, ISBN 1-85972-678-X
  • Stuart Brown. Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers, London, Routledge, 2002 (first published in 1996), ISBN 0-415-06043-5
  • Peter Dudley, Bogdanov's Tektology (1st Engl transl), Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, Hull, UK, 1996
  • Peter Dudley, Simona Pustylnik. Reading The Tektology: provisional findings, postulates and research directions, Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, Hull, UK, 1995
  • George Gorelik, Bogdanov's Tektology: Naure, Development and Influences, in: Studies in Soviet Thought (1983), Vol. 26, pp. 37-57.
  • Simona Pustylnik, "Biological Ideas of Bogdanov's Tektology" presented at the Int'l Conf.: Origins of Organization Theory in Russia and the Soviet Union, University of East Anglia (Norwich), Jan. 8-11, 1995


  1. ^ http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/apr07/page10.html
  2. ^ Originally the term denoted "a branch of morphology that regards an organism as made up of other organisms" (from Greek ??????, tekt?n "builder").
  3. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/744/000091471/
  4. ^ Ernst Haeckel, The Wonders of Life: A Popular Study of Biological Philosophy
  5. ^ Gorelik, 1975; Mattessich, 1978.
  6. ^ This is an extended quote from (Mikes, 1997).
  7. ^ The first English translation of Bogdanov Tektology is due to Peter Dudley and his work at the Centre for Systems Studies of University of Hull in UK.

External links

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