Quote from Wikipedia:
General systems research and systems inquiry
Many early systems theorists aimed at finding a general systems theory that could explain all systems in all fields of science. The term goes back to Bertalanffy’s book titled “General System theory: Foundations, Development, Applications” from 1968. According to Von Bertalanffy, he developed the “allgemeine Systemlehre” (general systems teachings) first via lectures beginning in 1937 and then via publications beginning in 1946.
Von Bertalanffy’s objective was to bring together under one heading the organismic science that he had observed in his work as a biologist. His desire was to use the word system for those principles that are common to systems in general. In GST, he writes:
…there exist models, principles, and laws that apply to generalized systems or their subclasses, irrespective of their particular kind, the nature of their component elements, and the relationships or “forces” between them. It seems legitimate to ask for a theory, not of systems of a more or less special kind, but of universal principles applying to systems in general.
Ervin Laszlo in the preface of von Bertalanffy’s book Perspectives on General System Theory:
Thus when von Bertalanffy spoke of Allgemeine Systemtheorie it was consistent with his view that he was proposing a new perspective, a new way of doing science. It was not directly consistent with an interpretation often put on “general system theory”, to wit, that it is a (scientific) “theory of general systems.” To criticize it as such is to shoot at straw men. Von Bertalanffy opened up something much broader and of much greater significance than a single theory (which, as we now know, can always be falsified and has usually an ephemeral existence): he created a new paradigm for the development of theories.
Ludwig von Bertalanffy outlines systems inquiry into three major domains: Philosophy, Science, and Technology. In his work with the Primer Group, Béla H. Bánáthy generalized the domains into four integratable domains of systemic inquiry:
||the ontology, epistemology, and axiology of systems;
||a set of interrelated concepts and principles applying to all systems
||the set of models, strategies, methods, and tools that instrumentalize systems theory and philosophy
||the application and interaction of the domains
These operate in a recursive relationship, he explained. Integrating Philosophy and Theory as Knowledge, and Method and Application as action, Systems Inquiry then is knowledgeable action.