Psychological configurations and literary characters : a systems view

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Sadowski, Piotr
Issue Date
De Gruyter
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The object of the present paper is to apply concepts and models of systems theory (Mazur, 1966, 1976) to generate statements and definitions relevant to the human psyche in general and to the characters described in literary texts in a more particular sense. Systems models and methods have emerged in mid-twentieth-century as a reaction to the fragmentation and overspecialisation of positivistic science, and their basic assumption was to view empirical reality as an integrated whole consisting of interacting systems (von Bertalanffy, 1973; Laszlo, 1972; Schmidt, 1982; Sadowski, 1999). In particular, the relevant premises of systems approach are the following: 1. The world exists and is intelligibly ordered, that is, open to rational inquiry; 2. The world consists of systems organised in wholes and hierarchies extending from the molecular to astronomical levels. A system in turn can be defined as any set of interrelated elements; 3. Systems interact with one another by exchanging information and energy. Information has to do with the nature of relations binding the elements of the system together, that is, with the system's structure. The nature of interactions between systems can be described by means of physical laws and rules of logic; 4. Some systems have the ability to interact with the environment without altering their intern al structures beyond a certain margin of tolerance, and to maintain or restore their functional equilibrium with regard to information and energy. Such systems will be called after Marian Mazur (1976: 134-140) self-regulating or autonomous, Examples of autonomous systems in the empirical world are plants, animals, and humans, that is, all living organisms.