"Benking" entries in the

International Encyclopedia


Systems and Cybernetics:


0479      COGNITIVE PANORAMA 1) - 2) 1

0484      COGNITIVE SPACES 1) 1

0999      ECO-CUBE/KNOW MAP 1) - 2) - 3) 2

2001      MAP (Mental) 2) - 3) 2

2002      MAP TERRITORY RELATION 2) - 3) 3

2003      MAPPING 2) 3

2104      METAPHORIC FRAMEWORK 1) - 2) - 4) 3

2105      METAPHORS (Classes of) 2) 3

2228      MULTI-PERSPECTIVISM 1) - 2) - 4) 4


2463      PANORAMA THINKING 1) - 2) 4


1)  general information    2)  methodology or model   3)  epistemology, ontology and semantics   4) human sciences  5) discipline oriented

This  link leads to the model or cube which is the basic spacial element and and part of the superstructure and is relevant to understanding the above links or entries in the Encyclopedia. The link in the print version can be found under 0484 COGNITIVE SPACES.


0479    COGNITIVE PANORAMA 1) - 2)

 A conceptual superstructure that defines and identifies topics as logical places, displays relations and connections within these topics or issues"

  This concept has been introduced by H. BENKING.  The following comments are BENKING's explanations, plucked from a series of papers and lectures (see bibliography)

  " The cognitive panorama is a metaparadigm to counteract cyberculture's anticipated impact due to its: 1)open-ended universality, 2) loss of meaning' 3) loss of context"

  It is now obvious that we risk drowning in an ocean of incoherent data which could lead us to total conceptual anarchy.

  According to Benking, the proposed cognitive panorama "allows us to embody and map concepts in their context and develop common frames of reference"

  Such a conceptual superstructure " helps us to locate and become aware of: 1) what we know or miss, 2) where we are and what we think, 3) where we miss, underuse or manipulate information.  By avoiding a "flat" chaotic mess of data which leads to the known "lost-in space" syndrome, we actually define cognitive spaces.

  Through reflection on conceptual positions, outlining and embodying situations or topics (logical places or containers) we can follow meaning into embodied context and semantic spaces, and also scrutinize abstract "realities" by exploring participatory and collaboratory approaches.

®Conceptual navigation; Convertilibilty of meanings; Ecocube; Harmonization; Knowledge map; Underconceptualization




 Each individual has his/her proper cognitive space, i.e. a perceptive capacity.

  The dimensions of this cognitive space depend on information, training and finally on a person's awareness.  All this depends globally from the cultural setting.

  While in general terms this is clearly described by D. MEADOWS et al. graph of human perspectives (1972, p. 19), the two-dimensional graph can be expanded in the third dimension, as showed by H BENKING, in order to take many different aspects of the general environment.  While one can be specially interested in some economic (or ecological, or cultural, or...) issue, a more general and global, but at the same time more complex view can only be acquired by collaborating and conversational groups.

  In this sense Benking distinguishes subjective views and objective ones.  The subjective views, are related to the different aspects of perceived environment that can be considered at the same moment by different observers or at different moments by the same observer.  The objective view tries to describe the environment at micro-, meso- and macroscale, in the short, medium or long-term time scale (see graph:  http//benking.de/cube/)

THIS FRAME was later included by me, Benking, to help to access the Blackbox

and Panorama and see it in perspective/context. Unfortunately we and the

Publisher were too busy to include the figures already in the 2nd edition.

THE INTENTION is not only to show models vs systems as an embodiment which

allows multi-perspective communication and avoiding the traps of being

caught in one representation or sign system.

For more appealing visualizations of mental architectures see

http://benking.de/cube/ and a recent overview on mental models and orienting generalisations: http://benking.de/ewoc/ or more "historically" or terse:

spatial versus spatial http://benking.de/Global-Change/spatial-spacial.html

or Show versus Schau http://benking.de/show-schau.htm, to underline

dichotomies and how we indent tackle such thinking in: deep versus flat,

3-dimensional versus 2-dimensional representations and designs.

Please see for further reference also http://benking.de/systems/


®Cognitive panorama; Eco-cube; Metaphors (classes of); Venn diagram 


Figure: See entry COGNITIVE SPACES



A general diagram of mankinds’s place in the global ecosystem using a VENN diagram subdivided as proposed by E. EDWARDS (1989)





A:   Atmosphere,   G: Geosphere   H: Hydrosphere   E: Energy


The intersections represent specific fields of inquiry. EH is for example hydrodynamics. Any subset can be subdivided according to more particular necessity (A…A1, A2… An)

Mankind and smaller human groups interact with any environmental subset. EHAG represents the most global dynamic and integrated ecosystem. Different and much more complex representations are possible as for example DOXIADIS’ ekistics or BENKING’s eco-cube.



0999    ECO-CUBE/KNOW MAP 1) - 2) - 3)

 The Eco-cube is a three dimensional knowledge representation proposed by H. BENKING.

It was practically realized for the first time in June 1990 at the Exhibition “Global change-

Welt im Wandel” that took place at the Bundeskanzler Amt in Bonn, Germany.

It is a kind of upgraded “Rubik's cube of Ecology”.

Alike the Rubik cube, the Eco-cube is made of smaller also cubic elements.

The third dimension is needed “in order to be able to dive into information, instead of surfing on the surface, subject to many influences which can distract us”.

Benking adds : “We will have to share exploration in order to share common ground. We have to bridge and switch between models and scales, as one representation is not enough, and seeing from various distances, with different focus, lens and filters will help to establish common references even in uncharted terrains and vertical realms”.

The basic point is “to put different observations into a single context”.

Benking also refers himself to DOXIADIS's ekistics. For a complete written and graphic information see: http://benking.de/Global-Change/spatial-spacial.html

Benking writes: “We can build models like  1x1x1 meter or 20x20x20 meters, where objects  in fields of (survey) knowledge, subject areas or discipline domains form one dimension, and in another dimension we have scales to see if this field is located in the micro-, meso-, or macrocosm, covering a small or large scale”.

®Macroscope; Multiperpectivism; Panorama thinking



2001    MAP (Mental) 2) - 3)

 A mental model we construct, knowingly or not, of some part of the world.

Of course, physical maps, or models, or even a sculpture, are originally mental maps, translated within artifacts.

S. BEER describes a map as: “the pattern of  something, represented with much attenuation of variety, but with its significant elements preserved” (1974, p.37).

Still, a map is a kind of metaphor. It corresponds however to a very general type of processes in neural networks, even in animals:

We register, interpret and retain experiences that can be retrieved when needed, let us say for instance, finding our way back home. As expressed by M. BODEN: “The map is used to generate an indefinite number of very useful ”coulds“ and ”cannots“. She adds this very important observation: ”A list of landmarks is less useful: like the parroting of the first seven square numbers, it does not generate any new notions“ (1990, p.47).

This means that a good map must include information about interrelations and dynamic interactions similar to G. KLIR's source system.

On a higher level of abstraction: “Theoretical maps help scientists to seek, and find, things never glimpsed before... For example, MENDELEEV's periodic table suggested to 19th Century chemists that unknown elements did exist, corresponding to specific gaps in the table”. However “A new theoretical map may not be universally welcomed, because yet-unseen spaces can be hard to imagine” (p.48). This explains at least in part the resistance to new paradigms, and specifically to the systemic paradigm.




A. KORZYBSKI's “map territory” metaphor is fundamental to the understanding of homomorphisms  and isomorphisms in General Systems Research.

KORZYBSKI stated: “Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is

not the territory it represents but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which

accounts for its usefulness” (1933, p.58).

Thereafter, KORZYBSKI transfers this understanding to languages: “If we reflect upon our languages, we find that at best they must be considered only as maps. A word is not the object it represents; and languages exhibit also this peculiar self-reflexiveness, that we can analyse languages by linguistic means. This self-reflexiveness of languages introduces serious complexities, which can be solved only by the theory of multiordinality” (Ibid).

That the word is not the object is made perfectly clear by G. BATESON's example: “The

word 'cat' cannot scratch us” (1973, p.153) and also from the following humorous A.N. WHITEHEAD“s comment, quoted by KORZYBSKI: ”The appeal to a class to perform the services of a proper entity is exactly analogous to an appeal to an imaginary terrier to kill a real

rat“ (1933, p.247).

As to theory of multiordinality, it is quite close to RUSSELL's theory of logical types.

Confounding the “map” with the “territory” leads generally to dire consequences, as well as using an incorrectly structured “map”, whether geographic, linguistic or conceptual.

The subject has also been reworked by H. von FOERSTER through his Cybernetics of 2d order (1981).



2003    MAPPING 2)

The process of coupling two sets in a one-one correspondence.

St. BEER gives the very simple example of creating such a one-one correspondence between the 26 letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1 to 26 (1968, p.107).

While purely abstract mapping may be isomorphic, when we try to model concrete systems, “... in practice the mapping will be homomorphic – able to preserve some structure, but committed to losing some information. Thus our account of nature is 'true', but defective, and our account of such characteristics of nature as causation and law will change with the linguistic mapping we choose” (p.121).

Any model we do construct of any part of our universe is in some sense a mapping, and necessarily a merely homomorphic one, and: “The variety of the image system obtained with a homomorphic mapping is, of course, smaller than the original one” (R. VALL]E, 1993b, p.75). It is essential for our conceptual (and possibly even mental) sanity to understand this and consequently, to relativize our knowledge.

Mappings are useful for the exploration of the interconnections and eventual transformations of the contents of the set of the interrelated items.



2104    METAPHORIC FRAMEWORK 1) - 2) - 4)

 H. BENKING and A. JUDGE observe that the "intellectual product" of international conferences of all kinds "takes the form of complex declarations and programmes"

  They consider that "the challenge is to configurate the conceptual elements into a global comprehensible form.  This is necessary to counteract the tendency to generate an asymmetric agglomeration of elements"(1994)

  While this is obvious, it is also obvious that the actual form of the post-conference declarations is sometimes a true reflection of contradictory intentions and interests of the participants...and even of the muddled thinking of some of them.

  The authors add: "In addition to its mnemonic function, a metaphoric framework can then highlight the possible missing elements as well as suggesting ways of understanding interesting functional relationships between such elements"(Ibid)   This is again obvious, but transparency may be in some cases ignored by some who want to better dissimulate covert intentions.  Moreover, the selection of the metaphoric framework itself could easily become the source (or the pretext!) of endless and inconclusive debate 



2105    METAPHORS (Classes of) 2)

 H. BENKING and A. JUDGE write: "There is a need to distinguish classes of metaphors offering different advantages and disadvantages.  Typically they would include: geometric forms (cube, sphere, polyhedra in general), artificial forms (townscapes, house, room), natural forms (landscape, trees, etc.), systemic structures (highway systems, pathways, flow systems), dynamic systems (atomic, molecular, planetary, galactic systems), traditional symbol systems (mandalas, sand paintings, etc.)"(1994)

  In fact, what the authors call metaphors can in most cases be also considered as models.

  To their listing an important addendum would be topological graphs, matrixes and mathematical curves (for ex. exponential, asymptotic, logistic, gaussian).

  The authors add: "Of special interest are those sets of metaphors which permit inter-transformation with minimal loss of conceptual integrity (in terms of maintaining relationships between data referents) (Ibid)  And: "With information beyond a certain degree of complexity, it is questionable whether any single metaphor is adequate as an interface for adequate comprehension.  This is best exemplified by the wave/particle metaphors used to comprehend fundamental physical systems" (Ibid)   Moreover: "It is equally desirable to understand the use of metaphors in terms of the alternation between perspectives which provide a sense of depth that would otherwise be unavailable.  Such "depth" is distinct from that obtainable from any 3-D metaphor which although it offers depth, is cognitively not as significant as that offered from the cognitive integration of two contrasting metaphors.  Such "depth" is only achievable by alternation between metaphorical interfaces (as the wave/particle example suggests)" (Ibid)   As an interesting tool, the authors also propose the creation of a "library of metaphors".



2228    MULTI-PERSPECTIVISM 1) - 2) - 4)

 The most dangerous challenge that mankind will have to meet during the 21st c. is the growing confusion in all kinds of issues, worldwide.

  A very sketchy sampling of these is as follows:

-the anarchic growth of megalopolis and the resulting numerous and intractable problems of most varied kinds

-the growingly complex ecological problems, turning evermore global (atmosphereic pollution, water crisis, possible climate change, waste accumulation, etc.)

-the worldwide massive demographic explosion, possibly starting now to turn into an implosion

-terrorism, anarchy, warfare and massive corruption spreading in all continents

-growing hostility between some cultures

-foreign debt and financial crisis in many countries

  All of these issues are known, but merely in a superficial ill-connected way.  Their interrelations are ignored or ill understood.

  This situation is now emerging in the consciousness of a growing number of people and systemic multi-perspective models are starting to appear.

  H. BENKING, for instance, advocates the need to make a wide-embracing "know-map", in a coherently organized fashion, in order to become able to find the specific information we need (but within context!), and even possibly to discover more precisely what to look for". In this way, every "player" would know better where he is located in the general frame of events, with whom to start a conversation and eventually what to do and how to do it.

  Benking adds that we do not only need a "good map", but also a compass to orient us when using the map and find (or become oneself) a good pilot in the cybernetic sense.

  Other important proposers of multiperspectivism are:

-A. JUDGE, general secretary of the Union of International Associations (Brussels) who publishes an Encyclopedia about world problems and world resources to solve or manage them: http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/aadocdia.htm

-The Club of Rome interconnected World Models, based on Forrester's Systems Dynamics

-J. de ROSNAY, who proposed his "Macroscope" as an integrative and also multiperspective view of wholes

-the "Systems Reasoning Paradigm of the Information Image and Nature”  of M. BACEWICZ (Polish Systems Society at Wroclaw Technological University)

-B.H. Banathy, J. WARFIELD,  and I. MITROFF and H. LINSTONE's work on Design are also important contributions

®Eco-cube/know map; Panorama; Scholasticism; Underconceptualization




 H.. BENKING proposes a three-fold space-time panorama of understanding linking subjects, objects and contexts.  He writes "The objective is to transcend and transform by thinking within, between and beyond, not inside "boxes" or domains"

  Graphically, Benking proposes a representation through interconnexions between three boxes: the subject-box, the object-box and the context-box.

  He writes: "The subject-box and the context-box are looking at the objects in the object-box, and the context-box enables us to map the metaphors of understanding the kind of reality in which this is taking place" 

  Each "box" is represented by a cube, that can easily be subdivided in more elemental sub-boxes corresponding to more specific situations.

  This model is based, according to BENKING "on the ekistic grid, as conceived by DOXIADIS in the field of planning sciences.  We can search not only for words, but for "areas"or "bodies" of data and knowledge.  After agreement on location and content, genuine capabilities of man can come into play, which allow fast visual access and assimilation of very large volumes of data"



2463    PANORAMA THINKING 1) - 2)

 H. BENKING considers that "We have to be able to talk about the same things with words which are grounded...We need to see terms and concepts in their context" …

and "We can construct frames-of-reference as a schemata to visually reference and share diverse but inter-connected positions, focuses, ranges and horizons, in order to develop not only common grounds but a tolerance for alternate ways of seeing our different levels and scopes"

  By adequate and open conversation, we can create a common ground.  In this way every player can discover his own place in the general panorama and understand better what he does and what he could and should do, or not do.

  Benking advocates the construction of a good representation of the panorama (Eco-cube/know map)

  We can use the cybernetic tools to order our data-base.  But he warns that we should not let us stray in a "virtual cyberspace" in a mainly and merely technical sense, with no relevance to real situations.

  Scales and proportions and their consequences should be duly taken in account in our representation, as we construct a 3 dimensional space/time model.




1)  general information    2)  methodology or model   3)  epistemology, ontology and semantics   4) human sciences  5) discipline oriented



Pls. note! 

that the author takes the liberty as a collaborator and part of the Academic Comittee to include figures and relevant references typically in a highlighted format. The original entries of my work by the editor-in-chief Charles Francois are not changed  !! - but additions are made in view of the forthcoming ESCO Encyclopedia in a Mediawiki format. New Editor Guenther Ossimitz.

Mail:  Guenter  [at]  ossimitz.at

See also the IFSR Newsletter announcements October 2004.

As the WIKI will be available soon you will have all entries available with their own WIKI page.