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Ştefan Odobleja (Romanian pronunciation: [ʃteˈfan odoˈbleʒa]; 1902–1978) was a Romanian scientist, one of the precursors of cybernetics. His major work, Psychologie consonantiste, first published in 1938 and 1939, in Paris, had established many of the major themes of cybernetics regarding cybernetics and systems thinking nine years before Norbert Wiener.
Ştefan Odobleja was born into a family of peasants in 1902, in Valea Izvorului (now Ştefan Odobleja), Mehedinţi County, Romania. He attended the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest and became a physician. He practiced medicine as a military doctor in Bucharest, Dej, Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Lugoj, Târgovişte and other Romanian cities. Despite a poverty stricken and, in some ways, a difficult life, he managed to remain productive. His completed works run to over 50,000 pages.
The most important of these writings is Psychologie consonantiste (French title - Psihologia consonantistă in Romanian). This book, published in Paris (vol. I in 1938 and vol. II in 1939), ran to nearly 900 pages and included 300 figures in the text. The author wrote at the time that "this book is... a table of contents, an index or a dictionary of psychology, [for] a ... great Treatise of Psychology that should contain 20-30 volumes". In this work, Ştefan Odobleja had laid the theoretical foundations of what became known later as cybernetics. However, partly due to the beginning of World War II, almost immediately after its publication the book was generally ignored. The first Romanian edition of this groundbreaking work did not appear until 1982 (the first edition was published in French).
He died in ignorance in some kind of home arrest imposed by the first after war communist (Bolshevik) regime because cybernetics was declared a science of capitalist nature by that Romanian government. The academic contacts were dropped and he was under severe surveillance. His house was disconnected from electricity to prevent him to continue his writings. Even paper was scarce in his home and he used to write his thoughts on the unprinted areas of the local propaganda newspapers.
His son insisted to imprint next to the name on the grave stone of his father the label "Father of Cybernetics" notwithstanding the protest of the local government representatives.
Since his time, mainly due to Odobleja's influence, cybernetics has become increasingly important in Romania. One of the largest Romanian state universities, Academia de Studii Economice Bucureşti, has a Cybernetics department.
As an appreciation for his entire work of mapping the unknown territory of the consonantist psychology, cybernetics and generalized cybernetics, Ştefan Odobleja was elected posthumously an honorary member of the Romanian Academy (1990).
In 1982 a group of scientists have established the "Cybernetics Academy "Ştefan Odobleja", a scientific forum registered in Lugano, Switzerland, financed by the Romanian billionaire Prof. Dr. Iosif Constantin Drăgan.
- Hinoveanu, Ilarie -- Ştefan Odobleja: între "aventura ştiinţifică" şi patimile glorificării, Craiova, Scrisul românesc, 2003.
- "Two Specialists in Cybernetics: Stefan Odobleja and Norbert Weiner. Common and Different Features", by Nicolae Jurcau, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, Boston, Massachusetts, August 10-15, 1998