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Ştefan Odobleja (Romanian pronunciation: [ʃteˈfan odoˈbleʒa]; 13 October 1902 – 4 September 1978) was a Romanian scientist considered to be one of the precursors of cybernetics. His major work, Psychologie consonantiste (first published in 1938 and 1939, in Paris) helped generated 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. Endowed with an uncommon capacity of work and with an astonishing inventive spirit, Odobleja left an impressive work to the posterity. His completed works run to over 50,000 pages.
In 1936, Odobleja publishes “Phonoscopy and the clinical semiotics”. In 1937, he participates in the IXth International Congress of Military Medicine with a paper entitled “Demonstration de phonoscopie”, where he disseminates a prospectus in French, announcing the appearance of his future work “The Consonantist Psychology”.
The most important of his writings is Psychologie consonantiste, in which Odobleja lays the theoretical foundations of the generalized cybernetics. The book, published in Paris by "Librairie Maloine" (vol. I in 1938 and vol. II in 1939), contains almost 900 pages and includes 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".
Due to the beginning of World War II, the publication went unnoticed. The first Romanian edition of this work did not appear until 1982 (the first edition was published in French).
The Romanian communist government had little understanding of the subject and even declared cybernetics a science of capitalist nature. Odobleja, being its main advocate, was put under surveillance and home arrest.
Ştefan Odobleja died on September 4, 1978. His son put the epitaph “Father of Cybernetics” on his tomb stone, much to the Romanian government’s chagrin.
European recognition of his contribution to the foundations of cybernetics took place when his paper, "Diversity and Unit in Cybernetics" (presented at the Fourth Congress of Cybernetics and Systems in Amsterdam, August, 1978), was received with great acclaim.
As an appreciation for his 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 established the "Cybernetics Academy "Ştefan Odobleja", a scientific forum registered in Lugano, Switzerland, financed by the Romanian billionaire Prof. Dr. Iosif Constantin Drăgan.
- ""Series on Science and Technology of Information", Volume 2, 2009
- Odobleja, Ştefan - "Psychologie consonantiste", Paris, Librairie Maloine; 1938-1939; 2 vol. (504, p. 500-884)
- Romanian Scientists "Series on Science and Technology of Information" - Volume 2 , 2009 - p. 49
- 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