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DIMENSIONS OF LIFE: A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO THE INORGANIC AND THE ORGANIC IN PAUL TILLICH AND PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN

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Abstract:

Abstract.

Systems theory provides a surprisingly fruitful approach to several important ideas held in common by Paul Tillich and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. These include complexity or organization as the key to understanding the distinction between the inorganic and the organic, and hierarchy or levels in complex systems. Teilhard and systems theorists accept hierarchy as fundamental. Tillich questions the concept and prefers “dimensions,” including the inorganic, organic, psychological, spiritual, and historical dimensions. Tillich's rejection of hierarchy is questioned, but significant correlations are discovered in the systems interpretation of the psychological and spiritual dimensions as well as in the use of “centeredness” by both thinkers.

Keywords: Ludwig von Bertalanffy; centeredness; complexity; dimensions; hierarchy; levels; life; potentiality; self-awareness; spirit; systems theory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00701.x

Affiliations: Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University, Miami FL 33199;, Email: Huchings@fiu.edu.

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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