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Other Suites of Aspects

Many, in many disciplines, have tried to set down what they consider to be the top-level important issues that need consideration, and that are not reducible to each other. To do so seems almost a desire of the human heart, whether for merely understanding, or for practical use. It turns out that in many cases the proposed set has strong parallels to Dooyeweerd's set of aspects and is a subset thereof.

We discuss the following suites of 'aspects' (though the page is growing):

A useful tabular comparison is available for some major suites, including some not included here. We also have a discussion of advantages of Dooyeweerd's suite.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs

==== to be written; well known. But there is great similarity, such as self-actualization, the top aspect, is very like Dooyeweerd's pistic aspect. But Maslow's suite is an hierarchy. This is similar to Dooyeweerd's notion of aspectual dependency but it has no concept of aspectual analogy.

Allen Newell's Theory of Levels

The late Allen Newell published The Knowledge Level, a paper that has had enormous impact on the disciplines of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. In it he proposes that there are a number of distinct 'levels' at which computer systems may be described, and as a result may be discussed, researched, designed and have their behaviour predicted. The beauty of Newell's work is that he worked out his ideas in some detail - around five dozen key points in all - and this detail might be useful in enriching Dooyeweerd's ideas. Newell's levels seem to correspond quite well with a small range of Dooyeweerdian aspects:

Aspect Corresponding Level Contents of Level
(to do with quantity, amount)
- -
(to do with continuous extension, space)
- -
(to do with movement; flowing movement)
- -
(to do with energy + mass)
Device Level Semiconductors, electrons, fields, etc.
(to do with life functions)
Circuit Level Electronic and mechanical components in machine, cells and organs in human being, etc. See below.
(to do with sense, feeling, emotion)
Bit Level Signals, 'bits', aggregation of bits into computer registers and memory cells, etc.
(to do with distinguishing )
Symbol Level Symbols: 'raw' symbols that are devoid of their representational meaning, but anticipating it.
(to do with history, culture, technology: shaping and creativity)
Knowledge Level Theme 1 - Goal achievement by rational action Goals, actions and bodies of knowledge; Principle of Rationality: the actions that agents select to undertake are those that will fulfil their goals, based on the knowledge they possess. Also the forming (maybe transiently) of symbol structures.
(to do with symbolic communication)
Knowledge Level Theme 2 - 'Aboutness' What the symbols and their structuring represent, especially in the agent's environment. Reaching out beyond the boundaries of the agent itself.
(to do with social interaction)
- Newell later discussed extension to what he called 'social agents' and Jennings (2000) proposed a new level, the social level. Basden has suggested a tacit level that involves social and cultural knowledge.
(to do with frugal use of resources)
- -
(to do with harmony, surprise, fun)
- -
(to do with what is due; 'retribution', rights and responsibilities)
- -
(to do with self-giving love)
- -
(to do with vision, aspiration, commitment, creed, religion)
- -

The correspondence between Newell's levels and Dooyeweerd's aspects is not total, of course. But considering that the two thinkers came from totally different cultures and starting points, and had very different motivations, it is surprising how close the correspondence is. For both thinkers, their 'taxonomy' emerged from long consideration of practice and real life. This may be taken as minor evidence that Dooyeweerd's aspects are more than the product of a philosopher or Christian, but reflect the way reality seems to be.

That the correspondence stops at the lingual aspect is explained by the fact that Newell's levels are concerned with knowledge representation, which is a lingual functioning. So it involves only the aspects on which the lingual depends.

However, there are differences that must be discussed. For example, Newell's circuit level is not truly biotic. However, Newell was making the assumption common in AI culture of his time, that the human and the computing machine were essentially the same, and both could support 'intelligence' etc. This is, of course, a major difference. However, there is one major similarity: both the biotic aspect Newell's circuit level describe things in terms of organs or components made out of physical materials (whether by life processes or manufacturing).

The correspondence between Newell's theory and Dooyeweerd's is actually much stronger than can be deduced from a mere taxonomic comparision as we have undertaken here, in that most of the 63 key points of Newell's theory are supported by and amenable to Dooyeweerd's thinking, with the few others being able to be modified and enriched by Dooyeweerd's ideas; this contrasts markedly with the main streams of philosophy. This is to be discussed in a paper that I hope will be published in Artificial Intelligence early in 2002, entitled "The knowledge level - a philosophical enrichment for the next twenty years".

Levels in Linguistics

The discipline or science of linguistics - the science of the lingual aspect - has six sub-disciplines which, for spoken language, are:

These correspond quite well to the lingual and the aspects that precede it. In particular,

But linguistic pragmatics, which is a "rag-bag of things beyond semantics", is possibly not a single aspect but rather a lingual anticipation of all later aspects.

Types of Children's Learning

Gardner (1993) claims that children learn in at least seven different ways, often in combination of several ways. This has strong similarities with Dooyeweerdian functioning in one or more aspects, and Gardner's ways of learning seem to correlate well with the aspects. (However, I have not read Gerdner's book, and was introduced to his ideas via a paper by Norshuhada Shiratuddin and Monica Landoni presented at ECITE 2001, who suggest what type of computer software might aid each type of learning. I suggest which aspects relate to which types of learning by their interpretation of Gardner's work.)

Type of Learning What helps the child Corresponding aspect
Verbal/linguistic Loves words and story telling Lingual aspect
Logical-mathematical Interested in concepts, numbers and scientific exploration Mainly analytic aspect but with some quantitative aspect.
Visual-spatial Learns best through pictures and images, enjoys art and mentally visualizes things easily Mainly spatial aspect with some psycho-sensitive functioning involved in the visualization.
Bodily-kinesthetic Needs to move an touch to learn The kinematic aspect of moving, with the psycho-sensitive and physical aspects to account for the touching.
Musical Uses rhythm and melody to learn Aesthetic aspect
Interpersonal Learns best with other people around Social aspect
Intrapersonal Gets more out of being left alone to learn Possibly pistic aspect; see below.

(The allocation of the pistic aspect to intrapersonal learning is partly because such people maybe have a distinct notion of who they are, and also because the paper suggests that computer games in which the learner plays against the computer are a good way for this type of learning.)

If this correlation is valid, then Dooyeweerd's aspects might enrich Gardner's ideas, by suggesting yet other ways of learning from an examination of which aspects are not represented above. For example, we might make the following suggestions:

Aspect Its kernel meaning Type of learning
Biotic aspect Life functions, growth Learning by seeing things grow, tending things. Also 'pocket pets'.
Economic aspect Frugality; skill in using limited resources. Learning by being careful with resources, and enjoying neatness etc.
Juridical aspect What is due; law. Learning the 'rightness' of things. Maybe learning rules (note: not rote) could be related to this, but of course such learning is out of fashion.
Ethical aspect Self-giving love Learning by giving generously. Not sure that this could actually help in learning.
Pistic aspect Faith, vision of who we are, commitment Religious learning of various kinds.

Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland)

Things that should be taken into account in developing information systems: (Note the attempt to make this easy to remember: choosing words with the same letter.)

Boulding's Types of System

Of all suites, Boulding's seems most different from Dooyeweerd's, partly because the order is different, e.g. cybernetic before biotic, and the biotic is split up. See tabular comparison.

From Boulding, K. (1985) The World as a Total System, Sage, Beverley, New York. [AB: also in Lewis 'ISD' p. 45.]

Various Others

Lewis (ISD, p64) mentions the following sets of what we might call 'aspects' of information systems.

Culnan and Swanson (1996) suggest three foundation disciplines for information systems

Liebenau and Backhouse (1990) identify only two:

Ahituv and Neumann (1990) name:

Zwass (1992) identifies seven contributing disciplines, including:

Hirscheim and Boland (1989) identify two primary fields:

and a large number of supporting disciplines such as in which one might see the idea of qualifying aspects among multi-aspectual functioning.

Max Neef (1992) identified ==== to be written.


Gardner H (1993) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Fontana.

Newell A (1992) "The knowledge level" Artificial Intelligence v.18(2):87-127.

This is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments are very welcome.

Compiled by Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 19 September 2001. Last updated: 3 March 2003 .nav, some written for Maslow. 14 March 2004 links corrected. 21 November 2005 .end. unets. 3 February 2006 links; rid counter, boulding more.