Theory in the Grand Manner

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(6), 451–453. Reviews the book, Living Systems by James Grier Miller (1978). This book is an exposition of a general theory of living systems. Living systems can be identified at seven hierarchical levels cell, organ, organism, group, organization, society, and supranational systems Seven of the book's 13 chapters are devoted to discussion of each of these levels. Of the remaining six, four provide basic definitions, concepts, and hypotheses; one a general introduction, and one a set of conclusions. Readers will want to perform the logical analysis of general systems hypotheses themselves. Many of those examined by this reviewer appeared to suffer, in whole or part, from a confusion between the role of operational definition and the function of a testable, predictive, potentially falsifiable hypothesis. The purpose of a work of this is to provide a framework in which many diverse phenomena can be encompassed, using a standard terminology. Those who seek universal, coherent, elegant formulations in the grand manner will find it to be a master work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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