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Tabular Comparison of Suites of Aspects

This is part of our discussion of why Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects may have advantages over others. On this page we are developing a tabular comparison; a non-tabular discussion may be found of other suites that do not occur here. See also tips for identifying aspects and some advantages of Dooyeweerd's suite.

Click the aspect heading to bring up the page for that aspect. Click the name of the suite of aspects in Column 1 to take you to notes and discussion below, or to another page where the suite is discussed.

Suite Aspects ...
Quantitative Spatial Kinematic Physical Biotic Sensitive Analytic Formative Lingual Social Economic Aesthetic Juridical Ethical Pistic Unplaced
hierarchy of needs
Biological Safety Enquiry Expression Affiliation
Aesthetic Transcendence
Realms of Meaning
Mathematics Physical Sci Biology Psychology (Synnoetics) (History) Language
Symbolic forms
Social science Various arts
Moral knowledge Religion
Checkland's Es Efficacy Effectiveness Efficiency Elegance Ethicality
Hartmann Inorganic Organic Psychic Historical Supra-individual
Ontol 2
Biological Technical Social
Action Types
Instrumental Communicative (Strategic) (Dramaturgical) Norm. Reg. (Discursive)
Modalities of
Moral sanction;
Kellert's Relational Values (Naturalistic) Naturalistic
Reason Dominionistic,
Symbolic (Affection) Utilitarian Aesthetic Moralistic Moralistic Spiritual Negativistic
Note: order differs
Mechanical Reproductive
Cybernetic Human Human? Social Social? Social? Transcendental Creodic
Dimensions of power Conceptual Technical Structural 'Symbolic'
Smuts' Wholes Material Living bodies Unconsc. control Consc. control Ditto Groups Spirituality
Kierkegaard's Stages Aesthetic Ethical (duty) Ethical (giving) Religious
Roget's Thesaurus Sections Abstract relations (most) Space Space: Motion Matter Affection: personal Intellect Intellect: formation of ideas;
Volition: individual
Intellect: communicating ideas Volition: intersocial;
Affections: sympathetic
Affections: moral Affections: religious
Encyclopaedia Britannica Outline 10. Branches of knowledge: maths 1. Matter, energy
2. The Earth
3. Life on earth
4. Human life
10. Branches of knowledge:
logic, science, philosophy
7. Technology Religion as symbolism 5. Human society
9. History
5. Society: wealth 6. Art 5. Society: law, politics 8. Religion But ...


The following are notes and small bits of discussion that expand the above and to which the above refers.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Need Aspects
Qnv Spl Kin Phy Bio Sns Anl Fmv Lng Soc Eco Aes Jur Eth Pis
Biological * ***
Safety ***
Affiliation * ***
Esteem ** **
Knowing, Understanding ****
Aesthetic ***
Transcendence ***
Freedom of
enquiry, expression
** ***
Self-Actualization . ..... ....***

Maslow's hierarchy of needs sees pretty comprehensive. Maslow himself did not see them as a strict hierarchy, to be fulfilled in any fixed order. However, as Hofstede [1984] points out, Maslow's theory tends to generate a false opinion and unhelpful attitude especially government officials and affluent communities and opinion-formers, that they have progressed to 'higher' levels of need actualisation, whereas the poor still struggle with basic needs.

[Hofstede. 1984. To be supplied =====]

By contrast, Dooyeweerd's aspects have no higher and lower, and would not foster nor excuse such attitudes. Especially since Dooyeweerd's aspects are not mere "needs" but are norms by which we should live - and the norm of the ethical and pistic aspects say we should not take such arrogance attieudes.

Phenix' Realms of Meaning

Philip Phenix' 1964 book Realms of Meaning is a philosophy of education, in which he tries to suggest a full curriculum. Remarkably, he incorporates most of Dooyeweerd's aspects (except spatial, kinematic, economic, which he includes in other aspects). Equally interesting, he calls them realms of meaning which is what aspects are, and he actually calls them aspects even though, as far as I know, he was unaware of Dooyeweerd. However, he places them in a different order. This, I think, is because it is aimed at designing a curriculum, and must consider the challenge: what needs to be taught before what - for example must teach ordinary language first so that children will be able to learn? He thus acknowledged Dooyeweerd's idea of inter-aspect dependency and their order in cosmic time. He divides them into six main groups, according to how they are taught.

Some of these do not fit exactly into aspects. For example personal knowledge, is about wholes (which Dooyeweerd understands differently from aspects, and as multi-aspectual) and links with Polanyi's Personal Knowledge. He recognises that each involves other aspects. I find this a remarkable suite of 'aspects', given no knowledge of Dooyeweerd, even more comprehensive than Maslow's hierarchy yet also philosophically based.

Habermas' Action Types

See also our more wide-ranging tabular comparison and our general discussions of Habermas with Dooyeweerd.

Habermas' action types, delineated as part of his theory of communicative action, are meant by him as different types of human, usually social, activity, with different main purposes.

In Dooyeweerdian terms these are not modes of action as the aspects are, but are distinct types of action which are led and qualified by various aspects. Most necessarily involve language and hence may be seen as qualified by the lingual aspect. But they are differentiated by their leading aspect as in the table above and the more nuanced table below, which allows more than one leading aspect.

Latterly Habermas has suggested that most might be reduced to communicative action since most involve communcation. In this Habermas is confusing reducibility with dependency. Dooyeweerd distinguishes these: dependency is when functioning in one aspect requires functioning in another but they are still irrreducible in that the two aspectual functionings are actually one single human functioning, a unity. To Dooyeweerd, aspects are different modes of the one unity, different ways in which we might look at it.

Action Type Aspects
Qnv Spl Kin Phy Bio Sns Anl Fmv Lng Soc Eco Aes Jur Eth Pis
Instrumental ***
Strategic ** **
Communicative ***
Normatively Regulated ** **
Dramaturgical *** ** *
Discursive ** **

Giddens Structuration Modalities

Giddens' Structuration Theory was an attempt to understand how human action and social structures affect and generate each other. He identified three basic 'modalities' of this: interpretive schemas as standardised shared blocks of knowledge that humans draw on to interpret things, resources are means through which intentions are realized and power is exercised, and norms are rules governing conduct. Each entry here gives these modalities, then the realm of human action, then the structures. Note the crossing of aspectual boundaries: power is formative but the resources to effect it are economic. Also, while signification is mainly lingual, the standardization in interpretive schemas is social. See more on Giddens Structuration Theory.

Dimensions of Power

There is increasing interest over the past 20-30 years in power relations. Stephen Lukes (1974) in Power: A Radical View (London: Macmillan) outlines several dimensions of power that professionals exercise over users, and this was expanded by Markus KL, Bjørn-Andersen N (1987) (in: Power over users: its exercise by systems professionals. Comm. ACM 30:498-504) especially for information system (computer) professionals and users.

We can see immediately that (a) these dimensions fit four aspects very well (b) there are many important aspects missing (e.g. aesthetic - pressure to conform to fashion, ethical - appealing to people's better nature, lingual - eloquence, sensitive - playing on people's feelings, juridical - appealing to sense of due). It may be that Dooyeweerd's aspects could enrich Markus and Bjørn-Andersen's, and also Lukes' frameworks.

Jan Smuts' Grading of Wholes: Levels of Holism

Jan Smuts, who coined the term 'holism', wanted to see reality in terms of wholes rather than e.g. matter or spirit, and developed a theoretical approach in his 1927 Holism and Evolution. He identified a "rough and provisional" of a progressive of grading of wholes. Since wholes are unified events or things that are 'more' than the sum of their parts, we may see them in terms of their distinct ways in which they are meaningful in reality. That is how Dooyeweerd understands existence and entities, and each kind is qualified by a distinct aspect. Smuts' gradings are as follows, and I explain why I assign each aspects to them.

Notice how Smuts' order matches Dooyeweerd's. For discussion of Smuts' ideas, see Jan Smuts' Holism: A Dooyeweerdian View.


Wilenius is rooted in phenomenonology. Not only did he seem to identify quite a number of Dooyeweerd's aspects, but he also, like Dooyeweerd, held that they are both irreducible to each other and coherent. The information above is from, sent by Gareth Jones (for which many thanks):

Stephen Kellert's Relational Values

Stephen Kellert worked from the 1960s onwards to understand human relationship with the natural world and especially with animals. His thought evolved, as described in Ross' [2018] paper. The assignment of aspects in the table is mainly according his later views, but sometimes earlier views and the benefits that accrue from the values inform our choice. The following is from Table 1 in Ross, giving original [o] and later [l] then biophilic benefits [b], and explains our choice of aspects for each.

- Aesthetic (later termed attraction)

- Dominionistic

- Ecologistic-Scientific 1 (later - reason)

- Ecologistic-Scientific 2 (later - reason)

- Humanistic (later - affection)

- Moralistic

- Naturalistic

- Negativistic (later - aversion)

- Neutralistic

- Spiritual

- Symbolic

- Utilitarian (later - exploitation)