Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Toward a Metatheoretical Integration of Developmental Paradigms

Mark W. Antley

Abstract: This paper shows how a partial consilience might be achieved in the field of human development by means of principles from general systems theory. The author concurs with Sameroff (1989) that it is possible to interpret the mechanistic, organisimic, and contextualist paradigms/worldviews (Goldhaber, 2000; Pepper, 1970) in terms of general systems theory. The author selects a major developmentalist from each paradigm and interprets that scholar’s work in terms of systems principles. The following developmentalists were selected: Arnold Sameroff (contextualism), Erik Erickson (organicism), and Albert Bandura (mechanism). The systems principles employed are wholeness and order, self-stabilization, self-reorganization, hierarchical interaction, and dialectical contradiction (Sameroff, 1989). The author addresses the conflicting presuppositions of the major paradigms in order to provide for their theoretical subsuming under systems theory. Finally, the author notes areas of inconsistency that will need to be resolved in the future and calls for further scholarship to translate developmental theory in terms of general systems theory for the benefit of students, scholars, consultants and other practitioners familiar with systems theory.

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