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Theories of Development

The Organismic Worldview

Those favoring an Organismic Worldview recognize both efficient and material causes as important but place even more emphasis on what they see as formal and final causes. Formal causes reflect the organizational quality of all living systems, while final causes reflect organicists' belief that human development is a directional process. To use an analogy, when hydrogen and oxygen are combined to form water, a substance is created with properties radically different than either of its two constituents. At room temperature, hydrogen and oxygen each exists as a gas but water exists asa liquid. Water is very good for putting out fires, while oxygen and hydrogen actually have the opposite effect. As such, the emerging properties of water are radically different from the properties of the individual elements of which it is comprised. In the same way, organicists argue that humans are each more than the sum of their parts and that humans are actively involved in their own construction.

Two of the major theoretical traditions within the Organismic Worldview are the psychoanalytic models associated with the work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Erik Erikson (1902-1994), and the cognitive developmental model associated with the work of Jean Piaget (1896-1980).

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 8Theories of Development - The Mechanistic Worldview, The Organismic Worldview, The Contextualist Worldview