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Examples of Multi-aspectual Functioning

All human activity is multi-aspectual human functioning, which is to say it involves a multiplicity of aspects even when one aspect is most important. It is especially prevalent in everyday life, though it also applies in professional and scientific activity. This page contains small examples.

The page is only just started. Contents:

See also whole pages devoted to specific examples:

To understand the concepts involved, see the pages explaining and discussing: multi-aspectual human functioning, the idea of a most important or qualifying aspect, and the idea of aspects themselves.

Collecting Folk's Music

Bruce Green recounted (BBC Radio 4, 09.00 hrs, 4 August 2009) his experiences of collecting the music of people, especially on the fiddle (violin). He told how, for example, the fiddle was tuned down one full tone because the strings used were not strong enough to maintain the tension usual on today's violins, which gave them a curious mellow tone. He went round many people collecting songs. At one place, for example, he was not allowed to record any of the music, but instead he stayed a long time listening and trying to learn to play in that musician's way. He just couldn't 'get' it, so he was allowed to record a small snatch, not enough to let anyone make money from it but enough to let him learn.

He also told how the people he collected from treated him as a friend, not just someone who would up and disappear as soon as the songs were collected. But he had collected from so many people that he lost contact with most. One day he received a letter from one person, which ran (something like) "I was expecting you back that evening. I waited for you for a week but you never came. That's no way to treat an old friend. You will be welcome any time you want to come back." He returned. He made a conscious decision to stop collecting from new people and concentrate on returning to people he had already known.

See how multi-aspectual this process is. The main aspect, that of music, is the aesthetic, and of course it crops up in many little details such as tuning the fiddle down a tone. The reason was meaningful in the physical aspect: strength of materials. There was a juridical aspect of ownership, so he was not allowed to record - yet the rule was relaxed when it was appropriate to do so (appropriateness is another juridically-meaningful concept) because of the requirements of another aspect, that of learning a skill: which is meaningful in the formative aspect. Then there was the economic aspect, as he saw it, of seeing the songs as resources, but the musicians he visited saw it from the point of view of the social aspect, as a friendship. He then committed himself to working in a different way: the pistic aspect. And, of course, there are many other aspects.

Lark Rise - Rural Living in Late 1800s

Read the book Lark Rise to Candleford and I think you are in for a treat. I did, and found it a fascinating account of rural living. What made it so fascinating was its richness and diversity - growing crops, work, pay, food, housing, decoration, church attendance, bringing up of children, and so on. For a full account, see the separate page on Lark Rise. There you can find an substantial extract to read through to get the feel of the piece, and this is followed by a tabular aspectual analysis, a fragment of which is given below, in which the aspect names are abbreviated:

The hamlet stood on a gentle rise in the flat, wheat-growing north-east corner of Oxfordshire. {sp}
We will call it Lark Rise because of the great number of skylarks which made the surrounding fields their springboard and nested on the bare earth between the rows of green corn. {bio}
All around, from every quarter, the stiff, clayey soil of the arable fields crept up, bare, brown and windswept for eight months out of the twelve. {phys}
Spring brought a flush of green wheat and there were violets under the hedges and pussy-willows out beside the brook at the bottom of the 'Hundred Acres', {bio}
but only for a few weeks in later summer had the landscape real beauty. {aes}
Then the ripened cornfields rippled up to the doorsteps of the cottages and the hamlet became an island in a sea of dark gold. {aes-beauty}
To a child it seemed that it must always have been so; but the ploughing and sowing and reaping were recent innovations. {fv}
Old men could remember when the Rise, covered with juniper bushes, stood in the midst of a furzy heath - common land which had come under the plough after the passing of the Enclosure Acts. {jur}
Some of the ancients still occupied cottages on land which had been ceded to their fathers as 'squatters' rights', and probably all the small plots upon which the houses stood had originally been so ceded. {jur}
In the eighteen-eighties the hamlet consisted of about thirty cottages and an inn, not built in rows, but dotted down anywhere within a more or less circular group. {sp}
A deeply rutted cart track surrounded the whole, and separate houses or groups of houses were connected by a network of pathways. {kin}
Going from one part of the hamlet to another was called "going round the Rise", {kin, lg}
and the plural of 'house' was not 'houses' but 'housen'. {lg}
The only shop was a small general one kept in the back kitchen of the inn. {eco}
The church and school were in the mother village, a mile and half away. {soc}

Failure of a Large Information System

This might involve an analysis of text. For example, Mitev [2001] discussed the failure that was the early SNCF (the French national railways) Socrate rail ticketing system:

"Technical malfunctions, political pressure, poor management, unions and user resistance led to an inadequate and to some extent chaotic implementation. Staff training was inadequate and did not prepare salespeople to face tariff inconsistencies and ticketing problems. The user interface was designed using the airlines logic and was not user-friendly. The new ticket proved unacceptable to customers. Public relations failed to prepare the public to such a dramatic change. The inadequate database information on timetable and routes of trains, inaccurate fare information, and unavailability of ticket exchange capabilities caused major problems for the SNCF sales force and customers alike. Impossible reservations on some trains, inappropriate prices and wrong train connections led to large queues of irate customers in all major stations. Booked tickets were for non-existent trains whilst other trains ran empty, railway unions went on strike, and passengers' associations sued SNCF."

Each phrase seems to be of a certain aspect, e.g. "sued SNCF" is juridical. If we collect these, then we can distribute phrases among the aspects as follows:

Table 1. Aspects of Socrate Use
Aspect Phrases from Mitev's report
Quant'ive Large, all
Spatial queues
Kinematic timetable and routes of trains, wrong train connections
Physical -
Biotic -
Psychic not user-friendly, unacceptable to customers, irate
Analytic tariff inconsistencies, airlines logic, inadequate database information
Formative Technical malfunctions, prepare salespeople, Impossible reservations
Lingual inaccurate fare information, Staff training, Public relations failed, sales force
Social the public, passenger associations
Economic poor management, ticket exchange capabilities, customers, non-existent trains, trains ran empty, railway unions went on strike
Aesthetic chaotic implementation, prepare the public to such a dramatic change
Juridical political pressure, inadequate implementation, The user interface was designed using the airlines logic, inappropriate prices, Booked tickets, passengers' associations sued SNCF
Ethical -
Pistic unions and user resistance

No wonder the system was a failure; it failed in almost every aspect!

Note: Though ticket selling is part of professional life, when seen from the point of view of SNCF, ticket purchasing is part of the everyday living of railway travellers. The above account is written from various points of view, but especially the latter.


Mitev N.N., (1996), "More than a failure? The computerized reservation systems at French Railways", Information Technology and People, 9(4):8-19.
This page provides examples illustrating various things within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Copyright (c) 2009 Andrew Basden except where otherwise stated.

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Created: 4 August 2009 Last updated: