The Living Body as a Model of Systemic Organization in Ancient Thinking

Elisabetta Matelli*

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


This research is part of a demanding 'theoretical' research project around systems theory in close contact with international research of scientists and humanists who work on this topic. In this broader context lies the contribution of this article that investigates how classical culture has come to perceive the living organism as a compound of interconnected parts. Analyzing Homer's and Aristotle's text, the A. faces the ancient Greek origin of the organicist model (introduced since 1920 in system theory) and presents its features. In Homer there is still no term to indicate the living body as a whole, but is present the idea of a principle capable of giving ‘shape’ (eidos) to body elements and to counteract the natural tendency to disintegration: the soul (psyché). Only with Aristotle the living body begins to be understood as "organism", thanks to a hylomorphic and non-dualistic vision of the relationship of the soul with matter, which explains the living organism. The soul itself, in Aristotle, has the characteristics of a system. From this analysis, the organicist model seems to be enriched by the indispensable notion of ‘form’ which, in turn, calls for the need for an efficient cause outside the system.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteThe Systemic Turn in Human and in Natural Sciences. A Rock in the Pond
Numero di pagine22
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Aristotele
  • Aristotle
  • San Paolo
  • St. Paul
  • anima
  • corpo vivente
  • form (eidos)
  • forma (eidos)
  • hylomorphic
  • il tutto
  • ileomorfico
  • le parti
  • living body
  • organism
  • organismo
  • organizzazione sistemica
  • organizzazione sociale
  • parts of the whole
  • social organisation
  • soul
  • systemic organization
  • the whole


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