Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 59–79 | Cite as

Persons and organisms

  • James Hunter


The philosophical quest for unity leads to the desire for a clear and adequate conception of human reality as a “mind-body unity.” This quest for unity has led both to conceptions of considerable heuristic value and to overly reductionistic approaches that impoverish our full relation to reality. Three basic themes are developed in this essay:
  1. 1.

    That on an ontological level dualistic and monistic approaches to mind-body remain equally plausible.

  2. 2.

    That on a practical level, epistemological considerations require us to retain a dualistic approach suggested by the terms “person” and “organism.”

  3. 3.

    That psychotherapy (whether religious or secular) must ground itself in the notion of “person.”


Differences between the concepts of “person” and “organism” are delineated on six specific points. Finally, it is suggested that a holistic approach to health requires both constructs.


Specific Point Holistic Approach Reductionistic Approach Practical Level Dualistic Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Institutes of Religion and Health 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Hunter
    • 1
  1. 1.Community Health and Counseling CenterLincoln

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