Chapter 7: The Theory of “The Whole Man” and Its Counterpart in Practice

1. What typically characterizes the plans or procedure of people who advocate the principle of unity expressed by phrases such as “The Whole Man” and “organism as a whole?”

2. What is necessary before the conception of unity can be put into practice consistently?

3. What is demanded of individuals if they want to be educated in the areas of mind, body and character in a whole way? What will the fulfilling of this demand imply?

4. What must success in carrying out a new plan depend upon?

5. What has Alexander’s life work demonstrated?

6. What did these responsible for the survey referred to in the extract from the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine fail to take into account when they formulated their plans of procedure for diagnosis and treatment?

Thought Questions

1. Consider the following statements from a letter written by one of Alexander’s pupils whom he quotes in this chapter (p. 164):

“Our judgement of the correctness of what we are doing depends on feeling….”

“There are no adequate means of communicating the sensory experience of the performance of a given act (by the Whole Man).”

“[The pupil is] unable to perform an act correctly until he has had the experience, and unaware of the experience until he has performed the act.”

Do you agree with these statements in full or in part? What model of human organization is the author of these statements working from?

2. Write your own response to the Times article entitled “The Whole Man.”

3. Alexander seems to believe that methods based on “true” principles can only help towards a more advanced period of development. What is a “true principle?”

4. If the principle upon which a method is based is a true principle, is it possible that the method itself could later prove a “retarding influence” in later periods of development?

5. According to Alexander (p. 172), how is a method which “limits the scope of both diagnosis and treatment, and is characterized by a narrowing down of the localization of the disease” unscientific? Do you agree or disagree? What does it mean to be “scientific?”

6. Alexander criticizes Dr. Carrell’s suggestion of a “superman” who could correlate disparate data and “could effectively direct the construction of the human being and of a civilization based upon his true nature” (p. 178) and suggests instead “men and women who, profiting by change in their outlook and approach to the conception of the unity of the living organism and the philosophy of truth, would refuse to bolster up any plan (or examine the results of its practical working) unless they were convinced that their deductions were made from complete premises” (p. 179). How can one be convinced that deductions are being made from complete premises?