Perceiving Freedom and Meaning in Nature: Operationalizing Trans-Classical Systems Theory for Converging Scientific and Religious Knowing

Perceiving Freedom and Meaning in Nature: Operationalizing Trans-Classical Systems Theory for Converging Scientific and Religious Knowing

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Within the current science and theology/religion dialogue, the debate that arguably is carried out with most vehemence pertains to the question whether nature’s discernible processes are caused by an intelligent being—that we (i.e. the faithful) call God1—or by the presumed self-generated processes of natural evolution.2 This paper will argue that this, perhaps more adequately termed “finality vs. contingency”3 controversy concerning the motion of the natural world, at its root, is not bound to the specific doctrines of theology or the sciences, but more generally related to the question of how these two disciplines become aware of the natural world. Thus, at heart, the author believes that at the bottom of this debate lies an epistemological problem, i.e. how to understand and interpret the reality that nature exists in motion, develops and ostensibly evolves.

Nature as Irrational Object

Taking St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae, and here more specifically his five ways of the proof of God’s existence (Ia q. 2 a. 3 co.) as example for demonstrating the argument behind a generally accepted epistemology of nature,4 it first must be noticed that St. Thomas, in all five arguments, proceeds from sense experience (Certum est enim, et sensu constat, aliqua moveri in hoc mundo). Finally in the teleological line of reasoning of the fifth way he introduces what arguably turned into the enduring caesura between subject and object of knowledge. Thomas labels all natural objects as non habent cognitionem, thus deducing that all things operantur propter finem, must be directed by a being cognoscente et intelligente, i.e. called God.

Reasoning in this manner, Thomas prepared the ground for the single epistemological premise5 that theology and the sciences (most of the time presumably unconsciously) continue to employ in arguing and verifying their respective interpretations of the processes of and within nature. In one of his last articles on this subject, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn cites Thomas’ Commentaria in octo libros Physicorum as to demonstrate nature as ars divinae or in simple terms God bestowing finality to the natural world. Thus, Schönborn—representative for today’s employ of scholastic theology—concludes that as one cannot perceive of nature as rational, nature’s intelligent behavior must have an external cause, i.e. an intelligent being.6

In the dawn of the Enlightenment precluding this admittedly speculative assurance of nature’s purpose given by God, René Descartes’ skeptical reflection on human knowing, likewise keeps the res cogitans apart from the natural world or res extensa. While it reasonably can be assumed that natural objects exist, Descartes insists that they must not to be confused with the person’s knowing essence (cf. Med. VI, 9). Ostensibly based on this accepted ground of cognition, Immanuel Kant develops a more detailed account of the possibility of knowing nature in his Critique of Judgment.7 Kant’s epistemological approach can be seen as representative of any contemporary approach to the study of nature that does not ultimately resort to the data of revelation and the postulates of faith.

Paragraph 75 of the Critique of Judgment reads: “We are in fact indispensably obliged to ascribe the concept of design to nature if we wish to investigate it, though only in its organised products, by continuous observation.” The concept of design, therefore, is the necessary maxim of our use of reason. Further developing this maxim, Kant concludes that:

[For, since] we do not, properly speaking, observe the purposes in nature as designed, but only in our reflection upon its products thinkthis concept as a guiding thread for our Judgement, they are not given to us through the Object. 

The philosopher concludes at the end of the same paragraph:

We cannot therefore judge objectively, either affirmatively or negatively, concerning the proposition: “Does a Being acting according to design lie at the basis of what we rightly call natural purposes, as the cause of the world (and consequently as its author)?

Thus, Kant, like Descartes and Thomas—just to have mentioned some of the most influential thinkers for the modern science-religion debate—side by side present-day theology and the natural sciences affirm the absolute otherness of nature as an object, neither bestowed with intelligence nor cognition, and thus incapable of giving or revealing to the knowing subject true knowledge of itself.

Based on the aforementioned assessment that both, theology and the sciences categorically separate the knowing subject, i.e. the human person, from the object of knowledge, i.e. nature, one can indeed not find any other solution to the observation of purposiveness in nature than either being caused by God, or by nature itself and its laws, whether such are considered random or determinate.8 Thus, in the opinion of this author, the problem of nature’s finality or contingency has ultimately ended up in aporia in which any third possibility—though often proposed—has not yet found a legitimate and commonly recognized place.9 Any forged remedies to this problem, like simply equating nature’s laws and evolution to God’s continuing presence in nature, will legitimately earn stern criticism from scientists10 who—in the light of Kant—demand their observations to stay clear of religious metaphors, as well as from religious fundamentalism strictly adhering to a spirit-nature dualism.

Although throughout history the strict separation of person and nature was challenged by non-dualist archaic myths, mysticism, philosophy and theology the established domains of religious and scientific knowing unswervingly maintain this distinction, either because of reasons of doctrine,11 or on account of the integrity and proposed objectivity of the respective discipline.12 Thus in the end one perhaps has to agree with Ludwig Wittgenstein who maintains that if one is confronted with two rivaling worldviews that at heart are incompatible, one has to choose either one or the other, much like in the act of conversion toward a conviction that cannot be challenged on the grounds of reason.13

Then again, both theology and the sciences, while initially resistant to any blunt deviation from their doctrinal viewpoints,14 have come to realize that the ultimate conclusions of their epistemological hypotheses on nature remain wanting. Theology does recognize that nature’s teleological development to a great extent—if not entirely—follows the laws of mutation and selection,15 while on the other hand serious scientists do tend to leave behind Laplace’s belief that the future of the universe can completely be determined by scientific forecast.16

This paper proposes that while one cannot solve the above outlined dilemma within the accepted classical presuppositions of knowing, hereby referring to standard Aristotelian logic operating on the principle of non-contradiction,17 an innovative recourse to the subject—however on scientific grounds—will present a remedy. Theology definitively,18 and possibly the social sciences have already answered the analogous problem of the finality of the human person by introducing the notion of moral freedom.19 By possessing the faculties of reason and will, human persons experience themselves as free, at the same time being bound to the laws of nature. Thus purposeful, i.e. meaningful human behavior can be understood between two poles: freedom and determinateness.20

In this manner, this paper believes that a contribution to the question of finality vs. contingency involves, and is in need of two major advances: First, the proposal and presentation of a new epistemological approach to nature that while proceeding from the experience of nature as purposefully behaving object(s), seeks to understand this experience within the analogical experience of the knowing subject. Trans-Classical Systems Theory outlined by the late Austrian Physicist Alfred Locker21 will provide the theoretical foundation of this approach that can be regarded the endeavor to reach an inside or endo-view of nature.

Second, the attempt to bring the center of this experience, i.e. the notion of human freedom to bear on an understanding of nature’s behavior as meaningful. With regard to nature, the concept of “meaning” (Bedeutung) can be developed in view of its relationship to the subject, hereby aiming at a convergence of the viewpoints of theology and science. Natural processes understood as meaningful will reestablish the lost relationship of subject and object, and in this way invite for a new ethical reading of nature.

Systems Theory

General Systems Theory

The origins of General Systems Theory [GST] can be traced back to the Austrian biologist and polymath Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972),22 widely considered the founding father of synthetic biology, whose aim for the most part was to oppose the then dominant deterministic understanding of biological organisms.23 The concept of system—according to Kant the “idea of collective nature . . . in accordance with the rule of purposes, to which Idea all the mechanism of nature must be subordinated according to principles of Reason (at least in order to investigate natural phenomena therein)”24—offered von Bertalanffy the tool to argue that the sciences must understand nature and biological organisms not only in view of the mechanical function of their parts, but as a system that is constituted by its distinction from an environment and the definitive relationship of its properties to 1) one another, 2) the entire outside world, and 3) foremost the human person conceptually formulating and thus theoretically designing the system.25

GST established that systems though initially appearing in difference to their observer must likewise be seen as 1) subject-analogs, and 2) substance-analogs to their designer. Only by viewing a system in relationship to its designer (i.e. an observer involved in the conceptual recognition of the system), its Ganzheit or wholeness can be perceived. The true nature of a system, i.e. its totality or theoretical self (i.e. its true in opposition to its real nature) is more than simply the numerical sum of its individual parts.26 In this way von Bertalanffy not only presented a potent alternative to any apparent reductionism in the sciences, but he likewise opened up the natural sciences en route to acknowledge and dialogue with the humanities.

In sum, GST must rightly be acknowledged as the foundational theory bringing together scientific observations concerned with the object (G from the German Gegenstand) under investigation, and their conceptual presuppositions (V from the German Voraussetzungen). In this way GST opened up the search for a viable systems’ view or theory that can conceptually combine the objective proprieties of a system with the systems theory originating from its designer. GST thus sought to move general systems description from an ortho-level of classical description (G-level) to a meta-level (G+V-level) from where a system can be perceived in its entirety. Von Bertalanffy’s work, however, met an impasse as GST (pursued by practitioners drawing from Bertalanffy’s ideas) continued to rely upon classical concepts of systems description. In this way ruling out any systems depiction not falling under the perceptions of classical logic, GST, while rightly being acknowledged as a necessary force in new approaches to the general study of nature, remained widely underappreciated.27

Trans-Classical Systems Theory

One of the last personal friends and students of von Bertalanffy, the Austrian physicist Alfred Locker (1922-2005) believed that GST’s strengths could be retrieved if it leaves behind the constraints of classical scientific thinking.28 According to Locker, this could be achieved on the one hand by more clearly outlining the role of the observer of a system in view of the system’s perceivable nature, and on the other hand by introducing non-classical thinking to the propositions flowing from the meta-level of systems observation.29 Alfred Locker coined this advancement of GST Trans-Classical Systems Theory [TCST] first introducing this concept in the late eighties.30

Form Systems Observer to Participant

To begin with, TCST fully recognizes the limitations of any systems view derived on the basis of a detached systems observer. While an allegedly indifferent observer position naively promises objective insights about the system’s nature, it in fact violates the self of the system by 1) reducing it to an object31 that 2) is controlled by the very concepts of the observer uses to define it.32 In addition, the hereby assumed position of system-allology (i.e. complete otherness to the system) will erroneously suggest that there are neither substantial, nor essential links of the system to its observer, i.e. the human person. Such systems position, that can be deemed an exo-view of it, is always in danger to result in utter indifference and perhaps irresponsibility toward the system under observation.33

Alongside GST, TCST asserts that in reality any systems observer at the same time may be considered its designer. The process of design flows from the act of cognition in which various modes of understanding are introduced to the system. Hereby the designer formulates and explicates a systems theory according to which the system is conceptually constructed. This systems theory not only becomes the link between the designer and the system, but also establishes the system as analog to its designer in a twofold way; as subject-analog, the designer’s self is the systemic basis of his design. As substance-analog the essence of the designer, here referring to the understanding of the self, is part of the theory used to comprehend and interpret the system. Thus TCST will conclude that even a system that is perceived in absolute otherness to its designer (e.g. nature) in order to imply this otherness must contain properties analog to the designer.34

In establishing the relationship of the designer to the system, the limits of standard approaches to systems observation become apparent.35 The true designer more and more recognizes the need to likewise perceive of the system by way of intuition and imagination.36 This recognition is based on the fact that a designer cannot anymore claim to remain outside the system at all moments of its perception. As systems-analog the designer permeates the conceptual systems border hereby assuming the role of a functional part of the design. This inside, or endo-view of the system calls for an altogether new theoretical approach to it.37 TCST assumes that in an endo-view the system bestows its essence to the perceiver as integral part of it. However, this donation of the systems being38 results in images that cannot be understood with the tools of classical epistemology. The perceiver has to resort to imagination drawing from inner experiences, similar to those found within the system. A systems perception more and more yields insights that allow outlining a systems image that while grounded in reality, i.e. observation and design, describes its totality.

Within the attempt of formulating an increasingly holistic systems theory, the systems perceiver finally comes to realize that different positions assumed in view of the system not only generate different images of it, but also effect the notion of the self or essence of the system. At this moment, the perceiver recognizes his essential participation in the system and its influence on perceiving the notion of the system’s self. This insight proves itself of crucial importance to current debates in the field of systems theory.39

If, as TCST holds, the self of the system is intrinsically linked to the self of the designer, than the system’s self is a concept of lower order. Thus TCST remains hesitant to fully subscribe to concepts like self-reference or auto-poiesis as understood apart from the systems designer.40 Following this premise, notions like Artificial Intelligence designs are equally obscure. If intelligence refers to the process of design, hereby conceiving of the theory of the system in view of the self of the designer, no engineered system can fully obtain or even create such self.41 Equally unattainable would be the idea that biological systems gradually develop this self or any form of consciousness of it.42

Perhaps the real contribution of TCST can be found in arguing that in order to obtain a view of a system as whole (Ganzheit, Gestalt, totality) all four systems positions and views have to be taken together in forming an epistemological access system to any system in concern.43 Within the access system, all four system positions are obtained in an ever changing way in which observation-design-perception-participation form a dynamic circle of knowing. Any insight obtained from one systems position immediately seeks yet another view, leading to a new insight that suggests assuming another systems position.

It is at this point where TCST claims to advance the epistemological status of the study of nature as outlined in the introduction of this paper. With regard to Thomas and scholastic theology, TCST, on the basis of viewing nature and its access systems as analogs, believes in the possibility of arriving at a true inside view of the world.44 This inside view not only epistemologically intertwines the knowing subject and the objects of its cognition,45 but likewise assumes that nature itself exudes its purposiveness and meaning to the human mind. In this sense TCST surpasses Kant’s line of reasoning with regard to nature’s purposes and its causes, however only in view of their analogical occurrence in the access system, i.e. the knowing human person. Thus TCST truly believes to become a theoretical bridge between science, philosophy and theology.

Toward a Non-Classical Systems Theory: Introducing and Solving Paradoxes

On the basis of the aforementioned propositions proposing a new epistemological entry point to the understanding of nature, TCST recognizes the need for an altogether new systems theory. Then again, this theory cannot simply remain on the level of non-contradictory logic, but has to acknowledge and embrace those paradoxes that inevitably show themselves when one and the same system is seen from different exo and endo systems positions.46 In this way, however, TCST likewise overcomes what apparently already seems to be a paradox, i.e. that science and religion, both drawing from experience, postulate mutually excluding maxims. Thus, TCST, while initially giving the appearance to conflict with established theories of knowledge, ultimately hopes to provide for the convergence of world views.47

Freedom and Meaning in Nature – a Trans-Classical View

As a consequence of understanding nature from the outside, in the recent past theology decried that science simply dismisses the experience of free will as delusion.48 However, today’s scientific understanding of objectivity, dependency, and even randomness,49 all found in nature, allows for the conclusion that whereas “not being a feature of nature, freedom is carried out in nature.”50 As follows, the established science-faith dialogue avows nature as condition of freedom, hereby to some extent considering free process within nature, while however continuing to reject any sense of moral freedom, and consequently rationality in nature and natural occurrences.51

From this point of departure that arguably reveals that advanced science likewise proceeds from a designer view (shown in the adoption of the concept of freedom to the description of nature), TCST will further propose that if freedom is truly carried out in nature, nature itself accessed as system must be understood as containing properties related to a free self in analogy to the self assumed (cogito) by the knowing human person.52

Similarly envisioning a joint inside and outside view of the world, the Jesuit theologian and paleontologist Pére Teilhard the Chardin (1881-1955) equally recognizes that the absolute concept of the view without (i.e. the outside) of things “completely breaks down with the human person, in whom the existence of a within can no longer be evaded, because it is object of a direct intuition and the substance of all knowledge.”53 Teilhard reaches the conclusion that the previous and perhaps up to now upheld distinction of the determinate without, and the free within—as irreducible and incommensurable—must be overcome. He masterfully argues this dichotomy by recognizing the complementary forms of physical and spiritual energy of all that is, i.e. the cosmos, as bridging this gap that for centuries forcefully separated God from nature. Teilhard finally concludes that “spiritual perfection (or conscious ‘centreity’) and material synthesis (or complexity) are but the two aspects or connected parts of one and the same phenomenon.”54

Teilhard’s insights draw from the genuine Christian experience that true moral freedom rests on spiritual freedom that cannot fully be attained by human merits, but is bestowed on the believer as Grace by virtue of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, and received through baptism. This tradition with regard to “freedom in Christ” first has been articulated by St. Paul (cf. Gal 2:4; 5:1.13) in assuming that through the Resurrection “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious freedom (evleuqeri,a) of the children of God,” (Rom 8:21). On the basis of Paul’s assertion, the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) rightly concludes in his famous commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “if men are free, the world must be free also.”55

Having postulated a free world, TCST must equally assume that freedom found within the world to a minimal degree implies moral freedom. Whereas this assumption certainly cannot lead to the affirmation of the postulates of neo-Platonsim, i.e. that the whole world contains a rational soul, TCST would indeed agree with St. Thomas’ understanding of souls, and of animals and plants.56

More important, however, is that such understanding is always linked to and depending on the fact of seeing the systems designer as participant and even constituent of the system in concern. In view of the notion of freedom, this means that free acts in nature only obtain true, i.e. moral freedom, if they are seen in relation to a human person participating in the processes and actions of nature. Acknowledging this participation, then leads to the need to articulate the meaning of these actions, rather than to simply describe them as processes.

The Meaning of Nature

Alls systems can be studied in view of their behavior and goal(s). TCST, however, assumes that systems goals, neither can be exhaustively defined by laws and principles found to operate within the system or by its supposed or real origin or design (i.e. a teleo-nomic systems view), nor by its particular reaction to various events or influences (teleo-zetic systems view). Only a view of the system’s Ganzheit (hereby joining observer and observation) reveals its capacity to set goals for itself in view of pursuing a particular aim or purpose.57 This teleo-genetic systems view allows for recognizing freedom in nature as intrinsically linked to its goal. Then again, this goal might not simply be described as an end-point towards which the system moves, but as the system’s capacity to behave meaningful in view of humankind. That means that in TCST, nature, within the experience of human freedom, can be comprehended as meaningfully acting system. The meaning of nature, however, eludes mere scientific description in favor of expressions of human experiences, like beauty and pleasure, or fear and suffering.

An example of how in view of an ethics of animal experiments this notion of “meaning” can apply to nature can likewise be found in the work of Alfred Locker. Remaining critical of the naïve conjectures of evolutionism (Evolutionslehre) throughout his entire life,58 he explains in a lecture given in 1986 that the notions of empirical and intelligible freedom must be strictly separated.59 While the latter refers to human actions, the former can, for example, be attributed to animals, who guided by instinct cannot truly be called free, i.e. being deemed as capable of reaching moral decisions.

Then again, eighteen years later, and on the basis of a refined account of TCST, Locker adds to the above view, that from a meta-level of systems cognition, this apparent opposition between subject (human person) and object (animal) can be overcome by seeing all creatures in complementary unity to the human person.60 Hereby forging a lasting unity of creation and all creatures, he explains that any creature seen in its Gestalt obtains a self. It is this self on an animal that is affected, and eventually suffers in the case of experiments.

Alfred Locker concludes his thoughts stating:

The differentiation between a sacrifice (spiritually surrendering for a greater good) and a victim (involuntarily subjected to sufferings) reveals that the experimental animal primarily belongs to the latter. But it can be elevated to the former when the full meaning of its suffering becomes obvious. The same holds true for “human testing,” if, in contrast to the formidable atrocities, e.g. of concentration camps, the momentum of voluntariness is guaranteed, as pioneers of medial research frequently demonstrated by carrying out experiments on themselves.61


To sum up, a systems theoretical understanding of freedom in nature will neither be able to simply conclude that there is a single design to nature, nor that all its processes are random or determinate, but that the complementary aspects of freedom found in nature to human freedom, attest to its meaningful activities. In this way, not only nature and humanity can enter into a new existential relationship, but the human person will truly recognize its constitutive role in the purposiveness of nature. Thus it is hoped that the notion of meaning in nature might play a new reconciling role in the science-religion conversation.



1 Summa Theologiae, Ia q. 2 a. 3 co.

2 Among many others this debate is kept alive by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, “Finding Design in Nature,” NYT, July 7, 2005, available from:; “The Designs of Science,” Copyright (c) 2006 First Things (January 2006).<available from: ; Ziel oder Zufall? Schöpfung und Evolution aus der Sicht eines vernünftigen Glaubens (Wien: Herder Verlag, 2007).

3 Ordinarily this controversy is presented with referring to the notions of intelligent design and random evolution.

4 Likewise in the Summa, art. I, qu. 2, Thomas speaks of irrationalis natura and irrationalis creatura vis-à-vis the rational human person.

5 Perhaps is could likewise be argued that the emergence of the opposition of strict reason versus empathy and suffering is linked to the birth of tragedy and the coming of rationality found in Euripides and Socrates. Cf. Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik, 1872).

6 Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, “Fides, Ratio, Scientia. Zur Evolutionismusdebatte.” Lecture of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn during an alumni gathering in Castel Gandolfo, Sept. 1-3, 2006, p. 6, available from:

7 Translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernhard, 2nd revised edition (London: Macmillan, 1914), available from:

8 Catholic Encyclopedia, online edition, “nature,” available from:

9 Karl Rahner writes more than 20 years ago “Die Schultheologie macht sich ja wenig Gedanken darüber, daß die Materie vom Ursprung und Ziel her doch sehr ‚geistig’ sein muß, wenn ihr Schöpfer absoluter Geist ist und gar nicht Ursache von etwas sein kann, das schlechthin geistlos ist.” Karl Rawer and Karl Rahner, “Weltall-Erde-Mensch,” in Franz Böckle,, Christlicher Glaube in moderner Gesellschaft, vol. 3 (Freiburg: Herder, 1981), p. 48

10 Cf. for example Kenneth R. Miller, “The cardinal’s big mistake: Darwin didn’t contradict God,” The Providence Journal (August 10, 2005), available from:

11 Quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia: “If the universe were “informed” by a principle of life, there would not be that essential difference between inanimate and animate bodies which both science and philosophy establish; inanimate bodies would manifest signs of life, such as spontaneous and immanent activity, organs, etc. The materialistic principle, “No matter without force, no force without matter” (Büchner), though, with some obvious qualification, true as to its first part, is untrue as to its second. Force is the proximate principle of action, and may be or not be, but it is not of necessity conjoined with matter. The principle of action in man is not intrinsically dependent on matter. s.v. “creation.”

12 “When the French physicist Pierre Simon de Laplace explained his theory of the universe to Napoleon, Napoleon is said to have asked, “Where does God fit into your theory?” to which Laplace replied, “I have no need of that hypothesis.” Taken from Theodore Schick, Jr., “Can Science Prove that God Does Not Exist?” Free Inquiry Magazine, 21/ 1, available from


13 “Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, the each man declares the other a fool or heretic.” “At the end of reason comes persuasion. (Think of what happens when missionaries convert natives).” Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty Edited by G.M.E. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright(New York: Harper & Row, 1972) § 611. 612.


15 John Paul II writes: “In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points….Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies — which was neither planned nor sought — constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.” (Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution)

16Stephen Hawkins, „Does God play Dice?” available from:

17 Metaphysics, Γ 3-4.

18 Summa, qu. I, art. 3. (Iª-IIae q. 1 a. 3 co) “Et utroque modo actus humani, sive considerentur per modum actionum, sive per modum passionum, a fine speciem sortiuntur. Utroque enim modo possunt considerari actus humani, eo quod homo movet seipsum, et movetur a seipso.”

19 Marc D. Hauser, Moral Minds. How Nature Designed Our Universal Norms of Right and Wrong (New York: Harper Collins, 2006).

20 Wim Smit, “Free Will and Determinism,” Intersymp 2005 (IIAS: Baden-Baden, 2005).

21 Markus Locker, “Glimpses of Truth. An Obituary for Alfred Locker,” Cybernetics and Human Knowing 12/3 (2005) 103-5. “Obituary Alfred Locker,” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 22/6 (Nov/Dec 2005) 571-575. Richard Jung, “Alfred Locker. An Obituary,” Kybernetes 34 no. 9/10 (2005) 1665-1666. J. H. Pichler, „Alfred Locker Im Gedenken,“ Gnostika (2006) 59.

22Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Theoretische Biologie, vol. 1 & 2 (Berlin: Bornträger, 1932/40); Robots, Men and Minds (New York: Braziller, 1967); General Systems Theory. Foundations, Development, Applications (New York: Braziller, 1968); The Organismic Psychology and Systems Theory (Worcester, 1968); Perspectives on General Systems Theory. Scientific-Philosophical Studies, E. Taschdjian, eds., (Braziller: New York, 1975); A Systems View of Men (Boulder: P. A. LaViolette, 1981) and Perspectives on General Systems Theory. Scientific-Philosophical Studies, E. E. Taschdjian, ed., (Braziller: New York: 1975). See also Mark Davidson, Qu$rDenken! Leben und Werk Ludwig von Bertalanffys (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2005).

23Ernst Taux, “Die Verwendung erkenntnistheoretischer Begriffe in der theoretischen Biologie Uexkülls und Bertalanffys,” in Johann-Peter Schramm and Engelbert Schramm, eds., Wissenschaft der Wendezeit – Systemtheorie der Alternative (Frankfurt, A.G. Fischer, 1988): 83-8.

24Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard, 2nd revised edition (London: Macmillan, 1914), § 67.

25When von Ludwig von Bertalanffy [the founding father of systems theory] spoke of Allgemeine Systemtheorie it was consistent with his view that he was proposing a new perspective, a new way of doing science. It was not directly consistent, however, with an interpretation often presented concerning “general system theory,” to wit, that it is a (scientific) “theory of general systems.” See Erwin Lazlo, forewordto Perspectives on General Systems Theory, by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, ed. Edgar Taschdjian (New York: Braziller, 1974), 30. [A collection of essays gathered together and published two years after his death in 1972.].

26Ludwig von Bertalanffy, “Wandlung des Biologischen Denkens,“ in Neue Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Jugendbildung, 10 (1934): 352.

27 Alfred Locker, “Horizontale und vertikale Relationalität des Menschen: Differenz und Einheit jenseits der Beobachter-Perspektive.” In Die Biopsychosoziale Einheit Mensch – Begegnungen: Festschrift für K.-Fr. Wessel, ed. F. Kleinhempel, Anette Möbius, H.-U. Soschinka, and M. Waßermann, 408-16. Kleine: Bielefeld, 1996.

28 Alfred Locker, “On The Ontological Foundations of the Theory of Systems,” in Unity Through Diversity: A Festschrift for Ludwig von Bertalanffy, ed. W. Gray and N.D. Rizzo (London/New York: Gordon & Breach, 1973), 537-71.

29 Alfred Locker, “The Autological Foundation and Actualization of Peace: The Role of the Observer and the Designer in the Peace Paradox.” In Advances in Sociocybernetics and Human Development IV, ed. G.E. Lasker, 1-11. Windsor/Ontario: IIAS, 1998.

30 Cf. Alfred Locker, “Recent Approach to Transclassical Systems-Theory. The Paradoxical Unity of Science with Non- and Super-Science,” in Georg Lasker gen. ed. Advances in Systems Research and Cybernetics, vol. III (Windsor: IIAS, 1998): 11-16; “The Present Status of Classical Systems Theory, 25 Years after Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s Decease,” in George Lasker, gen. ed., Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Engineering Cybernetics, vol. V (Windsor: IIAS, 1999): 8-16.

31 Alfred Locker, “Der Mensch im Angesicht suggestiver Verführung.” Österreichische Ärztegesellschaft 42 (18/1978): 35-8.

32 Markus Locker, [il y a]or The Withdrawal to the Portal of Being. A systems-theoretical Appraisal of Emmanuel Levinas’ “path out of being,” MA Thesis (Ateneo de Manila University, 2006), pp. 68-87.

33 Alfred Locker, “The Healing of Mankind’s Predicaments Through Suffering: A Paradoxical View, based on Transclassical Systems Theory,“ in Life and Healing: Healing of Nature, Healing Our Civilization and Healing Humankind. Proceedings, vol. 2. Third Yoko Civilization International Conference (Takayama: Yoko Civilization Research Institute, 1999), 131-52.

34 Alfred Locker, “Horizontale und vertikale Relationalität des Menschen. Differenz und Einheit jeneseits der Beobachter-Perspektive,” in Festschrift for H. Wessel (Berlin 1999).

35 Alfred Locker, “‘Grenzen des Wissens’—hauptsächlich menschengemacht.” Ethik und Sozialwissenschaft 4 (1/1993): 48-51.

36 Alfred Locker, “Der Mensch: Nicht unbeteiligter Zuschauer, sondern Mitgestalter am Weltgeschehen. Die Bedeutung von Meditation und Ekstase als Transklassche Mittel dazu,” Gnostika 2 (1998): 34-42.

37 Cf. Otto E. Rössler, “Endophysics – Descartes Taken Seriously,” in A. Atmanspacker and G.J. Dalenoort, gen eds., Inside Versus Outside. Endo- and Exo-Concepts of Observation and Knowledge in Physics, Philosophy and Cognitive Science (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1994), pp. 154-162.

38Cf. Here referring to the work of Jean-Luc Marion in Markus Locker, “Systems Theory and the Conundrum of ens: Thoughts and Aphorisms.” Foundations of Science 11 (2006): 297-317.

39 Alfred Locker “Der Mensch: Nicht unbeteiligter Zuschauer, sondern Mitgestalter am Weltgeschehen. Die Bedeutung von Meditation und Ekstase als transklassischen Mitteln dazu.” Gnostica 2 (3/1998): 34-42.

40 Alfred Locker, “Metatheoretical Presuppositions for Autopoiesis. Self-Reference and ‘Autopoiesis’.” In Autopoiesis: A Theory of Living Organization, Series Vol.3., ed. M. Zeleny, 209-33. Elsevier, North Holland/New York: Oxford, 1981.

41 Markus Locker, “A.I. and Ethics: A Language Philosophical Question and Systems Theoretical Reply.” In Cognitive, Emotive and Ethical Aspects of Decision Making in Humans and Artificial Intelligence. Vol. III, ed. Iva Smit, et. al., 63-8. Windsor, Ontario, Canada: IIAS, 2004.

42 Alfred Locker, “Selbstentstehung von Leben und Vernunft-ein Trugschluss (Die Unhaltbarkeit von Genesemodellen).” In Überlieferung und Aufgabe: Festschrift fuer Erich Heintel zum 70. Geburtstag. Vol 2., ed. H. Nagl-Dolecal, 33-69. Vienna: Wilhelm Braumueller, 1981.Also Robert Spämann, “Sein und Gewordensein. Was erklärt die Evolutionstheorie?” in Robert Spämann gen.ed, Evolutionstheorie und menschliches Selbstverständnis. Zur Philosophischen Kritik eines Paradigmas moderner Wissenschaft. CIVITAS Resultate, vol. 6 (Weinheim: Acta humanoria, 1984), pp. 73-92.

43 The notion of access system is further outlined in M. Locker, Conundrum, 300.

44 Markus Locker, “Systems-Theoretical Considerations on the Role of the Observer in the Human Phenomenon: Viewing the Universe from Within.” E-conference proceedings: Teilhard_Asia_2006. Manila, August 1 to September 31, 2006, 7 pp. on-line, available from

45 Alfred Locker, “Kybernetik und Systemtheorie als metatheoretische Brücken zwischen Einzelwissenschaften und Philosophie.” In Kybernetik und Systemtheorie. Wissensgebiete der Zukunft, ed. E. v. Goldammer, H. Spranger, S. Fuchs, 23-43. Wessels: Greven, 1991.

46 Markus Locker, “Reviving Paradoxes: Transclassical Systems Theory as Meta-theory for a Science-Faith Dialogue.” E-conference proceedings: Continuity and Change 2006. Philadelphia, June 2006, on-line, available from Cf. Arno Schöppe, Theroieparadox. Kreativität als systemische Herausforderung (Heidelberg: Carl-Auer-Systeme-Verlag, 1995) and here especially § 3.3 “Die Beobachtung des Beobachters. Eine systemtheoretische Metabetrachtung,” pp. 240-255.

47 Alfred Locker, “Recent Approach to Trans-Classial Systems Theory. The Paradoxical Unity of Science with Non- and Super-Science.” In Advances in Systems Res. & Cybernetics, Vol. III, ed. G.E. Lasker, 11-6. Windsor/Ontario: IIAS, 1998.

48 Cf. Charles H. Townes, “Logic and Uncertainties in Science and Religion,” in Ted Peters, Science and Theology. The New Consonance (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1998), p. 53

49 Alec MacAndrew, “Life: Puppetry or Pageantry? A response to Cardinal Schönborn’s attack on science,” available from

50 Dieter Hattrup, “Freedom as Shadow Play of Chance and Necessity,” E-conference proceedings: Continuity and Change 2006. Philadelphia, June 2006, on-line, available from

51 Jürgen Bereiter-Hahn, “Biologische Vorbedingung für die Ermöglichung freier Willensentscheidung,” in Gotthard Fuchs and Hans Kessler, eds. Gott, der Kosmos und die Freiheit. Biologie, Philosophie und Theologie im Gespräch (Würzburg: Echter,1996), pp. 31-57.

52 Alfred Locker, “On the Origin of Systems and the Role of Freedom Therein.” In Proc. Silver Anniversary Intern. Meeting of the Soc. Gen. Systems Research, London, U.K. Aug.20-24, 1979, ed. R.F. Ericson, 95-103. New York: Springer, 1979.

53 Pére Theilhard de Chardin, The Human Phenomenon, translated by Bernard Will and introduced by Sir Julian Huxley (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 55. Hereinafter referred to as HP.

54 HP, p. 60

55 Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, Translated from the 6th German edition [Römerbrief] by Edwyn C. Hoskyns ( London; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 310.

56 At this point, this paper continues Fergus Kerr’s assumption that one can conclude from a form of life to its essence. Cf. Fergus Kerr, Theology after Wittgenstein (New York: Blackwell, 1988), pp. 176-7.

57 Alfred Locker, “Predicaments,” 131.

58 Alfred Locker, , gen. ed. Biogenesis, evolution, homeostasis; a symposium by correspondence (Berlin, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1973); gen. ed. Evolution kritisch gesehen (Salzburg : A. Pustet, 1983); “‘Evolution’- Ein faszinierender Ungedanke: Versuch und Misslingen einer Gestalt-Usurpation.” Zeitschrift für Ganzheitsforschung (Neue Folge) 26 (l/1982): 17-39; “Schöpfungs- und Evolutions-Problematik in system-theoretisch klassischer und transklassischer Sicht: Der Mensch im Widerspruch der Außen- und Innen-Beobachtung sowie der Mitgestaltung von Ursprung und Ziel.” In Evolution im Diskurs: Grenzgespräche zwischen Naturwissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie, ed. A.J. Bucher and D. St. Peters, 217-50. Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1998.

59 Alfred Locker, “Evolutionstheorie – Wissenschaft oder Ideologie,” (Manuscript of a lecture delivered on February 1986 to the Political Academy of the ÖVP) p. 20.

60 Alfred Locker, “Tierversuchs-Ethik und der ‚Menschenversuch.’ Gedanken zum Umgang mit dem Tier,” Altex 21 (4/2004): 221-226.

61 A. Locker, “Tierversuchs-Ethik,” p. 221.