Short works

Books : reviews

James Grier Miller.
Living Systems.
University Press of Colorado. 1978

Now in paperback, James Grier Miller's groundbreaking Living Systems presents an integrated, multidisciplinary analysis of the nature of all biological and social systems. Firmly rooted in current scientific knowledge, Living Systems shows how biological and social systems are organized and operate at each of seven hierarchical levels: cells, organs (composed of cells), organisms (independent life forms), groups (families, committees, working groups, etc.), organizations (communities, cities, corporations, universities, etc.), societies or nations, and supranational systems.

Offering a detailed analysis of each of the major aspects and characteristics encountered at all seven levels, Living Systems identifies multiple variables of each of 9 matter-energy and information-processing subsystems, the normal and pathological states of these variables, and practical indicators for measuring changes in them. It also specifies cross-level formal identities among the levels and describes the artifacts, machines, or technologies at each level. Presenting a wide range of examples, the author shows how the interactions of matter-energy and information flow among systems at one level create the next higher level. He also demonstrates the fascinating unity of the world's living and non-living systems as well as the feasibility of a unified science to study them.