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Sustainability. The complex interactions among the different dimensions of sustainable development. Environmental and Community Sustainability A Christian Perspective

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Sustainability

The complex interactions among the different dimensions of sustainable development


  • Environmental and Community Sustainability

  • A Christian Perspective

    • Sustainability is a major possible application area for Christian / Dooyeweerdian philosophy, especially his notion of irreducible aspects.

    • It recognizes the special nature and responsibility of humankind while seeking holistic balance with all the Creation. It promises to avoid the extremes of, on the one hand, 'deep ecology', and on the other, seeing it all in financial terms - or any other extremes that might appear.

    • Understanding Sustainability

    • The basic notion is based on the Shalom Hypothesis, that if we function well in all aspects, in harmony, then there will be positive benefit for all, both human and non-human, both individual and community/society, both short and long term. If the Hypothesis is correct, then any poor functioning in any aspect will jeopardize overall sustainability.


  • For example, obviously, if we threaten our ability to feed ourselves or keep healthy then sustainability suffers, if our economy collapses, then sustainability suffers. But, less obviously, if the social climate is one of hatred, the moral climate is one of selfishness, or the community or society has zero morale, then here too perhaps sustainability could suffer.

  • This is because the aspects:

    • -are irreducible to each other, and hence we cannot afford to ignore any but must attend to all,

    • -are intertwined, so that each contains echoes of the others and later aspects depend on earlier ones - in short, interconnectedness!


The Shalom Hypothesis ourselves or keep healthy then sustainability suffers, if our economy collapses, then sustainability suffers. But, less obviously, if the social climate is one of hatred, the moral climate is one of selfishness, or the community or society has zero morale, then here too perhaps sustainability could suffer.

What is Good? What is Success, Prosperity, Health, Well-Being, etc? What is Evil, Failure, Destitution, Sickness, etc.? Does it relate only to the individual, or can (should) it relate also to others, and even to the whole of Creation? Does it relate to Sustainability? What about the high failure rate of information system? These are questions that what we call the Shalom Hypothesis tries to address.

There is no single English word for what we are talking about. So, instead we use the Hebrew word shalom, which speaks of this holistic, full, rich well-being, often translated 'peace', but with strong root meaning of 'whole' or 'complete'.

The Shalom Hypothesis is based in, and is a consequence of, Dooyeweerd's notion of aspects and its religious root.


The Hypothesis ourselves or keep healthy then sustainability suffers, if our economy collapses, then sustainability suffers. But, less obviously, if the social climate is one of hatred, the moral climate is one of selfishness, or the community or society has zero morale, then here too perhaps sustainability could suffer.

Dooyeweerd's notion is that

We function in all (or most) aspects, responding to their laws. That is, our human living is multi-aspectual in nature. There are repercussions of our functioning, in each aspect.

If we go with the laws of an aspect then the repercussions will be positive and will promote success, prosperity, health, etc. in that aspect, whereas if we go against the laws of an aspect then the repercussions will be negative in that aspect.

Since all aspects are irreducible, the total repercussion of any activity will be the bringing together of repercussions in all aspects.

Therefore for optimum success, prosperity etc. in the broadest sense, we should function well in every aspect.

Functioning poorly in any aspect jeopardizes the sustainability, success of the whole.


Use of the Hypothesis ourselves or keep healthy then sustainability suffers, if our economy collapses, then sustainability suffers. But, less obviously, if the social climate is one of hatred, the moral climate is one of selfishness, or the community or society has zero morale, then here too perhaps sustainability could suffer.

Therefore we might evaluate a situation according to our total functioning in each aspect. Visually, we can then plot a summary of this as an Aspect Tree as follows:


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