Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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Human development project: summary


The purpose of this project is to describe briefly the complete range of concepts of human development with which people identify, consider meaningful or reject in their search for growth and fulfilment in life. The scope of this project has been deliberately extended beyond the unrelated concepts accepted with great caution by intergovernmental agencies: the job-fulfilment orientation of ILO, the health-oriented concepts of WHO and the education-oriented concepts of UNESCO. It includes concepts legitimated by the psychological and psychoanalytical establishments as well as those promoted by the various contemporary growth movements. It also includes concepts from religions and from belief systems of different cultures. Entries are included on explicit concepts of human development and on therapies, activities or experiences in which a particular understanding of human development is implicit.


The database incluides  4,456 entries. It is divided into two sub-databases: Section HH and Section HM. Section HH describes 1,407 concepts of human development. Section HM endeavours to describe 3,049 modes of awareness, namely the experiential states associated with different stages in the process of human development as perceived by different groups (and preferably using wording with which such groups would identify).

The entries have been interlinked by 15,237 cross-references. These either indicate relationships between more general or more specific concepts, or, especially in Section HM, the relationship between succeeding modes of awareness in some process of human development (whether linear or cyclical).


The procedures used in preparing this section are discussed in detail in a commentary.


Detailed comments are provided in the commentary.

This section indicates ways in which people struggle within themselves for fulfilment and the experiences associated with that struggle which they find meaningful (whether or not such experiences are considered totally deluded or inappropriate by different scientific or religious establishments). That many of these experiences cannot be effectively "put into words" is indicated by the use of metaphors or symbols in naming them. These appear as strange to Western eyes as do others to Eastern cultures.


Entries in this section are also cross-referenced from the section on Human Values and Wisdom (Section V) on the basis of value words in the body of the text of the human development entries (constructive value words, Section VC; destructive value words, Section VD).


Bibliographical references, by author, are given in Section HY.


The contents of this section may be considered as complementing the other sections in ways such as the following:

  • Integrative knowledge: By the manner in which advances in the integration of knowledge are paralleled by integration of the individual and of society and require such integration in order to be meaningful.
  • World problems: By the manner in which human development is frustrated and impeded by world problems, and through the world problems engendered by the unbalanced pursuit of particular forms of human development (or by the conflict between different forms of human development).
  • Metaphors and patterns: By the manner in which human development options are communicated, and through the evolution of new forms of communication following efforts to communicate new insights into human development possibilities.
  • Transformative approaches: By the importance of taking into consideration different modes of human development in designing techniques to be of relevance to people with different needs and modes of response.
  • Human values: By the manner in which values acquire their significance through the pursuit of different modes of human development and through the association of many specific modes of awareness with the experience of particular values (see cross-references in Section V to human development).