Functional Morphology:

The Dynamic Wholeness of the Human Organism(2 customer eviews)
by Johannes W. Rohen
Adonis Press, 2007
ISBN 978-0932776-36-5
8.5 x 11 inches
hardcover; 429 pages; $75.00



Book Description

Physicians around the world are familiar with Johannes Rohen’s books on human anatomy. In this his last major work, Rohen presents the fruits of his lifelong study of the human organism. Viewing the various organs and organ systems in the context of the organism as a dynamic whole, Rohen arrives at new and profound insights. This book significantly supplements and expands the concepts of general anatomy and offers a new basis for approaching the interaction of body and soul. It not only conveys information but also awakens the reader’s astonishment and joy at the unique nature of the human being.

In this encompassing book, Rohen discusses such topics as:
  • How the human organism—as a whole, and in every part—is structured by a fundamental polarity that manifests as:

                                                           form ↔ movement,

                         central nervous system ↔ metabolism,

                            information exchange ↔ material processes,

                                          consciousness ↔ unconsciousness,

and how these polarities are mediated by rhythmical functions such as those found in the respiratory and circulatory systems.

  • How the central nervous system can be understood as an instrument of consciousness but not as the producer of consciousness.
  • The unique relationship between the human body and the three dimensions of space.
  • How a dynamic view of the human body can reveal surprising relationships between organs and organ systems. 
  • Significant embryological and evolutionary aspects of the human organism.

Review

THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE -- Volume 14, Number 7, 2008, pp. 855–856

Functional Morphology, The Dynamic Wholeness of the Human Organism

by Johannes W. Rohen, M.D.

Johannes W. Rohen’s remarkable book opens with the question, “Is our human organism—or any organism for that matter—merely the result of millions of physicochemical reactions, or are there structural, morphological principles that integrate these individual events into a living, dynamic whole?”

Dr. Rohen, now in his 80s, is well known to medical students and anatomists worldwide for his Color Atlas of Anatomy: A Photographic Study of the Human Body, one of the most widely used anatomy texts, currently in its sixth edition. During his long and productive career as Professor of Anatomy, Rohen describes a parallel lifetime endeavor “to understand functional relationships, living wholes, and qualitative aspects” of the human organism. He pursued the discipline of phenomenology and the organic scientific method originated by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe1 and elucidated by Rudolf Steiner.2 In this book, we have the fruit of his decades of quiet, inspired efforts to describe human structure in a way that overcomes one-sided reductionist thinking, while holding to the spirit of scientific inquiry. Functional Morphology does not describe the human body part by part. Relationships between structures become as illuminating as the structures in themselves. We are asked, not to sit back with only our left brains in gear, but to participate in the concepts described: to contemplate them, and see if they come to life within us. In this way, the parts gradually reveal themselves in relation to the whole.

Dr. Rohen’s central concept is the threefold structuring principle, originated by Steiner.  In the first section of Functional Morphology, Rohen shows how the human body is arranged so that the informational (and informational, or form-conveying) functions are centered in the head and the nervous system. Processing of material—nutrition, storage, and elimination—is centered in the metabolic system in the abdominal cavity. Transportation, distribution, and mediation between these two poles take place anatomically between those poles, in the organs of the chest, heart, and lungs, via the functions of circulation and gas exchange for which they are responsible. He shows how this overarching organizing principle runs from the whole skeleton and whole organ-systems, right down to the organization of each of the body’s cells.

Subsequent sections deal in detail with each of the three divisions, showing how, if we are willing to look and to see precisely how the body is composed, a world of integrated form and function is revealed. Here is one example among many. The author describes the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), showing in beautifully worked-out detail how this one division of the nervous system is further divided in a threefold manner: the more “informational” aspect of the hypothalamus and limbic systems of the brain; the ANS’ nerves in the spine, which are rhythmically segmented, and most closely associated with breathing and heart, that is, belonging to the rhythmic system; and the diffuse, unconscious, plexuses (such as the solar plexus) connected with the metabolic organs, which are least “informational” in character. 

In the course of a nuanced discussion of the pituitary and pineal glands, Rohen writes, “Discovering such connections is a slow process, more intuitive than factual.” He could not make such a statement if his book were not very well supported by the facts of anatomy, in which he is utterly expert. 

His book, therefore, offers the reader an unusually well grounded exercise in infusing our step-by-step, analytic style of knowledge with a sober opening to intuition. It is an extraordinary, pioneering work in this regard. 


The final section, on evolution with reference to the human spirit, should have been left out. Unlike the rest of the book, this chapter consists of speculative ideas, insufficiently supported by evidence. Furthermore, while they may have merit, Rohen’s ideas could be misinterpreted as a fundamentalist- style “intelligent design” theory, and could potentially blind readers to a fair appraisal of the rest. The remainder of the book is too solid and too important to have taken this risk with material that could easily be presented in another context.

This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in going beyond a reductionist scientific and medical paradigm. It should be given to every medical student with any aspirations toward holism.

References

1. Bortoft H. The Wholeness of Nature, Goethe’s Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature. Hudson, NY: Lindesfarne Press, 1996.

2. Steiner R. Goethean Science. Spring Valley, NY: Mercury Press, 1988.

Alicia Landman-Reiner, M.D.


Contents

 

Introduction XIII

Author’s Preface XV

BASIC CONCEPTS AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF FORM

Introductory Epistemological Remarks ..............................................................................................3 

Seeing as an Example of Sensory and Cognitive Processes 4 

Perceiving and Thinking 9 

The Goethean Scientific Method 10 

Branches of Human Morphology 12

General Principles of Form.................................................................................................................14 

The Functional Threefoldness of the Human Organism 14 

Basic Functions in the Human Body 16 

The Functional Threefoldness of the Human Body 19 

The Functional Threefoldness of the Cell 22 

Functional Threefoldness and the Human Soul 23 

Structural Principles in the Human Body and Qualitaties of the Dimensions of Space 26 

The Right-Left Dimension 26 

The Up-Down Dimension 28 

The Front-Back Dimension 28 

Functional Differentiations within Dimensional Structural Principles 30 

The Temporal Structure of the Human Body—Qualitative Aspects of Space and Time 35 

Human Embryological Development: Steps in Taking Hold of the Dimensions of Space 37 

Conception 37 

Structural Stages of Embryonic Development 43 

Qualitative Differences in the First Four Stages of Embryonic Development 46 

Human Embryonic Development and Placentation 48 

The Development of Internal Organ Systems in the Body 59 

Spiritual-Scientific Aspects of Embryonic Development 62 

Prior Stages of the Earth’s Evolution 62 

A Comparison of Human Embryonic Development and the Earth’s Evolution 63

Phylogenetic Processes………………………………………………………………...............................64

Incremental Mastery of the Dimensions of Space in Vertebrate Evolution 64 

Limb Evolution 64 

Head Evolution 65 

Human Consciousness and the Experience of Space 67 

Adaptation and Antiadaptation as Evolutionary Principles 69 

Adaptive and Antiadaptive Processes 71 

The Evolution of the Skull and Head 74 

Antiadaptation and Orthogenesis as Evolutionary Principles 84

THE METABOLIC-LIMB SYSTEM

The Musculoskeletal System .............................................................................................................87 

The Structure of the Skeletal System 87 

The System of Active Movement (Muscles and Joints) 100 

Joints and Sutures 100 

Functional Threefoldness of the Muscular System 103 

Muscles as Intermediaries between Blood and Nerves 111 

Movement as a Threefold Psycho-Physical Process 112

The Metabolic System and Digestive Organs………………………………………............................115 

Basic Metabolic Processes 115 

The Functional Significance of Metabolism 119 

Functional Subdivision of the Digestive Tract 120 

The Hepatobiliary System 125 

The Biliary System and Hemoglobin Metabolism 131

The Immune System, Lymphatic Organs, and Spleen ..................................................................135 

General Organization of the Immune System 135 

The Lymphatic Organs and the Lymph System 137 

The Spleen 140 

Liver, Biliary System, and Spleen: The Organ Trinity of the Upper Abdomen 142

The Urogenital System: The Organs of Excretion and Reproduction .........................................145 

Morphology of the Urinary System (Kidneys) 145 

Ontogeny and Phylogeny of the Urinary System 149 

The Phylogenetic Development of the Kidneys 153 

Morphology and Development of the Reproductive Organs 156 

Development of the Gonads 160

THE ORGANS OF THE RHYTHMIC SYSTEM

Blood and the Organs of Circulation ..............................................................................................165 

Functional Threefoldness of the Circulatory System 165 

The Lymphatic Vascular System and the Body’s Fluid System 168 

Blood and Bone Marrow 169 

The Heart 174 

The Ontogenetic Development of the Heart and the Dimensions of Space 174 

Cardiac Development and the Dimensions of Space 175 

Development of the Cardiac Tube 176 

Septation of the Cardiac Tube and the Right-Left Dimension 178 

The Heart and the Front-Back Dimension 181 

The Function of the Heart 182 

Phylogenetic Development of the Heart and Circulatory System 185 

Centralization 185 

Concentration 191 

Fetal Circulation 197 

The Empirical Principle in the Evolution of the Circulatory System 199

The Respiratory System .................................................................................................................. 201

The Connection between the Respiratory and Digestive Systems 

(First Archetypal Phenomenon) 201 

Lung Development and Respiration 204

Respiratory Rhythm (Second Archetypal Phenomenon) 206 

Human Chronobiological Rhythms 208

The Organs of Speech and the Faculty of Speech (Third Archetypal Phenomenon) 211

Evolution of the Speech Organs 211

The Human Speech Organs 211

THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AND THE SENSE ORGANS

The Functional Threefoldness of the Nervous System ............................................................... 217 

Development of the Nervous System 217 

Basic Morphological Divisions of the Nervous System 221 

Basic Nerve Tissue Functions 223 

General Structure of Reflex Arcs in the Three Functional Domains .of the Nervous System 228 

The Major Sensorimotor Systems ................................................................................................. 234 

The First Sensorimotor System (Monosynaptic myostatic reflex arc) 235 

The Second Functional System of the Sensorimotor Systems 

(Complex polysynaptic reflexes) 235 

Cortical Motor Systems (Pyramidal system—the 5th sensorimotor system) 236 

Subcortical Motor System (4th sensorimotor system) 238 

The Vestibular System and the Cerebellum (3rd sensorimotor system) 242

The Sensory Systems ..................................................................................................................... 243 

Functional Subdivision and Action of the Sensory Systems 243 

General Functioning of the Senses 244 

Asymmetry of Sensory Reflex Loops 248 

The Organs of Hearing and Balance 249 

The Outer Ear 251 

The Temporal Bone, the Middle Ear, and Pneumatization 252 

The Organ of Hearing 256 

The Vestibular Organ 262 

The Organs of Speech and the Functional Cycle of Hearing and Speaking 263 

The Eye and the Visual System 264 

Morphology and Embryonic Development of the Eye 264 

The Visual Process and the Optic Tract 269 

The Eye’s Auxiliary Functional Systems 276 

The Visual System as a Whole 279 

The Chemical Senses (Taste and Smell) 279 

The Sense of Taste (Gustatory System) 280 

The Organ of Smell and the Olfactory System 282 

Surface Sensitivity (The Skin Senses) 286 

The Sense of Warmth or Temperature 287 

The Organs of the Sense of Touch 289 

The Sense of Pain 293

Deep Sensitivity (The Muscle Senses) 293 

The Sense of Equilibrium 294 

The Visceral Senses (Sense of Life) 297 

The Sensory System as a Whole 298

The Autonomic or Vegetative Nervous System ............................................................................ 301 

The Peripheral Organizational Level (Intramural System) 303 

How Autonomic Nerves Work 303 

Structure and Function of Autonomic Reflex Loops 304 

The Middle Organizational Level (The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Systems) 306

The Upper Organizational Level (Hypothalamus and Limbic System) 310 

The Hypothalamus 310 

The Limbic System 312

The Nervous System and Consciousness .................................................................................... 314 

The Brain as the Organ of Consciousness 314 

Lateralization of the Hemispheres 315 

Consciousness and Subconsciousness 317 

The Nervous System as the Foundation of the Human Soul and Spirit 318

The Endocrine System (Hormonal Glands) .................................................................................. 320 

Development and Function of the Endocrine Organs 321 

The Pharyngeal Organs: Thyroid, Parathyroids, and Thymus 322

The Abdominal Endocrine Glands: Pancreatic Islets of Langerhans and Adrenals 326 

The Pituitary as an Endocrine Organ 328 

The Endocrine System and the Reproductive Organs 330 

The Pituitary/Pineal System 330

HEAD DEVELOPMENT AND ORGAN METAMORPHOSES

Head Development and the Integration Principle ........................................................................ 335 

Development and Metamorphosis of Bony Elements 337 

Development of the Human Skull 340 

Development of the Torso Skeleton 343 

The Skull as a Metamorphosis of the Torso and Limb Skeleton 345 

Vertebral Metamorphosis 346 

Upper Limb Metamorphosis 351 

The Zygomatic Bone and the Frontal Bone 353 

Lower Limb Metamorphosis 354 

Temporal Bone and Pelvis 356 

The Principle of Formative Integration in Tooth Development 358 

The Threefoldness of the Facial Skeleton and the Physiognomy of the Human Face 362 

The Integrative Arrangement of the Cranial Nerves 364

Organ Metamorphoses ................................................................................................................... 366 

Kidney/Eye Metamorphosis 366 

Upper Abdomen/Labyrinth Metamorphosis 370

Head Development and the Disintegration Principle .................................................................. 373

The Respiratory System of the Head ............................................................................................ 377 

The Ethmoid Bone and the Paranasal Sinuses 377 

The Paranasal Sinuses 379 

The Olfactory System 380 

The Branchial Apparatus (Branchial or Pharyngeal Skeleton) 381 

Metamorphosis of the Reproductive Organs into the Organs of Speech 382

The Pituitary/Pineal System ........................................................................................................... 385

EVOLUTIONARY ASPECTS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

The Physiological Foundations of Freedom ................................................................................ 391 

Rhythms in Human Life 393

Evolutionary Principles and the Genesis of the Modern Human Form ..................................... 396 

Adaptation and Antiadaptation 397 

The Empirical Principle 498 

Orthogenesis 400 

Human and Animal Evolution 401 

Summary 402

The Future of Human Evolution and the Problem of the Resurrection Body............................ 405 

References 411 

Index 416 

About the Author 425


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