The Nature of Integrative Study

The Nature of Integrative Study

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Title: The Nature of Integrative Study
Author: Joseph Engelberg
Description: This dynamic book encourages holistic vision, and is directed to individuals who wish to pursue integration themselves rather than merely read about it -- by Joseph Engelberg. This work is presented as an aid to those who wish to move beyond the criticism of specialization and fragmentation to the undertaking of actual integrative approaches. It can help you initiate a process of integrative study which can involve participants of varied ages, backgrounds, and levels of educational attainment. The methods and texts described in this work evolved over a twenty-year period and have been the basis for many medical center, university campus, and community college study sessions and courses.


This work is an aid for groups as well as individual study. In various drafts it has been in use for over thirty years. The groups numbered from two to 100 individuals ranging in ages 14 to 80 years. Among them were high school, college, medical, and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff, and high school students.

Part I of this work provides a set of Framework Statements: a network of fundamental concepts. These concepts are intended not as material to be memorized but as starting points—catalysts—for thought, and a means for beginning an integration of the diverse elements of one’s mind.

Part II explores the implications of a number of questions: Can the universe be approached without adopting the viewpoint of one or another area of specialization? Can one provide a process of study to which one can bring one’s entire life experience, rather than merely one’s professional expertise? Can the necessary integration be brought about without creating another area of specialization? Can one embark on the path of integration rather than merely advocate the importance and necessity of integration?

Part III consists of a set of commentaries upon the Framework Statements of Part I. These are the author’s reflections upon the Statements. They are provided as an aid for the reader.


To read a sample chapter of The Nature of Integrative Study, Click here




  1. Framework Statements for Integrative Study
  2. By Way of Introduction
  3. The Integrative Way
  4. The Integrative Power of Religion
  5. Outreach
  6. Some Elements of Systems Thought
  7. Time
  8. The Fundamental Unit of Life
  9. Higher Living Systems
  10. The Final Integration

References and Acknowledgments




The Nature of Integrative Study
By Joseph Engelberg
New Forums Press, Stillwater, Oklahoma

This book’s title, The Nature of Integrative Study, can be read in two ways. On one hand, “integrative study” is study that integrates, not segregates: study that draws in the insights on many disciplines to create new knowledge. On the other hand, “integrative study” is the study of integration, the development of new wholes—in the universe, in living organisms, in societies, in individual consciousness.

Joseph Engelberg’s 336-page book is a manual on integrative study in both senses. Four of its chapter, plus an epilogue, offer a productive method for studying wholes for a change instead of parts. The method centers on group discussions of carefully chosen “stories” and “framework statements.” Participants in these discussions are encouraged to “face away” from their own narrow perspectives (academic, ideological, religious) and “face toward” the integration taking place within the group.

The book’s other six chapters suggest content for such discussions. These chapters, Talmudic in their structure, consist of three parallel components: “framework statements;” Engelberg’s perceptive commentary on these statements; and provocative quotations from sources as diverse as the Upanishads, Freud, Newton, and Joyce.

Many of the framework statements are drawn from the theory of systems, with special focus on the human organism. These statements—like Zen koans of Jesus’ aphorisms—carry a richness beyond their surface meaning: a typical statement reads “What is chaos has been created is by reproduction preserved.” Ultimately, these statements lead the reader to the awareness that the integrative way is the religious Way, toward “the final integration:” love, life, wisdom, God.

The book opens with a parable: “When the great library known as the Tower of Babel is destroyed, the builders flee….Forced to abandon the riches long accumulated there, what is it they should take so that, where they will dwell, all that was lost, and more, can live again?” The Nature of Integrative Study can stand as an answer to that question—providing as it does a method and content for creating new wholes out of old fragments


Book Review by:                         Kenneth Davis
Professor of English
Indiana/Purdue University
425 University Blvd.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202




About the Author: Joseph Engelberg was born in Vienna. Following the Nazi takeover he fled, first to England, then to the United States where he has resided ever since. In his senior year at the Cooper Union School of Engineering, he developed an interest in the application of engineering methods to the solution of medical problems. Following his graduation, he pursued these interests in the Department of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. While there he obtained a Ph.D. in physics. Following his post-doctoral studies at the University of Colorado Medical Center and the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the faculty of the newly-established University of Kentucky College of Medicine where he is presently a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physiology.

Apart from his scientific interests, he has wrestled from early times with the question: Can the universe be approached without adopting the viewpoint of one or another area of specialization? Is the oxygen molecule, for example, a citizen of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, or the humanities?

What seemed to be lacking was not another area of specialization but an approach that was above and beyond these areas of specialization. Further, this approach should not talk about integration but help individuals bring this about. From this premise a plethora of activities ensued. They included the establishment of an Office of Integrative Studies. The Office made use of the vast resources available in any major university. It developed dozens of college, university-wide, and community-wide programs ranging from graduate and medical education, to hospital care, religion, and humanistic studies.
Details: 1993 [ISBN: 0-913507-51-2; 336 pages soft cover; 8.5-by-11-inch]