What is Holism?

Posted Oct. 20, 2010 by Michael Gusek in Open

commented on Nov. 14, 2012
by mrmathew1963



I would like to hear from you! What exactly do you think Holism is?

  • mrmathew1963 Nov 14, 2012

    G'day Michael

    This has similarities to IS-ness as IS-ness is the true whole, everything else like oneness, enlightenment & any other ideology are only parts of IS-ness, IS-ness is the unemotional whole & any emotional state of this IS-ness denotes separate parts of this whole. What I’m saying here is I believe oneness & enlightenment are only emotional states which are only parts of this IS-ness.


  • Anonymous Icon

    rparker Nov 14, 2012

    The definitions of Holism are provided in Holism ad Evolution by Smuts in the concluding paragraphs of of Chapter 5 General Concept of Holism:

    i. According to the view expounded in this chapter, the whole in each individual case is the centre and creative source of reality. It is the real factor from which the rest in each case follows. But there is infinity of such wholes comprising all the grades of existence in the universe; and it becomes necessary to have a general term which will include and cover all wholes as such under one concept. For this the term Holism has been coined.
    ii. Holism is both a concept and a factor; a concept as standing for all wholes, a factor because the wholes it denotes are the real factors in the universe. We speak of matter as including all particles of matter; on the same way we shall speak of Holism as including all wholes which are the ultimate creative structures of reality in the world.
    iii. Difficulty may arise because Holism will sometimes also be used in another sense, to denote a theory of the universe. Thus while matter and spirit are taken as real or substantive factors, and material-ism and spiritual-ism or ideal-ism as concepts or theories in reference to them respectively; it would by analogy not be improper to use the term Holism to express the view that the ultimate reality in the universe is neither matter nor spirit but wholes as defined in this book.

    A summary of the general concept of Holism from Chapter 5 of Holism and Evolution is as follows:

     A whole is an ordered grouping of unit structures.
     A whole is a synthesized event in space-time that includes its past, present and future.
     The whole is not a mere mechanical system. It consists indeed, of parts. But it is more than the sum of its parts.
     Variation and its role in Evolution (Natural Selection), is an aspect of Holism (ii)
     Holism is a regulative function with respect to cooperation and coordination of parts
     The regulatory function of Holism selects and de-selects of variations
     Holism is a process of creative synthesis; wholes are not static they are dynamic and evolutionally.
     There is a progressive grading of wholes that includes the physical, chemical, biological, mental, personal and the social.
     Holism is an ultimate principle of the universe that is expressed in terms of the general concept, functions and categories of wholes.

    I am currently working on on Holism and Mathematics which provides the elaborations on Holism for the not physical categories of wholes. If interested email randall.h.parkersr@gmail.com.

  • RedDog Oct 21, 2010

    I do tend to agree with the idea of methodological perspective of holism, which states; the best way to study a complex system is to treat it as a whole, and resist the reductionistic tendency to analyze the structure and behaviour of its componet parts. Especially in light of the metaphysical description of Holism as `the whole is more than the sum of its parts'.

    It is to easy to miss something subtle, and important, if your not keeping the Whole in mind when focusing on anything you are trying to define.

    I just don't like getting to caught up in the term of nonseparability linked to Holism, as it may end up as a rigid dogma

Stay in touch with IONS