In science, holism, seen as the opposite of reductionism, is a theory that the universe and especially "living nature", aka powered CHNOPS+ animate nature, is correctly seen in terms of interacting wholes, such as of living organisms, which are more than the mere sum of elementary particles. [1]

In 1888, Charles Whitman, an American zoologist, in his “Seat of Formative and Regenerative Energy”, as cited by Judson Herrick (1956), outlined the following early holism-like statement:

“So in the development of a germ, in the repair of injured parts, and in the regeneration of lost parts, the fact is irresistibly forced upon us, that the ‘organism as a whole’ controls the formative processes going on in each part. The formative power then belongs only to the organism as a physiological whole, and it does not represent a sum or aggregate of atomic, molecular and other forces; and it disappears as such the moment the nexus is destroyed.”

In 1926, Jan Smuts, an South African philosopher and statesman, in his Holism and Evolution, introduced the term "holism" . [2]

In 2005, Peter Corning was presenting holism in the form of a mixture or hodgepodge of combined types various systems theories, such as chaos theory, complexity theory, emergence theory, cybernetics, synergy, bioeconomics, and evolution, often sewn with references to entropy. [3]

The Santa Fe Institute is often viewed as a representative school of holism thought.

The following are related quotes:

“The conception of the ‘organism as a whole’ may in a degree be mystical as used by some writers, the demonstration of a specific mechanism that at all times makes the normal individual a unit takes this conception out of the realm of mysticism or vitalism and places it on a scientific foundation.”
— George Coghill (1930), “The Structural Basis of the Integration of Behavior” [5]

“At its nuttiest extreme are those with holistics in their heads, those whose reaction to reductionism takes the form of a belief in psychic energies, life forces that cannot be described in terms of the ordinary laws of inanimate nature.”
Steven Weinberg (1992), Dreams of a Final Theory [4]

“At first glance, it appears that the paradigm of ‘reduction’, the idea that the whole is just the sum of its parts (presuming, as it does, that the parts exist independent of the whole), is untenable when applied to a study of international relations. The opposite of reductionism might be characterized as ‘holistics’, that you cannot understand the whole in terms of its parts but must create an entirely different science starting from the whole (e.g., developing a science of the physical behavior of gases without presuming the existence of molecules—a science which actually has been done, i.e. thermodynamics, with limited successes). The practitioners of reductionism would counter that if you really know the properties of the individual, including knowledge of how that individual is governed by the environment in which it finds itself, that you could deduce the properties of the collective. Such an attitude towards a science, such a working hypothesis for the acquisition of further knowledge, is non-testable, as is Occam’s razor. You can’t say reductionism is wrong; its supports will say you haven’t pushed it far enough. The same can be said for holistics. However, when progress towards knowledge in a reductionism sense is made (as was the case with the physics of gases), it is usually felt that more understanding has been gained: you know more about something when you can link its behavior to that of its elements. I choose to try to make progress in this sense.”
Alvin Saperstein (1999), Dynamic Modelling of the Onset of War (pg. 22)

1. Holism – Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (2000).
2. Smuts, Jan C. (1926). Holism and Evolution. MacMillan.
3. Corning, Peter A. (2005). Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution (ch. 12: To Be or Entropy: Thermodynamics, Information, and Life Revisited, pgs. 313-). University of Chicago Press.
4. Weinberg, Steven. (1992). Dreams of a Final Theory: the Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature (pg. 53). Random House.
5. (a) Coghill, George E. (1930). “The Structural Basis of the Integration of Behavior” (pgs. 642-43), National Academy of Science, 16:637-43.
(b) Herrick, C. Judson. (1956). The Evolution of Human Nature (abs) (pg. 83). University of Texas Press.
6. (a) Whitman, Charles O. (1888). “Seat of Formative and Regenerative Energy”, Journal of Morphology, 2:27-49.
(b) Herrick, C. Judson. (1956). The Evolution of Human Nature (abs) (pg. 93). University of Texas Press.

External links
‚óŹ Holism – Wikipedia.

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