Wholism, reductionism (Francois, 2004)

In brief. David Ing.

Proponents of #SystemsThinking often espouse holism to counter over-emphasis on reductionism. Reading some definitions from an encyclopedia positions one in the context of the other (François 2004).

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HOLISM 1) – 3)
“A descriptive and investigative strategy which seeks to find the smallest number of explanatory principles by paying careful attention to the emergent properties of the whole, as opposed to the behavior of the isolated parts, as chosen by the observer in a reductionist strategy” (T.F.H. ALLEN & T.B. STARR, 1982, p.270).

The term and the concept were introduced in 1926 by the South African general and statesman Jan SMUTS. The term was derived from the Greek: “holos” = whole.

SMUTS wrote: “The idea of wholes and wholeness should… not be confined to the biological domain: it covers both inorganic substances and the highest manifestations of the human spirit. Taking a plant…

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