Last modified on 27 July 2014, at 17:22


Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) is the idea that natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties, should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts.


  • The new paradigm may be called a holistic world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term "ecological" is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical process of nature.
    • Fritjof Capra, Gunter A. Pauli (1995) Steering business toward sustainability. p.3 cited in: Elmer Kennedy-Andrews (2008) Writing Home. p.13
  • Holism traditionally says that a collection of beings may have a collective property that cannot be inferred from the properties of its members.
  • Enterprise architecture is a holistic representation of all the components of the enterprise and the use of graphics and schemes are used to emphasize all parts of the enterprise, and how they are interrelated."
    • Gordon Bitter Davis (1999) The Blackwell encyclopedic dictionary of management information systems‎. p.72
  • Teachers have three main tasks: first, to train both hemispheres — not only the verbal, symbolic, logical left hemisphere, which has always been trained in the traditional education, but also the relational, holistic right hemisphere, which is largely neglected in today's schools; second, to train students to use the cognitive style suited to the tasks at hand; and third, to train students to be able to bring both styles — both hemispheres — to bear on a problem in an integrated manner.
    • Betty Edwards (1979) The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
  • Much of philosophy concerns man's search for holistic concepts which will help him see a meaningful pattern in the complexity with which his perceptual world confronts him. What is new is the rapidly growing intensity of the quest, and the modern context of the search. Plato's Republic is from a world quite different from that of Boguslaw's. The New Utopians.
  • People rag on western medicine a lot for its disregard of indirect causalities and holism, for its antisceptic deconstructivism, for its blindness to things like the union of mind and body, and for its proclivity for post-facto treatment.
  • Waldorf education has been an important model of holistic education for almost a century. It is one of the very few forms of education that acknowledges the soul-life of children and nurtures that life. It is truly an education for the whole child and will continue to be an important model of education as we move into the 21st century.
    • Jack Miller, Professor, Coordinator of Holistic and Aesthetic Education in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto [1]
  • If one were to pass a law limiting holistic physicians to a single holistic method, I would stick with my dentist.
    • Thomas Rau (2007) Biological Medicine. Fona-Verlag. p. 144
  • Finiteness is a holistic property. The sphere as a whole has a character different from that of a plane. A spherical surface made from rubber, such as a balloon, can be twisted so that its geometry changes. ...but it cannot be distorted in such a way as that it will cover a plane. All surfaces obtained by distortion of the rubber sphere possess the same holistic properties; they are closed and finite.
  • In all the previous cases of wholes, we have nowhere been able to argue from the parts of the whole. Compared to its parts, the whole constituted by them is something quite different, something creatively new, as we have seen. Creative evolution synthesises from the parts a new entity not only different from them, but quite transcending them. That is the essence of a whole. It is always transcendent to its parts, and its character cannot be inferred from the characters of its parts.
  • There is a strong current in contemporary culture advocating ‘holistic’ views as some sort of cure-all... Reductionism implies attention to a lower level while holistic implies attention to higher level. These are intertwined in any satisfactory description: and each entails some loss relative to our cognitive preferences, as well as some gain... there is no whole system without an interconnection of its parts and there is no whole system without an environment.

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