Inform... Engage... Enlighten... Inspire...

Understanding Holism: How it May Form a Basis
for Understanding Many Other Things

By Dr Paul Freinkel


Holism is the understanding of reality in terms of systems tending towards integrated wholes whose properties may not be reduced to those of smaller units. These wholes form at least four major groups of complexity: material systems, living (material) systems, conscious (living material) systems and self-conscious (living material) systems4 which further organize into meta-systems such as the social / environmental, moral and spiritual. This tendency towards organization appears in contradiction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which requires an increase in entropy within a closed system. This paper explores the connection between the tendency towards self organization and the generation of life within the universe, the universal tendency towards chaos and the role of information; how this connection was recognized by ancient traditions; how the processes of organization are common to the multiple levels of complex systems within the universe and how this commonality of process can form the framework for interdisciplinary enquiry with examples brought from classical mechanics and medicine.