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

By Dr Paul Freinkel


If the process of holism is the glue of the universe, the converse is disorder. Within a closed system disorder / chaos (entropy) must either remain constant or increase. This, the second law of thermodynamics8 , is responsible for decay, for the experience of unidirectional time, for toes being cold in winter, my perpetually messy desk and all manner of disorganization. How then do entropy and holism co-exist? Entropy can be decreased (i.e. order can be increased) in a system where there is corresponding increase in entropy (disordering) of an interacting system3 (for example adding energy to one system by burning another). Furthermore a system acquiring and storing information about the interacting systems can use that information to make heat flow from a cold object to a hot one (entropy here is decreased i.e. order being increased through the use of information)3 . Such a system could extract heat from cold winter air to further warm already warm toes (The thermal equivalent of making water flow uphill). Such a system could also facilitate information stored in DNA to organize molecules into cells, cells into tissues and tissues into organisms aware that they are aware of their warm toes and able to form warm toe awareness support groups. The forever evolving organization of complex adaptive integrated wholes thus takes place when individual systems receive, record, share and respond to information about each other and the shared ecosystem. It is also intimately bound to the process of devolving and disorganizing others.