Holism in science

Holism in science

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Holism in science, or Holistic science, is an approach to research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 that emphasizes the study of complex systems
Complex systems
Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

. This practice is in contrast to a purely analytic tradition (sometimes called reductionism) which aims to gain understanding of systems by dividing them into smaller composing elements and gaining understanding of the system through understanding their elemental properties. The holism-reductionism dichotomy is often evident in conflicting interpretations of experimental findings and in setting priorities for future research.

Overview


Holism in science is an approach to research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 that emphasizes the study of complex systems
Complex systems
Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

.

The Nature Institute, a research institute in holistic science, describes the necessity for Holism in science as follows
Modern science has increasingly moved out of nature and into the laboratory, driven by a desire to find an underlying mechanistic basis of life. Despite all its success, this approach is one-sided and urgently calls for a counterbalancing movement toward nature. Only if we find ways of transforming our propensity to view and control nature in terms of parts and mechanisms, will we be able to see, value, and protect the integrity of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. This demands a contextual way of seeing."


Two central aspects are:
  1. the way of doing science, sometimes called "whole to parts," which focuses on observation of the specimen within its ecosystem first before breaking down to study any part of the specimen.
  2. the idea that the scientist is not a passive observer of an external universe; that there is no 'objective truth,' but that the individual is in a reciprocal, participatory relationship with nature, and that the observer's contribution to the process is valuable.


The term holistic science has been used as a category encompassing a number of scientific research fields (see some examples below). The term may not have a precise definition. Fields of scientific research considered potentially holistic do however have certain things in common.

First, they are multidisciplinary. Second, they are concerned with the behavior of complex systems
Complex systems
Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

. Third, they recognize feedback
Feedback
Feedback describes the situation when output from an event or phenomenon in the past will influence an occurrence or occurrences of the same Feedback describes the situation when output from (or information about the result of) an event or phenomenon in the past will influence an occurrence or...

 within systems as a crucial element for understanding their behavior.

The Santa Fe Institute
Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute is an independent, nonprofit theoretical research institute located in Santa Fe and dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems, including physical, computational, biological, and social systems.The Institute houses a...

, a center of holistic scientific research in the United States, expresses it like this:
The two dominant characteristics of the SFI research style are commitment to a multidisciplinary approach and an emphasis on the study of problems that involve complex interactions among their constituent parts.

Alternative to reductionism


The holistic premise is that there is a possible qualitative difference between an entire system and its parts: that modularisation may fail. As applied to science, holists may generally assert that this difference can warrant the kind of rigorous scrutiny typical of scientific inquiry. The distinction of approach then lies not so much in the subjects chosen for study, but in the methods and assumptions used to study them.

Though considered by some as alternative, holistic methods are not generally at odds with the classical scientific method. Where holistic scientists come from a standard science background, holistic work in science tends to be, to varying degrees, a marriage of the two approaches. For example gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is a theory of mind and brain of the Berlin School; the operational principle of gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies...

 grew out of early experimental psychology
Experimental psychology
Experimental psychology is a methodological approach, rather than a subject, and encompasses varied fields within psychology. Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles, and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception,...

. When the terms are used constructively in the science context, holism and reductionism refer to how empirical evidence is interpreted, and not only to the methods used to produce such evidence.

Opposing views


Holistic science is controversial
Controversy
Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion. The word was coined from the Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus – "turned in an opposite direction," from contra – "against" – and vertere – to turn, or versus , hence, "to turn...

. One opposing view is that holistic science is "pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

" because it does not rigorously follow the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 despite the use of a scientific-sounding language. Bunge (1983) and Lilienfeld et al. (2003) state that proponents of pseudoscientific claims, especially in organic medicine, alternative medicine, naturopathy and mental health, often resort to the “mantra of holism” to explain negative findings or to immunise their claims against testing. Stenger (1999) states that "holistic healing is associated with the rejection of classical, Newtonian physics. Yet, holistic healing retains many ideas from eighteenth and nineteenth century physics. Its proponents are blissfully unaware that these ideas, especially superluminal holism, have been rejected by modern physics as well".

Science journalist John Horgan
John Horgan (American journalist)
John Horgan is an American science journalist best known for his 1996 book The End of Science. He has written for many publications, including Scientific American, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and IEEE Spectrum...

 has expressed this view in the book The End of Science 1996. He wrote that a certain pervasive model within holistic science, self-organized criticality
Self-organized criticality
In physics, self-organized criticality is a property of dynamical systems which have a critical point as an attractor. Their macroscopic behaviour thus displays the spatial and/or temporal scale-invariance characteristic of the critical point of a phase transition, but without the need to tune...

, for example, "is not really a theory at all. Like punctuated equilibrium
Punctuated equilibrium
Punctuated equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology which proposes that most species will exhibit little net evolutionary change for most of their geological history, remaining in an extended state called stasis...

, self-organized criticality is merely a description, one of many, of the random fluctuations, the noise, permeating nature." By the theorists' own admissions, he said, such a model "can generate neither specific predictions about nature nor meaningful insights. What good is it, then?"

Applications of holism in science


Some scientific disciplines are affected by the holistic paradigm.

Cognitive science


The field of cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, or the study of mind and intelligence has some examples for holistic approaches. These include Unified Theory of Cognition
Unified theory of cognition
Unified Theories of Cognition is a 1990 book by Allen Newell. Newell argues for the need of a set of general assumptions for cognitive models that account for all of cognition: a unified theory of cognition ....

(Allen Newell
Allen Newell
Allen Newell was a researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, Tepper School of Business, and Department of Psychology...

, e.g. Soar
Soar (cognitive architecture)
Soar is a symbolic cognitive architecture, created by John Laird, Allen Newell, and Paul Rosenbloom at Carnegie Mellon University, now maintained by John Laird's research group at the University of Michigan. It is both a view of what cognition is and an implementation of that view through a...

, ACT-R
ACT-R
ACT-R is a cognitive architecture mainly developed by John Robert Anderson at Carnegie Mellon University. Like any cognitive architecture, ACT-R aims to define the basic and irreducible cognitive and perceptual operations that enable the human mind....

 as models
Cognitive architecture
A cognitive architecture is a blueprint for intelligent agents. It proposes computational processes that act like certain cognitive systems, most often, like a person, or acts intelligent under some definition. Cognitive architectures form a subset of general agent architectures...

) and many others, many of which rely on the concept of emergence
Emergence
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems....

, i.e. the interplay of many entities make up a functioning whole. Another example is psychological nativism
Psychological nativism
In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are 'native' or hard wired into the brain at birth. This is in contrast to empiricism, the 'blank slate' or tabula rasa view, which states that the brain has inborn capabilities for learning from the environment but...

, the study of the innate structure of the mind.
Non-holistic functionalist approaches within cognitive science include e.g. the modularity of mind
Modularity of mind
Modularity of mind is the notion that a mind may, at least in part, be composed of separate innate structures which have established evolutionarily developed functional purposes...

 paradigm.

Cognitive science need not concern only human cognition. Biologist Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He currently lives in Colorado and lectures internationally on issues of animal behavior, cognitive ethology , and behavioral ecology.Like Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff is an ethologist, which...

 has done holistic, interdisciplinary scientific research in animal cognition and has published a book about it (see below).

Quantum physics


In the standard Copenhagen Interpretation
Copenhagen interpretation
The Copenhagen interpretation is one of the earliest and most commonly taught interpretations of quantum mechanics. It holds that quantum mechanics does not yield a description of an objective reality but deals only with probabilities of observing, or measuring, various aspects of energy quanta,...

 of quantum mechanics there is a holism of the measurement situation, in which there is a holism of apparatus and object. There is an "uncontrollable disturbance" of the measured object by the act of measurement according to Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

. It is impossible to separate the effect of the measuring apparatus from the object measured. The observer-measurement relation is an active area of research today: see Quantum decoherence
Quantum decoherence
In quantum mechanics, quantum decoherence is the loss of coherence or ordering of the phase angles between the components of a system in a quantum superposition. A consequence of this dephasing leads to classical or probabilistically additive behavior...

, Quantum Zeno effect
Quantum Zeno effect
The quantum Zeno effect is a name coined by George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra of the University of Texas in 1977 in their analysis of the situation in which an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay. One can nearly "freeze" the evolution of the system by measuring it...

 and Measurement problem
Measurement problem
The measurement problem in quantum mechanics is the unresolved problem of how wavefunction collapse occurs. The inability to observe this process directly has given rise to different interpretations of quantum mechanics, and poses a key set of questions that each interpretation must answer...

.

In the holistic approach
Holomovement
The holomovement is a key concept in David Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics and for his overall wordview. It brings together the holistic principle of "undivided wholeness" with the idea that everything is in a state of process or becoming...

 of David Bohm
David Bohm
David Joseph Bohm FRS was an American-born British quantum physicist who contributed to theoretical physics, philosophy, neuropsychology, and the Manhattan Project.-Youth and college:...

, any collection of quantum objects constitutes an indivisible whole within an implicate and explicate order
Implicate and explicate order according to David Bohm
According to David Bohm's theory, implicate and explicate orders are characterised by:-David Bohm's challenges to some generally prevailing views:...

.

Bohm pointed out that there is no scientific evidence to support the dominant view that the universe consists of a huge, finite number of minute particles, and offered in its stead a view of undivided wholeness: "ultimately, the entire universe (with all its 'particles,' including those constituting human beings, their laboratories, observing instruments, etc) has to be understood as a single undivided whole, in which analysis into separately and independently existent parts has no fundamental status."

Engineering


In engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, the holistic approach can be considered "natural" because one of main engineering tasks is to design systems not existing yet. Therefore, conceptual design begins from a general idea which is successively specialized top-down. This process is stopped when the specified details are components available on the market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

.

Biology


Holistic science sometimes asks different questions than a strictly analytic science—as is exemplified by Goethe in the following passage:

We conceive of the individual animal as a small world, existing for its own sake, by its own means. Every creature is its own reason to be. All its parts have a direct effect on one another, a relationship to one another, thereby constantly renewing the circle of life; thus we are justified in considering every animal physiologically perfect. Viewed from within, no part of the animal is a useless or arbitrary product of the formative impulse (as so often thought). Externally, some parts may seem useless because the inner coherence of the animal nature has given them this form without regard to outer circumstance. Thus…[not] the question, What are they for? but rather, Where do they come from?
(Goethe, Scientific Studies, Suhrkamp ed., vol 12, p. 121; trans. Douglas Miller)

Other examples


  • Ecology
    Ecology
    Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

    , or ecological science, i.e. studying the ecology at levels ranging from populations, communities, and ecosystems up to the biosphere as a whole.
  • The study of climate change
    Climate change
    Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

     in the wider context of Earth science
    Earth science
    Earth science is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. It is arguably a special case in planetary science, the Earth being the only known life-bearing planet. There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences...

     (and Earth system science
    Earth system science
    Earth system science seeks to integrate various fields of academic study to understand the Earth as a system. It considers interaction between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere , biosphere, and heliosphere....

     in particular) can be considered holistic science, as the climate (and the Earth itself) constitutes a complex system to which the scientific method cannot be applied using current technology. The first scientist to seriously propose this was James Lovelock
    James Lovelock
    James Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurologist who lives in Devon, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling...

    . http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2006-11-28T151248Z_01_L28841108_RTRUKOC_0_US-EARTH-FEVER.xml&src=112806_1245_ARTICLE_PROMO_also_on_reuters (URL accessed on 28 November 2006)
  • Princeton University
    Princeton University
    Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

     hosts a holistic science project entitled "Global Consciousness Project" that uses a network of physical random number generators to register events of global significance, testing the hypothesis that there is a collective human consciousness at work in the world. http://noosphere.princeton.edu/
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

    's 1810 book Zur Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors) not only parted radically with the dominant Newtonian
    Isaac Newton
    Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

     optical
    Optics
    Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

     theories of his time, but also with the entire Enlightenment
    Age of Enlightenment
    The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

     methodology
    Methodology
    Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

     of reductive science. Although the theory was not received well by scientists, Goethe — considered one of the most important intellectual figures in modern Europe — thought of his color theory as his greatest accomplishment. Holistic theorists and scientists such as Rupert Sheldrake
    Rupert Sheldrake
    Rupert Sheldrake is an English scientist. He is known for having proposed an unorthodox account of morphogenesis and for his research into parapsychology. His books and papers stem from his theory of morphic resonance, and cover topics such as animal and plant development and behaviour, memory,...

     still refer to the Goethe's color-theory as an inspiring example of holistic science. The introduction to the book lays out Goethe's unique philosophy of science
    Philosophy of science
    The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

    .
  • In system dynamics
    System dynamics
    System dynamics is an approach to understanding the behaviour of complex systems over time. It deals with internal feedback loops and time delays that affect the behaviour of the entire system. What makes using system dynamics different from other approaches to studying complex systems is the use...

     modeling, a field that originated at MIT, a holistic controlling paradigm organizes scientific method, but uses the results of reductionist science to define static relationships between variables in a modeling procedure that permits simulation of the dynamics of the system under study. As mentioned above, feedback
    Feedback
    Feedback describes the situation when output from an event or phenomenon in the past will influence an occurrence or occurrences of the same Feedback describes the situation when output from (or information about the result of) an event or phenomenon in the past will influence an occurrence or...

     is a crucial tool for understanding system dynamics. http://www.albany.edu/cpr/sds/
  • Another example of how holistic and reductionist science can be mutually supportive and cooperative is free-choice profiling.
  • As an example of interdisciplinary holistic research. Joe L. Kincheloe
    Joe L. Kincheloe
    Joe Lyons Kincheloe, , was a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He wrote more than 45 books, numerous book-chapters, and hundreds of journal articles on issues including critical pedagogy, educational research, urban...

    , in his work in critical pedagogy
    Critical pedagogy
    Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education described by Henry Giroux as an "educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive...

    , has employed complexity and holism in science to overcome reductionism.

Writers on holistic science


Goethe, who developed a holistic methodology outlines this method in the essay, The experiment as mediator between subject and object (1772). In the Kurschner edition of Goethe's works, the science editor, Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

, presents Goethe's approach to science as phenomenological
Phenomenology (science)
The term phenomenology in science is used to describe a body of knowledge that relates empirical observations of phenomena to each other, in a way that is consistent with fundamental theory, but is not directly derived from theory. For example, we find the following definition in the Concise...

, and lays the groundwork for a holistic epistemology in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception and Goethe's World View,.
The following have written influential books which treat non-reductionist or holistic science:
  • Marc Bekoff
    Marc Bekoff
    Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He currently lives in Colorado and lectures internationally on issues of animal behavior, cognitive ethology , and behavioral ecology.Like Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff is an ethologist, which...

    , American biologist and cognitive ethologist, author of Species of Mind (with philosopher Colin Allen)
  • Henri Bortoft
    Henri Bortoft
    Henri Bortoft is an independent researcher and teacher, lecturer and writer on physics and the philosophy of science. He is best known for his work The Wholeness of Nature, considered a relevant and original recent interpretation of Goethean science....

    , physicist who did postgraduate research on the problem of wholeness in quantum physics with David Bohm, wrote The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe's Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature on Goethean Science
    Goethean science
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although primarily known as a literary figure, did research in morphology, anatomy, and optics, and also developed a phenomenological approach to science and to knowledge in general....

  • Kenneth E. Boulding
    Kenneth E. Boulding
    Kenneth Ewart Boulding was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher. He was cofounder of General Systems Theory and founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economics and social science. He was...

    , economist and system scientist
  • Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), French paleontologist, biologist, philosopher
  • Laurence W. Evans, Author of Nature's Holism that looks at holism through the coevolutionary process
  • Murray Gell-Mann
    Murray Gell-Mann
    Murray Gell-Mann is an American physicist and linguist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles...

    , physicist and Nobel laureate, wrote The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the Simple and the Complex on complexity
    Complexity
    In general usage, complexity tends to be used to characterize something with many parts in intricate arrangement. The study of these complex linkages is the main goal of complex systems theory. In science there are at this time a number of approaches to characterizing complexity, many of which are...

  • Richard Lewontin
    Richard Lewontin
    Richard Charles "Dick" Lewontin is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist and social commentator. A leader in developing the mathematical basis of population genetics and evolutionary theory, he pioneered the notion of using techniques from molecular biology such as gel electrophoresis to...

     biologist supporting the theory of group selection and that evolutionary theory must include the feedback loop where the organism actively creates its own ecological niche
    Ecological niche
    In ecology, a niche is a term describing the relational position of a species or population in its ecosystem to each other; e.g. a dolphin could potentially be in another ecological niche from one that travels in a different pod if the members of these pods utilize significantly different food...

    .
  • James Lovelock
    James Lovelock
    James Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurologist who lives in Devon, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling...

    , scientist and writer
  • Humberto Maturana
    Humberto Maturana
    Humberto Maturana is a Chilean biologist and philosopher. He is considered a member of the second wave of cybernetics, known for developing a theory of autopoiesis about the nature of reflexive feedback control in living systems.- Biography :After completing secondary school at the Liceo Manuel de...

     and Francisco Varela
    Francisco Varela
    Francisco Javier Varela García , was a Chilean biologist, philosopher and neuroscientist who, together with his teacher Humberto Maturana, is best known for introducing the concept of autopoiesis to biology.-Biography:...

     Chilean biologists which developed the concept of autopoiesis
  • Ilya Prigogine
    Ilya Prigogine
    Ilya, Viscount Prigogine was a Russian-born naturalized Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility.-Biography :...

    , Belgian physicist, chemist, and writer, 1977 Nobel laureate in chemistry
  • Alexander Rosenberg
    Alexander Rosenberg
    Alexander Rosenberg is an American philosopher, and the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.Rosenberg was educated at Stuyvesant High School, the City College of New York and Johns Hopkins University...

     philosopher of science
  • Rolf Sattler
    Rolf Sattler
    Rolf Sattler, Ph.D., D.Sc. , F.L.S., F.R.S.C., is a Canadian plant morphologist, biologist, philosopher, and educator. He is considered one of the most significant contributors to the field of plant morphology. His contributions are not only empirical but involved also a revision of the most...

    , biologist, author of Biophilosophy: Analytic and Holistic Perspectives and other publications on holism.
  • Francisco Varela
    Francisco Varela
    Francisco Javier Varela García , was a Chilean biologist, philosopher and neuroscientist who, together with his teacher Humberto Maturana, is best known for introducing the concept of autopoiesis to biology.-Biography:...

     (1946–2001), Chilean biologist
  • Alfred North Whitehead
    Alfred North Whitehead
    Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

     mathematician, physicist, and philosopher
  • Stephen Wolfram
    Stephen Wolfram
    Stephen Wolfram is a British scientist and the chief designer of the Mathematica software application and the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine.- Biography :...

    , author of A New Kind of Science
    A New Kind of Science
    A New Kind of Science is a book by Stephen Wolfram, published in 2002. It contains an empirical and systematic study of computational systems such as cellular automata...

  • F. David Peat
    F. David Peat
    F. David Peat was born in Waterloo, England and is a holistic physicist and author who has carried out research in solid state physics and the foundation of quantum theory....

    , holistic physicist and author

Holistic science in academe


Perhaps due to the inherent multidisciplinary nature of holistic science, academic institutions have been slow to come forward with degree programs for it. Those that have done so include Schumacher College
Schumacher College
Schumacher College was founded in 1991 in Dartington, Totnes, Devon, UK by Satish Kumar, John Lane and others. It was named after E.F. Schumacher. It is an international centre offering transformative learning for sustainable living, and runs holistic education courses...

 in the UK, which offers an MSc degree program in Holistic Science. Several universities have set up centers dedicated to one or more scientific fields where holistic approaches are common. These include the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

's Center for the Study of Complex Systems, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

's Global Consciousness Project
Global Consciousness Project
The Global Consciousness Project is a parapsychology experiment begun in 1998 as an attempt to detect possible interactions of "global consciousness" with physical systems...

, Rice University
Rice University
William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

's Cognitive Sciences Program, the London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan University , located in London, England, was formed on 1 August 2002 by the amalgamation of the University of North London and the London Guildhall University . The University has campuses in the City of London and in the London Borough of Islington.The University operates its...

's Centre for Postsecular Studies, and the Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies in Sheffield
Sheffield
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely...

.

There are also several non-university academic institutions and societies that are dedicated to holistic science or open to holistic ideas. For example, Santa Fe Institute
Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute is an independent, nonprofit theoretical research institute located in Santa Fe and dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems, including physical, computational, biological, and social systems.The Institute houses a...

, the Scientific and Medical Network (in Europe), the Pari Center for New Learning
Pari Center for New Learning
The Pari Center for New Learning is a non-profit educational center located in the village of Pari in Civitella Paganico of the Province of Grosseto, Italy. The center is directed by F. David Peat, who co-authored the book Science, Order, and Creativity with theoretical physicist David Bohm...

 (in Italy), and the System Dynamics Society
System Dynamics Society
The System Dynamics Society is a not-for-profit organization based in Albany, New York, USA, whose mission is to further research into system dynamics and systems thinking.- Economics Chapter :...

 in Albany, New York
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

. There is also the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California
Petaluma, California
Petaluma is a city in Sonoma County, California, in the United States. In the 2010 Census the population was 57,941.Located in Petaluma is the Rancho Petaluma Adobe, a National Historic Landmark. It was built beginning in 1836 by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, then Commandant of the San...

. Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 has its Willis Harman House in São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

.

See also



Articles related to holism
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    Cognitive science
    Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

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    Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

  • Holarchy
    Holarchy
    A holarchy, in the terminology of Arthur Koestler, is a connection between holons – where a holon is both a part and a whole. The term was coined in Koestler's 1967 book The Ghost in the Machine...

  • Holism
    Holism
    Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

  • Holism in ecological anthropology
    Holism in ecological anthropology
    Holism on its own is a method or tool for thinking critically about a certain topic or issue. It is an all-inclusive idea that the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts". A way to ensure that all aspects of an issue are considered and all perspectives are taken into consideration. ...

  • Holism in science
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    Holistic health
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  • Holon (philosophy)
    Holon (philosophy)
    A holon is something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. The word was coined by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine . Koestler was compelled by two observations in proposing the notion of the holon...

  • Philosophy of biology
    Philosophy of biology
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  • Scientific reductionism
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    Systems thinking
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  • Antireductionism
    Antireductionism
    Antireductionism is a reaction against reductionism, which instead advocates holism. Although "breaking complex phenomena into parts, is a key method in science," there are those complex phenomena where some resistance to or rebellion against this approach arises, primarily due to the perceived...


Articles related to classification of scientific endeavors
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    Cartesian anxiety
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  • Demarcation problem
    Demarcation problem
    The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science is about how and where to draw the lines around science. The boundaries are commonly drawn between science and non-science, between science and pseudoscience, between science and philosophy and between science and religion...

  • Hard science
  • Philosophy of science
    Philosophy of science
    The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

  • Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

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    Romanticism in science
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  • Science wars
    Science wars
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External links