Note 17 - On Holons


This point can be demonstrated quite easily.

If I refer to an atom in quantitative physical terms, I am thereby reducing the whole to the part.
The perception of an individual atom has no meaning independent of its collective concept (i.e. the quality of "atomness" which potentially applies to all atoms).
However this qualitative dimensional aspect gets lost in the recognition of the independent perception of the atom.
So in this context the qualitative (whole) becomes reduced to the quantitative (part) aspect.

If however I refer say to a theory regarding atoms I am thereby reducing the part to the whole.
Strictly speaking a conceptual theory does not apply to any actual atom as such but rather potentially to all atoms. So the reductionism that is involved in applying the theory to the individual perceptions is that we are now reducing the quantitative (part) to the qualitative (whole) aspect.

The very nature of conventional (analytic) science is that it necessarily involves a double form of reductionism. So wholes are continually reduced to parts in the observation of individual phenomena (which implicitly requires some organising conceptual pattern); parts are reduced to wholes in the application of general conceptual theories to individual data.

As I have already suggested, to properly preserve the relationship between whole and part (and part and whole) we need to move to a holistically mathematical complex formulation of phenomena (entailing both real and imaginary aspects).

So for example when we are consciously aware of "real" individual phenomena (in quantitative terms), the corresponding qualitative collective aspect is present in "imaginary" terms (i.e. as unconscious).
Likewise when we are aware of "real" collective concepts (in qualitative terms), the corresponding quantitative individual aspect is present in "imaginary" terms (as unconscious).