Note 8 - Holism and Partism

As the essence of the dynamic approach is that all such relationships can be given equally valid opposite interpretations in linear (asymmetric) terms, this clearly applies to the important relationship as between whole and part.

The problem with holism - as with all partial asymmetrical interpretations - is that it is necessarily unbalanced.

Here every holon is defined as a whole/part i.e. every lower is part of a higher holon.
So the emphasis in evolution is on the progressive movement from individual to more collective wholes e.g. an atom is part of a molecule is part of a cell is part of an organism etc.

However in dynamic terms the relationship is bi-directional so that the whole is related to the part and the part is related to the whole.
The fallacy with holism is that it assumes that we can in a sense predefine "lower" holons and give them a meaning independent of their relationship to "higher" level wholes.

However "lower" wholes have no meaning in the absence of the context provided by "higher" more collective whole identities.
So it is only through giving "lower" wholes this more collective context of identity that they can assume a distinct individual meaning meaning in the first place.

Therefore when viewed from this perspective, the unique identity of each "lower" holon arises directly from the provision of ever more collective whole contexts (thus progressively enhancing its individual nature).

Therefore we can equally define evolution - from an asymmetrical perspective - in terms of partism where each "higher" level of organisation progressively reveals the unique part identity of each "lower" holon. Thus the "highest" rung in evolution is now the unique identity of the "lowest" part holon.

These ideas are closely related in turn to transcendence and immanence respectively.
Holism - though not necessarily - is usually associated with the transcendent direction of evolution i.e. each higher level transcends the lower level.
Partism - though again not necessarily - is usually associated with the correspondent immanent direction where each higher is made immanent through the lower level.

PS  I use "lower" and "higher" to point to their purely relative complementary nature. So when we identify "higher" with holism and a more collective whole identity, then "lower" - in this context - relates to a more individual part identity.

However we are equally entitled to switch our frame of reference indentifying "higher" with the more unique part and "lower" with the more collective whole identity respectively.
So in the above note "higher" and "lower" are consistently defined in terms of the former reference frame.