Note 17 - More on Holons

The customary definition of a holon i.e. as a whole/part whereby each whole is part of another higher is a reduced interpretation.
Putting it in holistic mathematical terms this represents a solely "real" interpretation.

In dynamic terms a holon is not just a whole/part. It equally is a part/whole.
In other words the dynamic interaction between whole and part (and part and whole) is bi-directional.

Unfortunately the reduced interpretation (as a whole/part) leads to an unbalanced view of holarchy (i.e. holism).

In terms of the customary definition the relation between part and whole is asymmetrical.

So an atom is assumed to be included in a molecule; however equally the molecule is thereby assumed to be not included in the atom.

However this is plainly unsatisfactory from a proper dynamic perspective where whole is related to part (and part related to whole) in a circular symmetrical fashion.

The problem with holism is that it assumes - in any context - that the lower whole can be predefined and thereby included in the higher (more collective) whole.

However in dynamic terms this is quite fallacious as the very meaning of the "lower" holon depends on the (wider) context provided through the "higher" holon (and indeed further more collective "higher" holons).

So in dynamic terms, just as the meaning of the "higher" holon depends on the "lower" (i.e. the molecule depends on its constituent atoms), likewise the meaning of the "lower" holon depends on the "higher" (i.e. atoms can only find meaning in the context of more collective wholes such as molecules). Indeed it should be obvious that in actual experience, the very recognition of the "lower" atom can only take place in the context of the much "higher" holon of mind.

Therefore - as I have repeatedly stated - whenever we attempt to understand (circular) dynamic bi-directional interactions in (linear) asymmetrical terms, two equally valid opposite interpretations are always possible.

Thus from one perspective the lower holon is transcended and included in a more collective higher holon (holism).

From the equally valid opposite perspective, the higher holon is made immanent and included in the lower holon (partism). So development is not just a journey towards more collective notions of wholeness; equally it is a journey towards more unique notions of partness.
And both these asymmetrical interpretations find their proper context within a dynamic (circular) bi-directional approach.

The implications of all this is that a proper dynamic understanding of holons cannot be conducted in solely "real" terms (where holons are identified merely as phenomenal structures).

As I have explained at length in note 13, the actual switch in understanding from part to whole recognition (and from whole to part) comes from the intervention of "imaginary" understanding. In other words both conscious and unconscious aspects are involved.

So for a holon to have meaning in dynamic terms it must be defined in "complex" terms (with both "real" and "imaginary" aspects).
Alternatively this can be explained by saying that the dynamic relationship between holons entails the interaction of states and structures (and structures and states).