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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Holism (from Greek ὅλος holos "all, whole, entire") is the idea that various systems (e.g. physical, biological, social) should be viewed as wholes, not merely as a collection of parts.[1][2] The term "holism" was coined by Jan Smuts in his 1926 book Holism and Evolution.[3]


The exact meaning of "holism" depends on context. Smuts originally used "holism" to refer to the tendency in nature to produce wholes from the ordered grouping of unit structures.[3] However, in common usage, "holism" usually refers to the idea that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.[4] In this sense, "holism" may also be spelled "wholism" (although the two are not etymologically related), and it may be contrasted with reductionism or atomism.[5]

Diet and health

The term holistic when applied to diet or medical health refers to an intuitive approach to food, eating, or lifestyle.[6] One example is in the context of holistic medicine, where "holism" refers to treating all aspects of a person's health, including psychological and societal factors, rather than only their physical conditions or symptoms.[7] In this sense, holism may also be called "holiatry."[8] Several approaches are used by medical doctors, dietitians, and religious institutions, and are usually recommended based on an individual basis.[9][10][11] Adherents of religious institutions that practice a holistic dietary and health approach, such as Hinduism,[9] Shinto,[12] and the Seventh-day Adventist Church,[11] have been shown to have longer lifespans than those of surrounding populations.


In Philosophy of science, logical holism is the concept that a theory can only be understood in its entirety.

See also


  1. ^ Oshry, Barry (2008), Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life, Berrett-Koehler.
  2. ^ Auyang, Sunny Y (1999), Foundations of Complex-system Theories: in Economics, Evolutionary Biology, and Statistical Physics, Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ a b "holism, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, Accessed 23 October 2019.
  4. ^ J. C. Poynton (1987) SMUTS'S HOLISM AND EVOLUTION SIXTY YEARS ON, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 46:3, 181-189, DOI:10.1080/00359198709520121
  5. ^ "wholism, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, Accessed 23 October 2019.
  6. ^ Chesak, Jennifer (October 23, 2018). "The No BS Guide to Holistic, Healthier Eating". Healthline. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  7. ^ "holistic, adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, Accessed 23 October 2019.
  8. ^ holism
  9. ^ a b Fenton, Crystal (April 16, 2010). "Holistic Diet". LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "28-Day Holistic Health Overhaul". January 27, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "8 foods for a longer, healthier life". October 21, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  12. ^ "FACING THE SPIRITS: ILLNESS AND HEALING IN A JAPANESE COMMUNITY". Eesti Rahvaluule. Retrieved October 9, 2020.

Further reading

  • Fodor, Jerry, and Ernst Lepore, Holism: A Shopper's Guide Wiley. New York. 1992
  • Phillips, D.C. Holistic Thought in Social Science. Stanford University Press. Stanford. 1976.

External links

  • Media related to Holism at Wikimedia Commons
This page was last edited on 13 March 2021, at 00:21
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