Holism (from Ancient Greek ὅλος (hólos) 'all, whole, entire', and -ism) is the idea that various systems (e.g. physical, biological, social) should be viewed as wholes, not merely as a collection of parts. The term "holism" was coined by Jan Smuts in his 1926 book Holism and Evolution.
The exact meaning of "holism" depends on context. Jan Smuts originally used "holism" to refer to the tendency in nature to produce wholes from the ordered grouping of unit structures. However, in common usage, "holism" usually refers to the idea that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 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.
The term holistic when applied to diet refers to an intuitive approach to food, eating, or lifestyle. One example is in the context of holistic nursing, where "holism" refers to assessment of a person's health, including psychological and societal factors, rather than only their physical conditions or symptoms. In this sense, holism may also be called "holiatry." Some religious institutions practice a holistic dietary and health approach, such as Hinduism and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Michael Esfeld has suggested that holism is opposed to analytic philosophy, "holism with respect to intentional phenomena is widespread among analytic philosophers".
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- "holism, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, www.oed.com/view/Entry/87726. Accessed 23 October 2019.
- 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
- "wholism, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, www.oed.com/view/Entry/228738. Accessed 23 October 2019.
- "holistic, adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, www.oed.com/view/Entry/87727. Accessed 23 October 2019.
- Dictionary.com: holism
- Michael Esfeld, Holism and Analytic Philosophy. Mind, Vol. 107(426), 1998, pg. 365
- 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.
- Media related to Holism at Wikimedia Commons