I have studied Holism for some time now, and the other night I watched a two hour program on it called ‘I am” It was produced in 2010 I think, so it has been out for a little while.
Although the concept of Holism is not new, and it is interesting, I just have a hard time understanding why, if it is even accurate, it is important.
The main point is that all life, and maybe even consciousness, is connected. OK, so what does that mean in pragmatic terms? How does that benefit us as a species having knowledge of such a concept?
The show pointed out that human genetics is 99% the same as our closest primate relative the Chimpanzee. No informed person today questions that. We also have many genes in common with Corn and Bacteria. OK, nobody that studies genetics would question that. But how does that help us?
I think Holism confuses connection with descent. We have known for a long time now about common descent, and even intelligent design propagandist fuckwits like Michael Behe admit that they agree with common descent. Hell Darwin figured that out 160 years ago.
I have a liver. That body organ does various things such as filters blood, breaks down toxins and produces enzymes. Fish have a liver. We are connected. Actually we are descended from fish if you go back far enough. At some point we had a common ancestor, as does all life on earth. a wonderful book put out a few years ago by a wonderful scientist named Neil Shubin, elaborated on that very fact that we should understand our bauplan as our ‘inner fish’
The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Who first said that? Aristotle? Some other ancient Greek or Roman western thinking genius?
But what does that actually mean? We are connected in that is we have similarities. But we also have differences, some of them drastic. because our brains may be made u of the same sub-atomic particles as the rings of Saturn does not necessarily mean that we very much in common does it?
I think Holism is a nice philosophy of science in that it tries to draw distinctions between we humans and the universe. It tries to bridge the gap of the great schism. We are alive and the universe, as far as we can tell, is not. My liver might be genetically 70% the same as some yet to be found bacterium on Mars, but…..what does that really mean? Does it add real value to the discussion?
I am not claiming that Holism is wrong. I am just wondering what explanatory power the concept gives us as a species.