Organismic Approach

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Organismic Approach


a methodological principle that is one of the forms of the holistic approach to the study of objects in organic nature.

The organismic approach is based on the idea that an organism possesses specific attributes that account for its wholeness and that it possesses particular laws of organization that can only be discovered by viewing the organism as a whole. The approach became popular at the end of the 19th century, when discoveries in biology and psychology were shown to be in clear contradiction to the postulates of both mechanism, which reduced the organism to the sum of its component cells, molecules, and atoms, and neovitalism, which sought to renew the search for a nonmaterial “vital principle.”

Specific examples of the organismic approach were the theories of organicism, Gestalt psychology, holism, emergent evolution, and organic indeterminism. Some of these theories (especially organicism) were entirely materialist in character, while others included elements of idealism and mysticism in addition to positive methodological ideas (as in holism and the theory of emergent evolution). Practically speaking, all of these concepts have died out. However, the basic ideas of the organismic approach continue to play a constructive role in two ways: their subject matter has been further developed in the theory of integrative levels of organization, and their methodological background has become part of the systems approach.


Kremianskii, V. I. Strukturnye urovni zhivoi materii. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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