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1. any doctrine that a system may have properties over and above those of its parts and their organization
2. the treatment of any subject as a whole integrated system, esp, in medicine, the consideration of the complete person, physically and psychologically, in the treatment of a disease
3. Philosophy one of a number of methodological theses holding that the significance of the parts can only be understood in terms of their contribution to the significance of the whole and that the latter must therefore be epistemologically prior


  1. any form of sociological theory which emphasizes the primacy of ‘social structure’, ‘social system’, etc., in determining social outcomes, and in sociological explanations. The opposite position is METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM. As used by POPPER (1957), the term is mainly a pejorative one. see also SITUATIONAL LOGIC.
  2. in a more neutral sense, the tendency of sociology, in contrast with other more specialized social sciences, to maintain an all-inclusive view of social phenomena.



an idealist philosophy of “wholes.” The term was introduced by J. Smuts in his Holism and Evolution (1926).

According to holism, the world is governed by a process of creative evolution, or the process of creating new “wholes.” In the course of evolution, the forms of matter are transformed and renewed, never remaining constant; the holistic process rejects the law of conservation of matter. An unperceived, nonmaterial field, similar to Leibnitz’ monad, which remains constant throughout all of an organism’s changes, is considered to be the bearer of all organic attributes. The “whole” is interpreted in holism as the highest philosophical concept, which synthesizes in itself the objective and the subjective; it is considered to be the “last reality of the universe.” According to holism, the highest concrete form of organic “whole” is the human personality. Imparting a mystical character to the “factor of wholeness,” holism considers it to be nonmaterial and unknowable.

Holistic ideas have been developed by A. Meyer-Abich in Germany and A. Leman in France. In modern Western literature the term is sometimes used to designate the principle of integrity.


Bogomolov, A. S. Ideia razvitiia v burzhuaznoi filosofii 19 i 20 vekov. Moscow, 1962.
Kremianskii, V. I. Strukturnye urovni zhivoi materii. Moscow, 1969.
Haldane, J. S. The Philosophical Basis of Biology. London, 1931.



The view that the whole of a complex system, such as a cell or organism, is functionally greater than the sum of its parts. Also known as organicism.
References in periodicals archive ?
Rest of the participants fallen in G-5 which had characteristics of low prior knowledge, high WMC and deep holist.
Overall, the book offers a dense but systematic analysis of the transition from social to stakeholder citizenship and illuminates the deep challenges progressive greens face in articulating claims to justice within the contemporary holist culture that normative greens have sought to advance.
The present study supports previous research concerning personification and the holist vs.
Property theorists can typically be described as either reductionists or holists.
As a holist, he asks us to be open not only to unfamiliar perspectives but also to the possibility that they will force us to reformulate our precepts.
Mihaela Frunza's preferences go to Goran Lantz, with his applied holist ethics.
The regulation approach has a holist vision, whose departure point is located in the social relations.
The above results merely indicate that neither reductionist nor holist work contains the whole answer to a question and thus proves that neither can survive alone.
Using the writings of Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Holmes Rolston III, and Warwick Fox as representative, Kheel (visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union) criticizes holist nature philosophy as being concerned with "species," "the ecosystem," or "the biotic community" while neglecting individual beings.
holist or analyst, meaning that to the analyst the entire content is presented consequently in contrast to the presentation of the content to the holist, where an overview of chapters and subchapters along with summaries is optionally offered.