Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The theory that living matter or reality is made up of organic or unified wholes that are greater than the simple sum of their parts.
  • n. A holistic investigation or system of treatment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A theory or belief that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • n. A practice based on such theory or belief.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in their relation to the whole

Etymologies

From hol- (“whole, entire, total”) + -ism. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In nature life and death occur all the time and often as not there's nothing needful about death; that sort of "circle of life" holism is strictly Disney stuff.

    Elderly Women Charged With Beating Fawn To Death

  • This is an expression of holism, but in Vedic philosophy, holism is imbued with spirituality.

    The Power of Vastu Living

  • Too many of us fail to extend the definition of holism so that it includes humanity.

    The Power of Vastu Living

  • This claim emerges as the consequence of the core particularist doctrine, which we can call the holism of reasons.

    Moral Particularism

  • This requires a collation of the word's actual uses and an inference from these to the rules that govern them, i.e. to their usages, a collation which in turn requires looking to remoter contexts in which the same word occurs (other parts of the text, other works in the author's corpus, works by other contemporaries, etc.), or in short: holism. (c)

    Johann Gottfried von Herder

  • Your décor blends into a meaningful visual expression of holism, which is so important to vastu living and the world in which we live.

    The Power of Vastu Living

  • Given what is called the holism of the mental, a holism both of abstract belief systems, and of concrete, personal life histories, you couldn't alter either just by tampering piecemeal. (obviously you could by damaging the brain so severely that the person became incapable of coherent thought or speech, actually wiping out wholesale the capacity to remember, believe, feel as others normally do, and the person specifically had done.)

    open Democracy News Analysis - Comments

  • Unfortunately, these are used to dismiss the weird conjunctive picture of Quine's holism, which is obviously bad.

    Words and Other Things

  • [A] prime theme (or principle) of Veblen's is that of institutional holism, which is advanced in various ways in all his works, but ... especially in

    Concurring Opinions

  • Perhaps these, too, are not a result of direct causal connections, but rather a manifestation of some kind of holism or nonseparability?

    Holism and Nonseparability in Physics

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