quick reflection on the concept of “holism”

The Fragile SpeciesHolism is a fundamental construct of the Alexander Technique, but the word is cheapened by new age nostrums and advertising. Who among us does not feel Whole, and maybe even Holy after a trip to Whole Foods to buy ourselves the most Earthy, *Truthy,* Healthy (not to mention Pricey) items? Whole is a term that has lost it’s integrity. Lewis Thomas writes, “The word “holistic” was invented in the 1920’s by General Jan Smuts [who ever he/she may be] to provide shorthand for the almost self-evident truth that any living organism, and perhaps any collection of organisms, is something more than the sum of its’ working parts.” He goes on to say, “The word is becoming trendy, a buzzword, almost lost to science. What is called holistic thought these days strikes me as more like the transition from a mind like a steel trap to a mind like steel wool.” And yet, given all that, the mind, the body, the complete self is inherently “whole” and deserves a scientific framing – it is possible to study systems. You might free your shoulder, or free your mind, but you are always looking at how that effects the network of being.

–The Fragile Self, Lewis Thomas, pp 72-73.

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