PRACTICAL HOLISM

FlowsIn Practical Holism we learn to recognize the flows through the system and how they are affected by human choices.  We all build bridges to direct the flows, the best we can, for our own purposes, but alone we are separate and vulnerable in a dangerous world.

 

We form organizations to protect ourselves from the dangers of the world and those organizations create bridges, the best they can, for the purposes of the organization, and that process creates another set of dangers through the competition and conflict between groups.

 

An understanding of the world from an individual point of view is considered a 1st dimensional understanding.  An understanding of the world from the point of view of a business, or a nation, or a religion, is considered a 2nd dimensional point of view.  But, when we consider all these human bridges, and all the bridges nature builds in ecosystems, we understand the flow to cycle through the whole set of bridges.  An understanding of the world from this 'point of view of the whole' is considered a 3rd dimensional understanding.

 

In 3 dimensions, it is clear that our individual bridges derive from all the other bridges.  Our niche in the economy and our niche in the ecosystem cannot exist without all the other bridges that exist.  Our individual well being and the well being of our groups is inseparable from the well being of all the people, plants and creatures whose bridges support the flows across our bridges.

 

Change in the system occurs when new bridges are built or when existing bridges are abandoned.    We consider this process of increasing bridges or decreasing bridges as an expansion or contraction of the whole set of bridges.  Like a balloon expanding or contracting, it is an enhancement or diminishment of the whole.  And, from this point of view, we enhance the whole when new bridges create new niches and we diminish the whole when the loss of bridges eliminates the potential for new bridges.  We observe this process as complexity spirals.

 

Fly OverWe consider the whole to be the physical/social/ecological/economic flows generated and directed by both natural processes and human choices.  It is a single pattern of flows over which humans exert considerable influence as a function of the cumulative effect of all the choices every individual human makes.  And here we come to understand our individual power to create the world as we come to understand the world in three dimensions and choose to build new bridges that enhance the whole.

 

When we come to understand our power to create the world we find, all around us, the resources to build new bridges.  Every neighborhood has unmet needs and unused resources just waiting for the bridge that will allow the unused resources to meet those unmet needs.  And when we come to actually build those bridges we find that we can apply the principles of complexity spirals to create many new niches.  And where, applying those principles, we use each resource to accomplish many purposes we consider these to be integrated systems of production.

 

It is through this process, the intentional creation of new bridges applying a 3 dimensional understanding of complexity spirals, in neighborhoods around the planet, that we will create the world we all desire.  A world designed to meet the needs of many different kinds of people, plants and creatures.

 

Table of Contents

Bridges

3 Dimensional Understanding

Complexity Spirals

Integrated Systems of Production

Principles of Practical Holism

 

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  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
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