On the Path from the Darkness of Crises to the Light of Freedom

This is a well-written article, with the exception that I disagree “that it [the whole] is more than the sum of its parts”. Nevertheless, the gist of what is being said is valid. This ‘sum-is-greater-than-whole’ is a favorite phrase of so-called ‘natural health’ or the ‘holistic’ approach…the whole can never be more than the sum of its parts, which I don’t believe that Steiner actually ever held that concept as he fully understood what Goethe was talking about in his concept of the archetype. We actually must go into the parts in order to understand the whole, as the whole is a ‘becoming of’. Yet we cannot apply an arithmetic value to the parts, for if we did then we would have to say that the whole exists only because of its parts; in other words, if this is true, then the whole is secondary to the parts – which it is not. In actuality the whole being was conceived as an idea (the archetype) before the individual parts came into physicality. Reductionist science is valid…the problem is that it stops there and never moves “upstream” (Henri Bortoft) in its thinking, it fails to see the whole reflected as a hologram in its parts.

A Striving Monistic Thinker's Blog

A fundamental limitation of most modern science approaches is the undeniable possibility of a future discovery that can overturn existing theories. The overlooking of this possibility lies at the root of many modern world crises. These crises can be overcome only when science reforms its approach so that every understanding gained is firmly rooted in reality.

Anyone who goes through life with a conscious observant eye and a thinking mind must realize that, despite its plentiful and glorious achievements, humankind is facing multiple crises. These manifest themselves in seemingly all aspects of society, including education, health care, environment, agriculture, economy, and relationships from interpersonal to international.

In all of their striving, modern sciences have been trying to understand observed phenomena using various models or theories. These models start with certain presuppositions about the entities in the phenomena, and efforts are made to explain the phenomena in question by means of logical…

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7 thoughts on “On the Path from the Darkness of Crises to the Light of Freedom

  1. Thank you very much for posting my article!

    I hope you don’t mind I duplicate my response to your comment here.

    I agree that in many cases, it is necessary to go into the parts and observe them to understand the whole. These observations are part of all observations we can make about the whole entity itself. Being holistic doesn’t disallow observations on the parts — it just disallows making any understanding/conclusion based on the particular parts alone, because observations on the parts alone are never sufficient to derive any logical understanding about the whole.

    In my opinion, because reductionism never moves “upstream”, it is not only incomplete, but also invalid. Because as I said, one cannot derive any logical understanding about the whole based only on observations about its parts — any understanding about the whole thus made is invalid. And because any part exists only in a whole, no valid understanding about the parts can be made either from observations about the parts alone.

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  2. The last sentence of my comment does not apply to cases where the part is complete in itself even though it is part of a larger whole. For example, a human being in the whole universe is a complete being. Understanding about him can be gained by observing him alone (without observing other things outside him in the universe). But a heart in the body is not a complete part. Any understanding about the heart, in order to be valid, must based on observations on the whole body (and the heart).

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    • Hi again, now time to reply!
      I may not have stated myself very clearly (and probably should not write anything when I’m crunched for time!). I did not mean to imply that one can discern things about the whole based upon observation of a single part, such as in your example, one cannot tell everything about the whole human being by looking only at his heart – I completely agree with that. However, if we recognize that the parts are holographic of the whole then we can see that one can really only come to know the whole by going into the parts…i.e. one cannot stand back and observe the whole and really know anything about it without going back upstream, which means going into the parts. What I am not talking about here is an abstract thinking that divides things into pieces which tend to act separately, what I am talking about is a dynamical interaction of the parts with the whole. Goethe started with the object – a finished product, so for instance – a plant. Then he went into the parts…a leaf of said plant; in exact sensorial imagination he saw the dynamic movement of that leaf, another leaf, and so on until they unfolded into the whole. Then he began to see the dynamical movement of the whole plant. Parts are not a fragmentation of the unity they are a holograph of it – multiplicity in the unity, and that is the key to understanding the relationship of the parts to the whole (at least from my perspective).
      What reductionism (mainstream approach to science, including ‘mainstream’ natural health) does is to fragment the whole into parts and thus treat the parts as separate entities (I think we are in agreement on this part), it goes FROM the parts TO the whole (the ‘summing up’ concept) – and that I completely agree is useless, i.e. not valid. What Goethean science does is go from the whole INTO the parts, and this is what Bortoft called “going upstream”. But for those of us that can use this current incarnation of ‘reductionism’ that pervades science without losing sight of the dynamical interface with the whole, then we can extrapolate valid theories from it and thus render some validity to the process, that is what I meant when I said it can be valid. Obviously the best way would be to intentionally approach science as Goethe did, however human consciousness as a whole is not yet there. And as Steiner said, humankind has to go thru this period of materialism/reductionism in order to evolve. What I try to do is not throw the baby out with the bath water and actually derive some benefit from it (research) that I can then mold into my understanding which is steeped in Goethean science. Or to put it bluntly, I take advantage of others’ published research work as I simply don’t have the capacity to do it all.

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      • Hi Sarah, I agree with all you said. I think what you and I said are consistent with each other. 🙂 Please correct if you think I’m wrong.

        Sorry for misunderstanding what you meant by “going upstream”.

        I think the usual meaning of “reductionism” is that it has already lose sight of the dynamical interface with the whole. But this is not an important point to decide here…

        I agree that humanity will take time to fully absorb Goethe’s and Anthroposophical path of knowledge. But as a whole, humanity needs to awake and start NOW going on the path with much more intensity than what it’s doing now (still being deep in reductionism) because the crises are becoming so worse and worse by day. (And I think you would also agree with me on this).

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      • Yep, I think we are on the same page! And absolutely humanity needs to begin to awaken now…that’s why I do what I do, my tiny little contribution. And your contribution. And others. Hopefully these all add up. A lot of work to be done! Thanks for this – don’t get many comments. 🙂

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