New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

Wholeness and inclusiviness

Written By: admin - Jan• 15•10

When we say that anything is a whole, we imply there is much more than a loose collection, we imply a unity of coherent parts. Every whole is made up of differences that are combined within it to constitute one totality. A purely blank unity is virtually impossible to conceive. Even the simplest of wholes, therefore is a unity of differences which in some discernible way intermesh, interlock and interrelate systematically. In brief, there is essentially an ordering principle universally determining the interrelations of the elements so that it determines likewise their intrinsic natures, for each must be adapted and adjusted to its neighbours, although they must inevitably differ from one another to avoid complete coincidence.

Of course, within the whole the elements contrast with each other, and therefore inevitably lead to internal conflict and provisional disunity. Naturally, finite elements tends to shun one another, emphasizing their respective exclusiveness in order to maintain their self-identities. Consequently, this conflict leads to relative chaos and contingency. This is soon overcome, and unity re-established, only when identity in and through differences is acknowledged. Nevertheless, each identity is defined by the mutual relations and differences, and they are inseparable from one another owing to their mutual implications. This overlap despite difference is what effects their integration into a single whole.

Thus, overlap together with integration of opposites in a wider whole involves self-enfoldment, because the wider whole includes the more fragmentary parts, each implying the other in its own self-maintenance. For example, in a growing embryo, the mutual implication of successive stages is more apparent, as is its explicit realization in subsequent phases of development, and the self-enfoldment of the earlier forms and processes to create emerging complexifications is unmistakable. Segmentation of primitive cells continues at the stage of specialization and functional differentiation, which again is repeated and internalised in each limb and organ. What ensues is a continuous succession of provisional realisations of the organising principle — in this case the mature organism for the embryo — in a series of wholes increasing in complexity and integration. In other words, elements are double-edged, in at once excluding each other in mutual opposition, and also being complementary to each other in mutual determination and dependence for their several identities. In each, the other is implicit, representing the wholeness principle in a comprehensive way. Such a system is ‘open’ and cannot thus be present in any one instant or at any one point. It is not a static but dynamic principle — forbidding both isolation and repetition in abstract manner. The finite element drives itself to transcend its own limits in order to persist in its own being.

Thus the dynamic organising principle of wholeness, inorganic or organic, is operative and directive throughout the hierarchy of forms and phases, impelling its partial elements and rudimentary phases towards completion and fulfilment. In this way it leads to the emergence in intelligent behaviour and interpretative understanding, which is the activity of awareness. It is this self-awareness which is reflected in thinking processes, and the ability to comprehend the whole as a cognitive state of coherent experiencing. In short, both ontology and teleology — dialectics and holism — are necessarily inseparable concepts.

Traditionally teleology referred to some final end. Today, however, because of the ordering principle of an organised whole, teleological explanation is one in which the parts are seen in terms of the whole and not vice versa. It is opposite of reductionism, requiring conscious intention and deliberate choice towards and completion and fulfilment towards a whole. Thus purposive action, described as action by design, is revealed as the endeavour to complete a whole and to bring it to fulfilment. Processes below the level of human purpose, however, may well be teleological without involving any consciousness, but are determined nevertheless by the ordering principle of wholeness, towards intelligent self-awareness. The Universe is designed with the goal of generating intelligent observers, leading logically beyond to some supra-personality. This now is exemplified and seen in the relationships between the parts, between energy and matter, between the inorganic and the organic, between body and mind (Harris:op.cit.).

The unity of the universe and the exact nature of the organising principle that governs its order and structure are clearly not indifferent to the emergence and the existence of life and mind. Of all this, nothing is brought home to us than our ability to discover it. It is not because we are here that the world comes to be so disposed, but rather the opposite. In other words, it is because the world is thus ordered, because the terrestrial environment is so precisely suited to the emergence of life and the development of a biosphere, that human beings have evolved and we are able to investigate the conditions of our own being. Our observation and reflection are not the efficient causes of what they reveal to us although, perhaps, they may well be its final cause.

The unity of the physical world seems, as it were, to focus itself on the implication of this intrinsic order from the very start. The point to note is the concurrence and convergence of conditions for intelligent life within a coherent system. Of course, its explanation may be attributed to a divine creator, or to natural explanation for these interrelationships even though so far no precise values of the fundamental constants has been worked out. What it does show is that there is an interdependence of fact — things — and processes that forbids any attempts to explain matters purely by analysis and reduction to detail (necessary though it maybe). We must look at the whole for an understanding of the parts. For example, one may see the unbroken continuity between the inorganic and the organic, in a way opposites yet complementary. The influence of universal is transmitted uninterrupted, through forms of growing complication and self-enfoldment, along a scale of increasing degrees of adequacy in its exemplification, which guarantees that life is the fruition of what is already potentially present in the physical. Its emergence is simply the continuation of an already-evident tendency to build more integral, more versatile, and more self-maintaining wholes.

If the life-world is all inclusive, and normally the world, as perceived by common sense, is regarded as ‘external’ to the mind, it is because at that level ‘the mind’ is imagined as a function of the brain and is objectified along with the body. The subsequent attempt to explain consciousness that is seen as a result of the transmission from external objects of physical impulses through the senses to the brain, therefore naturally proves incoherent. Consequently, it has brought in the history of philosophy only epistemological disaster. What has been overlooked is the self-transcendent character of consciousness, aware at once of the presented object and of its own relation to it. Thus, as it distinguishes subject from object, it also grasps their relation within the whole, which together they constitute. The mind, become self-conscious, is capable of developing the implications of such holism in philosophical reflection.

The world disclosed in observation and interpreted in science and philosophy reveals itself as dialectical scale of forms, primarily in experience, ranging from sentience through perception and reflection to comprehension. This is why we cannot get outside the consciousness that arises from primitive sentience. But why is it that the life-world is an all-inclusive whole? It is because the physical world, not speaking only of science, is indeed an all-inclusive whole —- finite but unbounded — outside of which there is nothing. The experienced world is that same whole become aware of itself. What ‘corresponds’ to it, therefore, are simply the prior phases of its own development. These go back beyond sentience for the very reason that sentience has revealed itself as the form of the body, the reflection and registration of organismic activity, integral to the biosphere and rooted in a physio-chemical environment. The object of the mind is, therefore, its own self in becoming, and the subject is no less than the world come consciousness of itself. Subject and object are identical, and fact corresponds to theory just so far as the theory is what the fact itself has become in bringing itself to consciousness. This conclusion reveals itself in reflection upon science and experience in general at the philosophical stage.

Throughout the course of the above argument one has traced wholes in hierarchical progression, and each succeeding whole has brought with it a new form — in the scale of forms — carrying a supervening quality not displayed at previous levels. The complex wholes that appear at every level display the emergent quality and the new capacities of life, impossible at any of the prior stages. Life is the form assumed by the integrated metabolic processes.

Now, when these develop and combine as physiological processes, integrated by vascular and neural functioning at a new threshold of intensity, a further form emerges, namely, sentience. Atoms and molecules are energy systems, and it is the form of the energetic complex that displays the peculiar properties. The proposition now being advanced is that this integration of physiological processes at a high degree of complexity and intensity assumes a new form, the experience of feeling. And this new form is sentience or feeling. Perhaps it could as well be called a distinct ‘state’ of the system, as gaseous, liquid, and solid are distinct states of chemical substances.

This doctrine has the advantage of disposing once and for all the problems attendant upon body-mind dualism. There is indeed only one reality but that it displays itself in a series of forms with different degrees of unity and wholeness. At each successive level, the entity or entities concerned display different qualities and capacities, although they presuppose and involve all the prior forms and degrees of actualization. When we reach the level of mind, these qualities are sensory, as at every prior level they are not. In this way one may say that there is a duality of degree in intensity of integration between the exclusively physiological, and a corresponding duality of qualitative form, but there is no dualism of substantive existence. The reference is to the continuity of the dynamic principle and its energia, its organizing activity, operating at successive levels — becoming aware of itself and its own spontaneous activity at every stage structured as a scale of forms — the physical spatio-temporal field, the biotic morphogenetic field, and now the psychical field (Stiskin:1972).

Based on “Holistic Science and Consciousness”, written by S. C. Malik for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

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