Author: Virgil Seutter
Date:     October 8, 1997
Parent Node:

4.0  Holism: Terminology and Culture: Defining the Phenomenon  (4.0)

4.1. The turn of the century saw a change in thinking. Science was moving on, expanding its knowledge-base by exploring more dynamic theories to replace the static, deterministic viewpoint of the world. It saw the emergence of Charles Darwin (1859) and the theory of evolution, Henri Becquerel (1896) and the theory of radioactivity, and Albert Einstein (1905) and the theory of relativity. The mechanistic theories of Newton (1687) and the pre-Darwinian world were soon challenged by the theory of an "evolving dynamic whole" rather than the limited "atomistic" theories that focused on the parts, rather than the whole to which it belonged..

4.2. It was in the early century that Jan Christiaan Smuts  (1920's) coined the word "holism" to categorize these dynamic theories. Taken from the Greek word "holo," the term has prevailed to the present. Taken further, it has probably influenced the thinking that has advanced the new theories in complexity science that defines the possibility of a superimposed function on top of, or coexisting with, a structural component.

4.3. The advancement of science lies in the recognition that old theories serve only as a stepping-stone to other possibilities. Progress in science is not restricted to pure technical accomplishment. It is influenced by cultural factors as well. Advancement in science is partly dependent upon how man views change.

4.4. Change for science in the early twentieth century was influenced by cultural changes. It was a time when men dreamed dreams. It was a time influenced by people like Rudyard Kipling (1899), Mahatma Gandhi (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1915) and the League of Nations. It was the enchantment with foreign lands and dominance in the power of nations. It was the improprieties in the struggle for freedom and self-determination. No longer did the dynamic theories of science apply only to technical interrelationships, but man and his role to nations, the parts to the wholes, was challenged.

4.5. It was here, too, that D.D.Palmer  (1895) (4.5) introduced chiropractic to the world. How much the vitalist notions of the day influenced his thinking is speculative. How much the culture of today influences our thinking on holistic care is also speculative. Perhaps the ultimate question is "How do we study holism as a science?"

Seutter, V. "Commentary: Holism, Alternative Medicine, and Why Chiropractic Embraces It. Holism: Terminology and Culture: Defining the Phenomenon" Chiropractic Resource Organization. 8 Oct 1997. ChiroZine ISSN1525-4550 (c) 1997-2001 All rights reserved.

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(c) 1997 Chiropractic Resource Organization. All Rights Reserved. Reprint by permission.

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