Holonic Framing

(Adapted from Piero Mella 2009) 


If we observe the world and universe surrounding us, there is a whole/part relationship between “entities”, which we must be aware of and appreciate.


Atoms, molecules, cells, individuals, ecosystems or people, businesses, economies... should not be seen as autonomous and independent entities, but as a whole–composed of smaller interacting parts–that are also an interacting part of a larger whole (see images above).


This is referred to as Holon, which derives from the word "holos", whole, and the suffix "on", which means particle or part (as in proton, neutron and electron).



To put it another way:


"a Holon is any object or concept observable on three levels:


1. as an autonomous and independent entity that acts according to its own general behavioural principles and rules;


2. as a whole entity (system), possessing emerging properties, with respect to the component parts that it transcends; and


3. as a part of a vaster whole that conditions it." (P5)



By applying this whole/part observational relationship systemically, the world appears as a hierarchy of holons, or a Holarchy.  At each hierarchical level, holons experience the effects of the structural or operational variations of the holons from which it is composed, which, in turn, produce variations in the behaviour of the superior holons of which it is a part.


Coined by Arthur Koestler’s back in 1967, it is a systems approach to help think holistically, which is gaining recognition across the world.