Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daniel Monti, M.D on The Mind-Body Connection

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.

The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts".
Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. For example, the processes of biology are reducible to chemistry and the laws of chemistry are explained by physics.

Reductionism can either mean (a) an approach to understand the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.  This can be said of objects, phenomena, explanations, theories, and meanings.

Reductionism is strongly related to a certain perspective on causality. In a reductionist framework, phenomena that can be explained completely in terms of other, more fundamental phenomena, are called epiphenomena. Often there is an implication that the epiphenomenon exerts no causal agency on the fundamental phenomena that explain it.

Reductionism does not preclude emergent phenomena but it does imply the ability to understand the emergent in terms of the phenomena from and process(es) by which it emerges.

Religious reductionism generally consists of "explaining away" religion or boiling it down to certain nonreligious causes. A few examples of reductionistic attempts to explain away religion are the view that religion could be reduced to humanity’s conceptions of right and wrong, the belief that religion is fundamentally a primitive attempt at controlling our environments, or the opinion of religion as a way to explain the world around us. Typical religious reductionist are such theorists as Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer.  Sigmund Freud's idea that religion is nothing more than an illusion, or even a mental illness, and the Marxist view that religion is "the sigh of the oppressed" providing only "the illusory happiness of the people," are two other influential reductionist explanations of religion.

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