Holism and Evolution

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Smuts in 1947

Holism and Evolution is a 1926 book by South African statesman Jan Smuts, in which he coined the word "holism",[1][2] although Smuts' meaning is different from the modern concept of holism.[3] Smuts defined holism as the "fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholes in the universe."[4]

The book was part of a broader trend of interest in holism in European and colonial academia during the early twentieth century.[1] Smuts' philosophy of holism was based in the thoughts behind his earlier book Walt Whitman: A Study in the Evolution of Personality, written during his time in Cambridge.[5][6] He described a "process-orientated, hierarchical view of nature" and has been influential among criticisms of reductionism.[3] Smuts' formulation of holism has also been linked with his political-military activity, especially his aspiration to create a league of nations.[7]


  1. ^ a b Ton Otto; Nils Bubandt (2 August 2011). Experiments in Holism: Theory and Practice in Contemporary Anthropology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-4443-5185-9.
  2. ^ Freeman J (2005). "Towards a definition of holism". Br J Gen Pract. 55 (511): 154–5. PMC 1463203. PMID 15720949.
  3. ^ a b Poynton, J.C. (1987). "Smuts's Holism and Evolution sixty years on". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 46 (3): 181–189. doi:10.1080/00359198709520121.
  4. ^ J.C. Smuts (1927). Holism and evolution. Рипол Классик. ISBN 978-5-87111-227-4.
  5. ^ Jan C Smuts: Walt Whitman – a Study in the Evolution of Personality, Wayne State University Press 1973
  6. ^ Hancock – Smuts: 1. The Sanguine Years, 1870–1919, p. 28
  7. ^ Crafford, F.S. (1943). Jan Smuts: A Biography. Kessinger Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 1-4179-9290-5.