Wholeness – perceiving dynamic unity – Louise Livingstone
Abstract: While the ancient Greeks saw wholeness as essential for recognising the many (Klein, 1968; Lowry, 1980), modern culture has a different perception of the whole and the parts; where wholeness lies hidden behind ‘the many’ (Franses, 2016). In today’s analytical mode of consciousness, the parts create the whole – proceeding in linear fashion from one element to another (Bortoft, 1996). While traditional Western science is currently dominated by ‘reductionism’ – explaining wholes in terms of their parts (Sheldrake, 2013) – as a discourse, holistic science creates conditions to rediscover wholeness through the parts by developing a holistic mode of consciousness (Bortoft, 1996). Inspired by Goethean Science, phenomenology, and modern advancements in quantum theory (Franses, 2016), a holistic approach to the world considers the importance of relationship – i.e., that understanding the whole and the part lies not in their abstraction, but in their dynamic relationship. This paper shows that real engagement with wholeness is made possible by cultivating a different mode of perception which is able to move dynamically between two modes of consciousness (Bortoft, 1996; Kastrup, 2015; McGilchrist, 2009). From such a point of view, perception of the world can neither be categorised into the whole nor the part; rather, it suggests a paradoxical process within which unity of the whole and the part can be conceived as the same phenomenon. While not without its problems, such a different way of seeing could have deep implications for how the modern West currently engages with global challenges.