Holistic science and the overcoming of separation

Indigenous populations, and early civilizations, did not know a separation between spirituality and matter. All was intertwined, and everything sacred.

That was at large extent also true for our own civilizations up to the scientific revolution. However, the religious institutions of the Middle Age increasingly were not able to explain things to curious humans; Galilei and the likes were making observations that differed from the canonical views of the Church. And with the advent of Descartes and his fellow philosophers, humanity introduced a fundamental schism between the self and the outer world, the self and the environment, the self and nature. Progressively we started to understand ourselves as individuals, separated from our surroundings – and then also from each other. The world entered a mechanistic world view, in which things were tried to be explained without the need of a god (although it is important to point out that the first scientists, like Newton, very much could see a place for God in their investigations).

It was a logical evolution of our thinking that if there was no divinity involved, that things needed to work “somehow”, and the analogy to a machine was obvious. Throughout the following centuries, we thus have refined this world view; we have created ever sophisticated machines, dissected things into ever smaller pieces, from atoms to disciplines to taxonomies of plants, animals, things. We came up with geology, biology, engineering, physics, psychology, chemistry, and strictly separated them from arts and social sciences – not to speak of morality or spirituality.

We thought we could measure and master everything.

However, we are finding out that the world is not a machine. That things play together, and in fact are all part of the same Oneness.

This is an inevitable realization of our quest for truth. As soon as we split particles and found no more smaller entities, but probabilities and uncertainty, a new science began to arise. A holistic science, a science of qualities, a science of the human as a holon; an entity in itself but embedded in an infinity of other holons, and itself built up by an equal infinity of smaller holons.

We will witness now a dramatic shift from pieces to wholes, it is inevitable and will be accompanied with turmoil and unpredictability, as we are leaving a mindset which no longer fits what we observe and experience, but we have not yet found what’s next.

Interesting times. The environmental degradation has been a logical consequence of viewing things as confined, limited, with boundaries. And with ourselves separated from nature, we were no longer embedded in its cycles and thus it seems also from this point of view more than logical that we just dump stuff into the oceans, the atmosphere, the land.

Only when we internalize broadly how interconnected everything is, we will be starting to move away from seeing short-term cycles. What machines might we devise, when we think of our creations as embedded in the whole of the planet? Or even the universe? We might create living machines, which plug into life’s secrets, but as we are aware of the connections, these “organisms” might enrich the web of life, not destroy them.

What can we achieve when we drop the separation between arts and engineering? Why is an artist an artist and an engineer is not? Art is a word that in its etymology describes a skill, a craft, an activity. Everything we do could be art… It is our innate gift as humans that we are able to create. We are bound to re-create this world, in a way we can not yet imagine, because this imagination is emerging as we speak. It is a collective imagination, a consciousness of things as interconnected, and if seen that way, we cannot do anything else as to care, and not only care for beings, but also create in a way that nourishes and develops this same consciousness. When we internalize that everything is interconnected, and as we are re-discovering how playful, joyful and enriching collaboration, sharing, community and mutual support are, a new way of living on earth might mature, one where terms like economy or capitalism will become meaningless. A way where we share values as inhabitants of this fantastic planet, where we strive for the good of all beings. We’ll still be humans, we’ll still suffer heart ache and pain from love, loss, disillusions, we’ll still be hit by natural catastrophes or calamities; but we might be using our talents to cooperate rather than compete.

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