August 2, 2012 in Smart thinking
My involvement in business education keeps my interest alive in the mental toolkit we need to be responsible, acute, perceptive and discerning managers / leaders… well just human beings. If you guys click back, you will find my previous posts on the hugely stimulating book: This will make you smarter by John Brockman ( http://www.amazon.com/This-Will-Make-You-Smarter/dp/0062109391/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343891837&sr=8-1&keywords=this+will+make+you+smarter ).
I was most surprised to find one of the concepts highlighted to be ” holism,” by Nicholas Chirstakis a physician and social scientist at Harvard and the author of The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives. Surprised? Yes, holism was the term coined by one of the giants of South African history, Field Marshall Jan Smuts in his book Holism and evolution (1926), in which he attempted to integrate Darwin with the (then) latest developments in physics, notably Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Christakis argues for the concept of holism as a necessary counterbalance to our analytical thinking which involves breaking things into ever smaller bits to understand them. The converse direction is more difficult, he says, trying to understand how composition creates something beyond the sum of the parts.
I found it fascinating that a 90 year old concept conceived in a modest corrugated sink house near Irene on the outskirts of Pretoria in South Africa – and scribbled in the midst of a tumultuous public life – could still be a valid tool in the contemporary mindset.