Nature's Holism has evolved and
continues to do so. For a guide
through a condensed version of Nature's Holism, go to the synposis
and follow the links in the top right corner. The book, Nature's Holism
(or ecotaoism ) provides an ecological model as an alternative to
the "competitive" theory of evolution.
In 2006, the ideas found in
Nature's Holism are now 20 years old. For a guide
through a condensed version, go to the synposis
and follow the links in the top right corner.
Nature's Holism - ecology and evolution:
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- ENTER "NO FRAMES VERSION" ECOTAOISM (co-evolution).
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We will examine how species associated within the same habitat or ecosystem evolve ( coevolution ) so as not to destroy the ecosystem upon which they depend for their success and survival. I will show you a holistic view of nature and ecosystems. You will see how the interdependence between long-associated (coadapted) species within an ecosystem affects the ecological structure of natural systems.
Natural selection acts upon a
creature within a specific niche in
nature. The animal's biology is defined by this environment - its form,
physiology and behaviour are shaped by the complexity of the natural world. As
well as physical fitness, an animal requires "ecofitness" - adaptations
that reduce the impact of the the species upon the habitat that it
ENTER "NO FRAMES VERSION" ECOTAOISM (co-evolution).
states that any organism perpetuates its kind in association with the
other life forms (or cultures), causing a holistic feedback response
from all associated species within the ecosystem. Along with numerical
perpetuation as a species (or culture), is the moderating feedback from
(or necessary compatibility with) other organisms (or cultures) that
depend upon a shared ecosystem, habitat or resource. While the drive to
perpetuate is aggressive and takes from the environment, consuming
resources or impacting on species and cultures, the associated need for
environmental compatibility originates from feedback forces from the
environment due to the interdependence of organisms within an
ecosystem. This is epitomised by the association of the bee and the
flower a physical example of the outcome of this process in nature and
can be called ecofitness.
Holism derives from the fact that all the interacting species are
dependent upon the same habitat.
Some excerpts and quotes from this ecology and evolution site:
"Evolutionary processes lead naturally to interactions and behaviour that provide a degree of compatibility between long-associated organisms, termed ecofitness. An ecofit animal exhibits behaviour reducing its effect upon the habitat or ecosystem upon which it depends for survival."
"Perpetuity and compatibility represent two different projections of
the same idea or complex - a single indivisible process in operation."
" Holism does not challenge religions, but points to a more harmonious way of life that respects and preserves God's Creation."
"By "Holism" I mean that nature shows an interdependence expressed as a reciprocity between long-associated organisms (living plants and animals), forming a natural panoply."
"Life forms are selected for (through natural selection), that have a common behavioural and physical characteristic; that is they conform to a COMMON PRINCIPLE defined by our material universe. This is the principle of compatibility or ecofitness, which leads one to a holistic conception, and is reflected in a behavioural strategy of the animal that ensures its perpetuation (survival). Smuts describes this principle as Holism."
"Smuts recognised in the discoveries of the New Physics of 1926, an important HOLISTIC principle: "the structural character of matter indicates that it is also creative, not of its own stuff, but of the forms, (chemical) arrangements, and patterns which constitute all its value in the physical sphere."" Holism is sourced in the very nature of the elements.
"Smuts recognises what all religions call for: "how important a part moral discipline plays in the furtherance of the evolutionary holistic scheme."" Holism influences our moral and ethical culture.
Much of what Darwin said has holistic flair. There are repeated examples of this. To use his own words, he uses the term "struggle for existence" in a "metaphorical sense" "INCLUDING DEPENDENCE OF ONE BEING ON ANOTHER (equated partially with compatibility), and including not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny" (equated with PERPETUITY). "Therefore, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must always be a struggle for existence (interaction). Interactors he called "enemies or COMPETITORS."
"Instead of the animistic, or the mechanistic, or the mathematical universe, we see the genetic, organic, holistic universe, in which the decline of the earlier physical patterns provides the opportunity for the emergence of the more advanced vital and rational patterns" (Smuts, 1952)
"Smuts sees the individual personality as central to Holism and as the most recent holistic expression that has emerged through evolution. He says, "To me the holistic aspect of the universe is fundamental, and appears to be the key position both for the science and the philosophy of the future.""
"Charles Darwin observed that if any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degree (coevolution) with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated." In Holism, this last principle differs from competition in that while becoming "modified and improved," interactions are altered to reduce the effect of interactors upon one another."
"Charles Darwin introduces three principles fundamental to Holism:  the idea of co-adaptations and "complex co-adaptations of structure between one organic being and another, which we see everywhere throughout nature" (coevolution) and  the idea that interactions are economic: "natural selection is continually trying to ECONOMISE in every part of the organisation."  The importance of interactions leads to the recognition that "each new variety or species, during the progress of its formation, will generally press hardest on its nearest kindred, and tend to exterminate them." A consequence of this interaction is the evolution of decreased interactions. "The truth of the principle, that the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure, is seen under many circumstances." . . . "Natural selection will not produce absolute perfection," but does lead to improved varieties surviving."
"Holism simplifies life and causes a peaceful order."
"Natural selection in the holistic model acts upon the individual" . . . " Adaptation , when between organisms that are both evolving, leads to what appears like group selection, but is coadaptation (in its many guises)."
"Smuts' Holism presents another revolution that shall dawn upon us. As the facts of the world-view of Holism unfold we should see immense changes in our dealings with and understanding of nature. Holism will encompass every aspect of modern technology and require that we reform our association with nature and make our activities more benign."
"Holism opens the door to religion. In holism there is the possibility for the unification of the religious, evolutionary, scientific and materialistic approaches to life. Holism requires a revolutionary change in attitudes from all sides to fit each as part of a whole system. With personality as the ultimate holistic expression, as believed by Smuts, its influence must penetrate our souls and extend out to the smallest life form! In the context of this chapter, Smuts made the following observation at the age of 78, "When I look at the world unrest today and the confusion which prevails in science, in philosophy, in religion and in our whole human outlook and setup, I feel more and more that in the concept of holism we have the key to many a door, and the way to ultimate solutions. Something holistic is at the heart of things and in the nature of this universe, which is not a mere chance or random assemblement of items. The detailed things derive most of their meaning, significance and functioning from the whole of which they are but parts. They are not mere parts but really members of wholes. Both as a metaphysical and as a scientific concept the whole is basic to an understanding of the world. And in sociology and religion this is more clearly the case. Relativity is only a halfway house to this more fundamental concept" (Smuts, 1952)." A similar sentiment was expressed by Aldos Leopold , the American Environmentalist, ". . . the problem we face is the extension of the social conscience from people to land. No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions."
"Ecologists call the role of the creature, the niche of the creature. An ecological niche requires a multidimensional description of an organism's total environment and way of life. This niche includes physical factors such as temperature and moisture, biological factors such as food resources, parasites, predators and behavior, including social organisation and diurnal activities" (Lewontin, 1978). "Although we can imagine many niches, the only niches are occupied niches" (Cohen & Stuart, 1994). People retreat to nature, for recreation, recognising some type of harmony and peace there that brings peace of mind. In nature, we find relaxation, peace, aesthetic qualities, and a serenity that humanity cannot recreate in a city. There is a spiritual quality to nature that is not easily defined. An observer of animals in nature soon recognises the interdependence and balance that exists. Many have recognised this idea of the niche of an organism: "The crocodile isolated from his environment was not the same animal" (Savory, 1988). "The place of a living individual (human, animal, or plant) can be evaluated meaningfully only when it is seen in its integrative, collective, ecological context" (ecosystem) (Peet, 1992). "Every species depends on other species for food and for providing its habitat" (Diamond, 1991). "A species is what it is where it is" (Rolston, 1992). "An environment is what a creature knows - and knows in a certain way." "The creature is, in this way, part of its environment, though one could as truly say that the environment is part of it" (Cooper, 1992). "It is quite impossible to think of an organism without an environment" (Begon et al, 1986)."
On Evolutionary Biology:
A document, "Evolution, Science, and Society: a " white paper " on behalf of the field of evolutionary biology" states that "Evolutionary biology is the discipline that describes the history of life and investigates the processes that account for this history." It seeks to explain the life's diversity, the variety of organisms, their characteristics, and their changes over time. As such, biodiversity studies can be said to be part of the discipline of evolutionary biology. As a subdiscipline of evolutionary biology, this study falls within evolutionary ecology. This white paper identifies a priority research area to be "development and testing of predictive theories on the coevolution of interacting species. . ." The focus of this electronic text is on a coevolutionary mechanism.
A situation can occur in nature where some resource suddenly disappears and a population's growth rate (r) or population density is suddenly too high . . . In effect, a resource limit (environment), throws the population into chaos.
In ecosystems, the individual organisms are components of the system that interact locally to varying degrees. As a result of these interactions and the dynamic process of natural selection, a global property for the system emerges. The main property elaborated in this book is the emergence of compatibility. THIS PROPERTY OF COMPATIBILITY SYMBOLISES A FORM OF FEEDBACK THAT INFLUENCES THE BEHAVIOUR AND FORM OF THE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE INTERACTING AND EVOLVING. Order arises out of a complex dynamical system due to the constraints and limits of the system (complexity).
On religion & ecology:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle said, "There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him." (Sahih Bukhari, V 3 (39), Number 513) (Islamic religion).
Technology's future lies in close coordination with nature. Technology has the potential of becoming biological in that it forms part of the human organism that evolves and adapts to the environment, enhancing human perpetuity and compatibility with the world in which we live. We need to develop biological systems that function with minimal managerial effort, and to produce food and other items for human use with minimal environmental impact. Around such technological centres, where we manipulate nature to serve our needs, nature will flourish in all her wild freedom. Through necessity, we will have to grant nature her wilderness.
All talk of teleology is due to our subjection to time.
Science and Technology:
Society is turning to science to solve environmental and other problems through technological fixes. In terms of the principles of natural selection we are becoming more specialised. Being specialised, we are becoming more dependent upon technology for our survival and less able to adapt. Instead of forcing our way through with genetic engineering, biotechnology, nuclear fission reactors, deadly chemicals and the total replacement of ecosystems with highly mechanised and heavily fertilised monoculture-type agriculture, we need to learn nature's constraints and adapt our lifestyles to these conditions. In effect, we need to despecialise while maintaining educational and living standards as high as possible. We need to harness nature's forces, placing humanity at the center of ecosystem processes.
Kant recognises the heritable character and variation present in nature and its potential ecological consequence: "Nature organises itself, and does so in each species of its organised products - following a SINGLE PATTERN (inheritance), certainly as to general features, but ADMITTING DEVIATIONS (genetic variation) calculated to secure self-preservation (perpetuity) under particular circumstances (ecological adaptation)."
"Ecotaoism is a term used for an ancient way of life and ideas expressed within the context of modern science. It is an environmental principle based on ecology and evolution. An investigation of existing principles, has shown that the ancient Chinese Taoist forces of yin and yang are similar to the idea that I present. From this context, the term ecotaoism was coined."
"By examining how two associated species evolve (co-evolution), one arrives at a holistic view of nature where interdependence between long-associated species within an ecosystem is dominant. Ecotaoism can be called the science that studies the evolution of interdependence within ecosystems."
"An idea that does not conflict with religious or cultural beliefs,
is easy to understand, and threatens no ideology, but rather improves
chances of peace, ecological stability and environmental health, should
spread and evolve at an incredible rate."
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