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Janus: A Summing Up Arthur Koestler

Janus: A Summing Up

Arthur Koestler

Published
ISBN : 9780330258425
Paperback
354 pages
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 About the Book 

Janus: A Summing Up (1978) is a book by Arthur Koestler, in which he develops his philosophical idea of the holarchy introduced in his 1967 book, The Ghost in the Machine. The holarchy provides a coherent way of organizing knowledge and nature allMoreJanus: A Summing Up (1978) is a book by Arthur Koestler, in which he develops his philosophical idea of the holarchy introduced in his 1967 book, The Ghost in the Machine. The holarchy provides a coherent way of organizing knowledge and nature all together. The idea of the holarchy is that everything we can think of is composed of holons (simultaneously both part and whole), so that each holon is always a constituent of a larger one and yet also contains other holons that are constituents of a lower level system within. Every holon is like a two-faced Janus, the Roman god: one side (the whole) looks down (or inward)- the other side (the part) looks up (or outward). Each whole is a part of something greater, and each part is in turn an organizing whole to the elements that constitute it. Koestler believed that everything in a healthy system is organized this way, from the human body, to chemistry to the history of philosophy.The concept of holon, however, is closely integrated in Janus with the theory of complex systems as was developed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Herbert Simon, both well known investigators and friends of Koestler. Janus put together one of the first broad based arguments for incorporating the theory of complex systems into the philosophy of science and epistemology. Koestler can be said to have been well ahead of his time. Systems dynamics, as developed in parallel by Jay Forresters group at MIT, eventually became merged with the concepts of Koestlers west coast group and gave birth to the modern methodology of computer modeling of complex systems. The current achievements of outstanding practitioners such as Denis Noble, whose model known as the virtual heart is a landmark success, have a certain ·deja vu quality reminiscent of Koestler as when Noble writes, as he recently did, on the Ten Commandments of Systems Biology.Koestler said he adapted his neologism holon from the concept of holism, which was introduced by South African statesman Jan Smuts in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution. The concept, however, appears to be very similar to that of Rupert Riedls hierarchy of biology as developed in his Biologie der Erkenntnis (1981) which in turn was a development from earlier thinking about evolutionary biology on the part of Erhard Oeser and Konrad Lorenz and even earlier Austrian thinkers known to von Bertalanffy before he was displaced to Canada by the second world war.[Taken from Wikipidia]