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Project Outline

The concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts has been known from the time of Aristotle and become a common phrase in English. The same concept might be stated in several different ways and different authors might have something slightly different in mind when they use the phrase.

The objective is to collect examples of the usage of this concept over the last 2000 years including

-- person who used it
-- precisely form of expression
-- context or object of usage (what specific phenomenon was the author referring to)
-- explanation of why the concept applies in this context of in general


Research Information

THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
S.No. Person who used it Form of Expression Object of Usage (author referring to) Explanation
1.
Team Dynamics,

Learning skills

Synergy Activity: Synergy = The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Another way to look at this is: 1+1=3. The definition of Synergy is “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Activity: Behind this screen I have 50 items that I want you to view for 35 seconds. Try to memorize as many items as you can. I will bring you up to view the items in groups of threes; The synergy portion of the lesson develops the concept of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and power of teamwork.

The key is that people tend to remember different items, so the number is bound to increase, proving the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. At each step the range of items will increase, showing that as we work together we increase our potential (1+1=3).

2.
Dr. Alterwein Engaged In Mind/Body Techniques Of The 'Whole' Body To Change Various 'Parts' Of The Body! If the whole is greater than the sum of its parts One would think the total to somehow be more than the sum of its parts, or more than ten. This would be like adding ten 'ones' together, and instead of getting ten, you would get eleven or twelve or more, well beyond the logical addition of mathematics. Let’s take the auto. Each part,has a function. Let’s give each part's function a value of 'one.' Thus, when all parts are combined, all functions be combined together to create a new function. Ten functions, each with a value of one, would therefore give a total value of ten.
3.
Gestalt psychologists ‘”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” Supply chains are all around us. They’re present in product manufacturing; they’re visible in the service industry; and they’re a dominating element of the transportation industry. When one part of the supply chain is missing or disrupted, it can affect the entire process. If an end product is made up of a 1,000 parts and only 999 are available, that product is incomplete - regardless of how big or small the missing item may be. When the Gestalt psychologists first coined the phrase, ‘”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” they may have overlooked its application to an assembly or production line.
4.
Meyer Elkin L.C.S.W. THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. An Integrative Approach to Divorce and Family Law Family Court Review

Vol. 29 Issue 1 Page 4 January 1991

5.
Susanne Goldstein The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts Individual commitment to a group effort that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization Quotes, The Social Age
6.
Kevin Hinton The whole is greater than the sum of its parts The truth of the matter is that all traditional systems in operation to-day treat symptoms, ie divide the body into parts and then try to put it back together again. The body is a unit – all parts work for the benefit of the whole
7.
The Influence of Gestalt Psychologists The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The law of Pragnanz - Of several possible configurations, the one that will occur is the simplest and most stable shape. Gestalt laws of grouping.

Perception - The process of organizing and interpreting the sensory information to give it meaning. Gestalt Laws of Grouping
  • Proximity - Objects near each other tend to be processed as a unit.
  • Similarity - Objects similar to each other tend to be processed as a unit.
  • Good continuation - Objects arranged in a straight line of curve tend to be seen as a unit.
  • Closure - When a figure has a gap, we tend to see it as a completed figure.
  • Common fate - Objects that move in the same direction tend to be seen as a unit. (ultrasound)
8.
Stuart Kaufman (1980) Popular axiom

The system/ the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Examples of the range of ideas and applied knowledge about systems, systems thinking and systems mapping. A system is a collection of parts that interact to function as a whole.
9.
Richard Bawden

(1995)

The system/ the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A system is a bounded whole entity which is different from the sum of its parts. This difference emerges as a property which results from the way the component parts interact with one another.
10.
O'Connor & Mc Dermott

(1997)

A system is an entity that maintains its existence and functions as a whole through the action of its parts Systems thinking looks at the whole, and the parts, and the connections between the parts, studying the whole in order to understand the parts. It is the opposite to reductionism, the idea that something is simply the sum of its parts. A collection of parts that do not connect is not a system. It is a heap
11.
Motloch (2001) Academic; Landscape architecture and design; Systems practitioner. Systems (whole) function through interrelatedness of parts Introduction to Landscape Design where he explores landscape as a system Systems ("whole" consisting of entities and relationships) function through interrelatedness of parts, and exhibit existential properties independent of these parts.
12.
.
Flood and Jackson (1991)

Academics; Management Science; Management Consultants

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts The authors consider the notion of a "system" as an organising concept; they then look at various metaphors that may be used as a basis for structuring thinking about organisations and problem situations. “In systems thinking, a system is a complex and highly interlinked network of parts exhibiting synergistic properties - the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.
13.
Andy Denis, Department of Economics, Discussion Paper Series ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ This usage follows that adopted by Douglas Hofstadter and spelled out in his usual entertaining and insightful way in Gödel, Escher, Bach: HOLISM is … simply the belief that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. No one in his right mind could reject holism.

REDUCTIONISM is … simply the belief that ‘a whole can be understood completely if you understand its parts, and the nature of their “sum”’. No one in her left brain could reject reductionism.” (Hofstadter 1980: 312)

14.
Hayek

(1952)

‘the whole being greater than the mere sum of its parts’ “It is only when we understand how the elements are related to each other that the talk about the whole being more than the parts becomes more than an empty phrase.” A particular order of events or objects is something different from all the individual events taken separately is the significant fact behind the [phrase
15.
Hayek

(1967)

A whole is more than the mere sum of its parts The overall order of actions in a group is ... more than the totality of regularities observable in the actions of the individuals and cannot be wholly reduced to them ... These elements are related to each other in a particular manner.

Hayek addresses the question of the equality or otherwise between wholes and parts

16.
HOLISTIC MENOPAUSE: INTEGRATING MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT.

By Jo Lynne Robins, RN, PhD.

whole is greater than the sum of its parts Terminology: Holistic Integrative-Combining mainstream care with CAM for a model of care that is greater than the sum of its parts
17.
VITORINO RAMOS, On the Implicit and on the Artificial The behaviour of the whole is more than the sum of its parts Non-linear systems Non-linear systems do not obey the principle of superposition. Systems are divided into simpler constituents parts. The non-linear system must be treated as a whole
18.
Synergetic view whole is more than the sum of its parts There may be some quantity with respect to which the whole differs from the mere aggregate. This quantity is called synergy. The energy in a whole cannot exceed the sum of the energies invested in each of its parts (e.g. first law of thermodynamics),
19.
Synergy Definition “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” The definition is often associated with the quote (Aristotle , in Metaphysics) Even if it is more accurate to say that the functional effects produced by wholes are different from what the parts can produce alone. Synergy is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nature and human societies alike.
20.
Are Agile Methodologies Really Different? By Andy Schneider Agile methods differ in the degree in belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts Kent Beck advises that newcomers to XP use the whole method, since it is the combination of all the practices that add most value. There is less emphasis on the whole creating some synergistic entity that delivers maximum value.
21.
A TYPOLOGY OF EMERGENCE IN SOCIAL SYSTEMS AND SOCIOCYBERNETIC THEORY, By Kenneth D. Bailey “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” - The classical The concept of emergence, like that of complexity, is central to the development of sociocybernetics and social systems theory. It is a traditional model not only of emergence, but also of a social system, with individuals being the parts, and society (as derived through interaction among individuals) being the “emergent “whole”.
22.
Buckley (1998, p. 36) “When we say that ‘the whole is more than the sum of its parts,’ A complex of elements or components directly or indirectly related in a network of interrelationships of various kinds, such that it constitutes a dynamic whole with emergent properties We are pointing to the fact of organization as the ‘more than’…; and the ‘sum of the parts’ is taken to mean the unorganized aggregation.
23.
Buckley and Mihata “the whole being “greater than the sum of its parts” Role compliance and self-steering result in organized patterns of human action and social interaction that can be recognized as a primary form of emergence. “The whole” (e.g., a group) being “greater than the sum of its parts” (e.g., individual actors).
24.
Buckley (1998, p. 36) the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in both equations (2) and (3) While the whole is equal to the sum of its parts in equation (1), the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in both equations (2) and (3) “the sum of its parts” which Buckley calls unorganized aggregation” is an additive model, and is shown in equation
(1) Y = a + b1X1 + b2X2 + … bnXn

Interaction terms can be added to this additive (linear) model, as shown in equation

(2) Y = a + b1X1 + b2X2 + b1,2X1X2 + …bn-1,nXn-1Xn

Or equation

(3)Y = a + b1X1 + b2X2 + b3X3 + ...bnXn
25.
The LEADER approach (1999) “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”:1+1=3 This approach means that the actions and projects included in local action plans should not be designed individually and in isolation but, on the contrary, they should form part of an overall strategy and be linked and coordinated within a coherent whole. The theory behind the LEADER approach is that the horizontal integration of players, actions, sectors and resources gives added value (greater creativeness and inventiveness) to each action or sector participating in the process.
26.
John G. Schmidt,

The Theory of Application Integration

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” as one of the EAI Laws. EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) is the process of integrating multiple computer applications that were independently developed, may use incompatible technology, and remain independently managed. Or more simply, the EAI objective is to make independently developed applications “work as one”. It means that the whole is comprised of a pattern of relationships that are not contained by the parts but ultimately define them.
27.
Kelley, 2000 In essence, the whole is “greater” than the sum of its parts. Holistic vs. Analytic Scores.

In addition to the distinct analytic scores, a holistic score also takes into account how those individual textual features work together to create the whole piece of writing.

But “greater” does not imply that the holistic score is higher; it means that there is more to consider in the holistic score than just the analytic scores for each of the textual features.
28.
Bob Madden, noted National Geographic photographer and magazine designer, H O R I Z O N E W S. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” it is often said. Photography – “perspective distortion A good photographer looks at things carefully, then decides what makes a stronger picture: the whole or a part of the whole.
29.
Capra The whole is greater than the sum of its parts a holistic worldview “a holistic worldview, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts”
30.
THE SCIENCE OF SYSTEMS THINKING.

The Natural Way the World Works, 2005. Stephen G. Haines, Centre for Strategic Management.

THE WHOLE SYSTEM: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In Analytic Thinking, the parts are Primary and the Whole is Secondary.

In Systems Thinking, the Whole is Primary, and the parts are Secondary.

Wholism–Overall broader perspectives, Ends/Purpose-Focused, Synergy

Parts Focused–Suboptimal Results, Narrower Views, Means

31.
Three Pillars of Social Source Connecting the Nonprofit Technology Sector

Gideon Rosenblatt Executive Director, ONE/Northwest March 2005

A networked whole that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The analysis of functional roles on the environmental movement called Movement as Network. “The environmental movement is not just some vague concept, but an actual entity. It is a network, made up of very real interconnections between people and organizations;
32.
Smuts "The tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution." Holism is defined by author The tendency of the nature to form wholes through creative evolution
33.
Aristotle "The whole is more than the sum of its parts." Holism The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics
34.
Terry Bossomaier & David Green, Patterns in the Sand:

Computers, Complexity, and Everyday Life

Is the Whole Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts? Often the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Sometimes out of a multitude of simple processes comes something unexpected on a global scale.

In the attempt to explain how our world works, the science, for many centuries, used a so-called reductionist approach when a complicated phenomenon is broken down into simpler parts, which are studied and lessons from those studies are used to explain the phenomenon in its entirety. This approach led to many significant discoveries, but it also can be considered a cause to some significant failures, because sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, we have not yet answered the question of where or what the human mind is, although we know in much detail physiological and biochemical qualities of the brain.

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