Cover of A Summing Up

A Summing Up

Auhtor: Virginia Woolf

Language: english
Published: 1944

Genres:

fiction,  short stories
Downloads: 160
eBook size: 56Kb

Review by A. Dent, January 2005


Rating: (***)
Copyright: Public Domain in the U.S.
Please check the copyright status in your country.

Summary of the Book 'A Summing Up':

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 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.

Excerpts from the Book 'A Summing Up':


... this of damp, since the Chinese lanterns seemed hung red and green fruit in the depths of an enchanted forest, Mr. Bertram Pritchard led Mrs. Latham ...
... there was no connection between the different remarks. Indeed, if one had taken a pencil and written down his very words-and one night of his talk would ...
... Pritchard was an esteemed civil servant and a Companion of the Bath but what was even stranger was that he was almost invariably liked. There was a ...
... about cows and night travelling, about cream and stars, about continental railways and Bradshaw, catching cod, catching cold, influenza, rheumatism and ...
... could one prove that he was a loyal friend and very sympathetic and-but here, as so often happened, talking to Bertram Pritchard, she forgot his existence, ...
... with a little give of the ankles, fanning herself, majestic, silent, with all her senses roused, her ears pricked, snuffing the air, as if she had been ...
... of the human race. Where there were osier beds and coracles paddling through a swamp, there is this and she thought of the dry, thick, well built ...
... had laid paving stones over the bog, and, when they came to the end of the garden (it was in fact extremely small), and she and Bertram sat down on deck ...
... applaud the society of humanity from which she was excluded. Tags of poetry in praise of them rose to her lips they were adorable and good, above ...
... cabin boy or common seaman-someone who ran up masts, gaily whistling. Thinking thus, the branch of some tree in front of her became soaked and steeped ...
... Sasha peered over too. She saw a bucket or perhaps a boot. In a second the illusion vanished. There was London again the vast inattentive impersonal ...
... its ways unconcernedly, Sasha could no longer spray over the world that cloud of gold. Bertram talked and the somebodies-for the life of her she could ...
... did her best to remember what she had read at school about the Isle of Thorney and men in coracles, oysters, and wild duck and mists, but it seemed ...
... by wagging his tail. Now the tree, denuded of its gilt and majesty, seemed to supply her with an answer became a field tree-the only one ...
... a widow bird a bird perched aloof on that tree. But then Bertram, putting his arm through hers in his familiar way, for he had known her all ...
... wider circles until it became (what she called her soul) remote as a crow which has been startled up into the air by a stone thrown at it. A Summing ...
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