What is Holopoiesis?


As a middle way between the extremes of allopoiesis (other-making) and autopoiesis (self-making), Holopoiesis designates a dynamic process by which an integrated and diversified field “creorders” (creatively re/orders) itself holonically, that is, simultaneously as whole and part, universal and particular, self and other. 

As a dynamic process rather than a static state, holopoiesis follows the asymmetrical logic of inclusive transcendence: while each and every “holon” (a fundamental unit of being that is simultaneously part and whole) is immanent to the network of interrelationships from which it originates, it also transcends this network, being a novel product of those manifold interrelationships. The social is the condition of possibility for the arising of any individual, and each individual is uniquely irreducible to any of its particular relations. “The many become one, and are increased by one.”

Though uniquely irreducible, a holon has no intrinsic identity of its own that would subsist independently of its relationships with others. Holons are not abiding substances but are rather momentary events or occasions of experience, and holons can only relate with (or can only have experience with) other holons. Since each and every holon infinitely defers their conditions of existence to each other, there is nothing whatsoever in the entire holographic universe that has an intrinsic identity of its own that could act as a foundational ground for all other beings. The dynamic and processual network of interrelationships between holons itself is enough sufficient ground for the miraculous display of reality to occur.

By their nature, holons are impermanent, incomplete and inconsistent when taken on their own. When we look to find the essence of a holon, we find absolutely nothing other than its interrelationships with others. Though this means that a holon does not, properly speaking, “exist,” neither can it be said to “not exist,” for at minimum, the very possibility of there being an ultimate realization that any given holon is empty of true existence is dependent upon the relative condition of there being a holon which could be said to be empty at all.

Being intrinsically boundless and irreducible, a single holonic sphere is a provisional gateway to the manifold totality of the ultimate sphere of holographic reality. Through a myopic focus on a number of other holons, an individual holon may render itself (and others) as discrete entities simply located in time and space. Through an expansion of that myopic focus into a panoramic awareness, a holon opens up the clearing for an experience of itself as ultimately indivisible from, and in continuity with, the miraculous and dynamic unfolding of the totality of all possible experience.