(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Koestler brings together a wealth of biological, physical, anthropological
and philosophical arguments to construct a unified theory of open hierarchical
Language has to do with a hierarchic process of spelling out implicit ideas in explicit terms by means of rules and feedbacks. Organisms and societies also exhibit the same hierarchical structure. Each intermediary entity ("holon") function as self-contained wholes relative to their subordinates and as dependent parts to their superordinates. Each holon tends to persist and assert its pattern of activity.
Wherever there is life, it must be hierarchically organized. Life exhibits an integrative property (that manifests itself as symbiosis) that enables the gradual construction of complex hierarchies out of simple holons. In nature there are no separated, indivisible, self-contained units. An "individual" is an oxymoron. An organism is a hierarchy of self-regulating holons (a "holarchy") that work in coordination with their environment. Holons at the higher levels of the hierarchy have progressively more degrees of freedom and holons at the lower levels of the hierarchy have progressively less degrees of freedom. Moving up the hierarchy, we encounter more and more complex, flexible and creative patterns of activity. Moving down the hierarchy behavior becomes more and more mechanized.
A hierarchical process (which gradually reduces the percept to its fundamental elements) is also involved in perception and memorization. A dual hierarchical process (which gradually reconstructs the percept) is involved in recalling.
Hierarchical processes of the same nature can be found in the development of the embryo, in the evolution of species and in consciousness itself (which should be analyzed not in the context of the mind/body dichotomy but in the context of a multi-levelled hierarchy and of degrees of consciousness).
They all share common themes: a tendency towards integration (a force that is inherent in the concept of hierarchic order, even if it seems to challenge the second law of thermodynamics as it increases order), an openess at the top of the hierarchy (towards higher and higher levels of complexity) and the possibility of infinite regress.