An Argument for Holism – Part 1

Dr. Roger Nunn
Professor of Communication
Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Definitions of ‘holism’ in applied language studies need to remain broad enough to allow for true epistemological diversity and reject prematurely coherent impermeable systems that do not reflect the present state of knowledge in our field. In Part 1 of this two-part paper, I focus on definitional issues arguing that the atomistic parts of any whole are related within a complex, but fluid, organic system and are more easily understood in relationship to other parts of that system. After considering the relationship between holistic and atomistic phenomena, I argue that ecological studies (Van Lier, 2002), while providing groundbreaking new insights into the holistic nature of applied language study, appear to exclude context-independence as a legitimate perspective. My definition above is therefore closely associated with Pappamihiel and Walser’s (2009) characterization of complexity theory. Epistemological diversity and complexity lead us to accept dynamism, unpredictability and instability as natural conditions of our field which cannot be ignored.

Keywords: Diversity, holism, ecology, context independence

See page: 10-23

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