In normal usage, the word "whole" means simply complete,
entire, undivided, not ill or injured. Holistic science and philosophy
and the study of systems have added new dimensions to our understandings
of wholeness, understandings which are still developing.
In co-intelligence work, "wholeness" refers to the
inclusive, ever-evolving coherence of life and its various parts
and of the relationship dynamics between those parts. This coherence
underlies familiar concepts like health, integrity, wholesomeness,
holiness, and other holistic concepts. Wholeness, itself, has
many dimensions and dynamics which we are exploring in co-intelligence
That said, the fact is that wholeness is both central and not
precisely defined. It is something to "get the feel of."
When we talk about "wholeness" on this site, we are
often embracing many overlapping phenonena, among them these:
- Attending to the whole means attending to "the big picture"
instead of engaging in narrow-minded glorification of limited information.
- In a common definition of co-intelligence -- "Accessing the wisdom
of the whole on behalf of the whole" -- the whole can include the
whole group, community, or nation; all the parts of a system or all
the adversaries in a conflict, in generative conversation with each
other; and/or the larger wholeness or Spirit of Life as a source of
- Wholeness includes long term perspectives and realities. Although
immediate problems, realities and outcomes may be important, they are
not the whole story,
- Taking wholeness seriously means looking beyond narrow self-interest
to "the common good" -- and even pursuing self-interest through
pursuit of the common good.
- Concern for wholeness requires moving beyond shallow appearances and
symptoms. It requires moving into fuller meanings, deeper causes, greater
complexity, subtlety and ambiguity.
- The wholeness of things of course includes their parts. But when we're
considering living beings and living systems we must also address their
overall health, responsiveness, development, special gifts, etc. --
their unique aliveness -- and also their context and history. We must
especially transcend our focus on their utility to us.
- Wholeness almost always involves the healthy mutuality (synergy) of
relationships, a dimension of life that can be neglected by an exclusive
focus on the entities involved in those relationships. Whole-system
dynamics and structures are often the dynamics and structures of relationships
that characterize the whole.
- To attempt to understand the whole means to humbly recognize the fact
that "there's always more to it; to appreciate the limits and evolution
of knowledge and certainty.
- Wholeness often refers to the unity of spirit -- and commonality of
story -- that underlie the details of life. Unity and commonality are
often overlooked when we focus too much on differences and separateness
(although these, too, are part of wholeness!).
"Wholeness" is the concept that best embraces "new
paradigm" efforts to create a more just, sustainable and
wise society. As the essays below make abundantly clear, wholeness
is far more than unity.
Co-intelligence is intelligence that arises out of wholeness
and takes wholeness seriously. Co-intelligence can be considered
the cognitive and responsive dimension of wholeness. Because it
underlies all the co-intelligence work, wholeness is given considerable
attention on these pages, especially in the articles below.
6 Parts of Wholeness
Four Dynamics of Wholeness
A Cycle of Dynamic Coherence
Using Synergy, Diversity and Wholeness
to Create a Wisdom Culture
Wholeness, Explicit and Implicit