„Any organism must be treated as-a-whole; in other words, that an organism is not an algebraic sum, a linear function of its elements, but always more than that.“

Source: Science and Sanity (1933), p. 64.
Context: Any organism must be treated as-a-whole; in other words, that an organism is not an algebraic sum, a linear function of its elements, but always more than that. It is seemingly little realized, at present, that this simple and innocent-looking statement involves a full structural revision of our language...

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update April 8, 2021. History
Alfred Korzybski photo
Alfred Korzybski15
Polish scientist and philosopher 1879 - 1950

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„The characteristic of the organism is first that it is more than the sum of its parts and second that the single processes are ordered for the maintenance of the whole.“

—  Ludwig von Bertalanffy austrian biologist and philosopher 1901 - 1972

Source: 1920s, Kritische Theorie der Formbildung (1928, 1933), p. 305; as cited in: Cliff Hooker ed. (2011) Philosophy of Complex Systems. p. 189

Karl Pearson photo

„Heredity. Given any organ in a parent and the same or any other organ in its offspring, the mathematical measure of heredity is the correlation of these organs for pairs of parent and offspring... The word organ here must be taken to include any characteristic which can be quantitatively measured.“

—  Karl Pearson English mathematician and biometrician 1857 - 1936

"Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution III: Regression, Heredity and Panmixia", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series A, Vol. 187 (1896) p. 259.

Bob Black photo

„Every organization has more in common with every other organization than it does with any of the unorganized.“

—  Bob Black American anarchist 1951

Anarchism And Other Impediments To Anarchy (1985)
Context: Every organization has more in common with every other organization than it does with any of the unorganized. The anarchist critique of the state, if only the anarchists understood it, is but a special case of the critique of organization. And, at some level, even anarchist organizations sense this.
Anti-anarchists may well conclude that if there is to be hierarchy and coercion, let it be out in the open, clearly labeled as such. Unlike these pundits (the right-wing "libertarians", the minarchists, for instance) I stubbornly persist in my opposition to the state. But not because, as anarchists so often thoughtlessly declaim, the state is not "necessary". Ordinary people dismiss this anarchist assertion as ludicrous, and so they should. Obviously, in an industrialized class society like ours, the state is necessary. The point is that the state has created the conditions in which it is indeed necessary, by stripping individuals and face-to-face voluntary associations of their powers. More fundamentally, the state's underpinnings (work, moralism, industrial technology, hierarchic organizations) are not necessary but rather antithetical to the satisfactions of real needs and desires. Unfortunately, most brands of anarchism endorse all these premises yet balk at their logical conclusion: the state.
If there were no anarchists, the state would have had to invent them. We know that on several occasions it has done just that. We need anarchists unencumbered by anarchism. Then, and only then, we can begin to get serious about fomenting anarchy.

„It has been said: The whole is more than the sum of its parts. It is more correct to say that the whole is something else than the sum of its parts,“

—  Kurt Koffka German psychologist 1886 - 1941

Source: Principles of Gestalt Psychology, 1935, p. 176
Context: Even these humble objects reveal that our reality is not a mere collocation of elemental facts, but consists of units in which no part exists by itself, where each part points beyond itself and implies a larger whole. Facts and significance cease to be two concepts belonging to different realms, since a fact is always a fact in an intrinsically coherent whole. We could solve no problem of organization by solving it for each point separately, one after the other; the solution had to come for the whole. Thus we see how the problem of significance is closely bound up with the problem of the relation between the whole and its parts. It has been said: The whole is more than the sum of its parts. It is more correct to say that the whole is something else than the sum of its parts, because summing is a meaningless procedure, whereas the whole-part relationship is meaningful.

Tigran Sargsyan photo
Russell L. Ackoff photo

„A system is more than the sum of its parts; it is an indivisible whole.“

—  Russell L. Ackoff Scientist 1919 - 2009

It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart. The elements of a system may themselves be systems, and every system may be part of a larger system.
Ackoff (1973) "Science in the Systems Age: beyond IE, OR and MS." in: Operations Research Vol 21, pp. 664.
1970s

„Any approach to the study of organizations is built on specific assumptions about the nature of organizations and how they are designed and function.“

—  Karl E. Weick Organisational psychologist 1936

R.L. Daft, Karl E. Weick. "Toward a model of organizations as interpretation systems," Academy of management review, 1984.
1980s-1990s

Russell L. Ackoff photo
Benjamin Peirce photo

„Some definite interpretation of a linear algebra would, at first sight, appear indispensable to its successful application.“

—  Benjamin Peirce American mathematician 1809 - 1880

On the Uses and Transformations of Linear Algebra (1875)
Context: Some definite interpretation of a linear algebra would, at first sight, appear indispensable to its successful application. But on the contrary, it is a singular fact, and one quite consonant with the principles of sound logic, that its first and general use is mostly to be expected from its want of significance. The interpretation is a trammel to the use. Symbols are essential to comprehensive argument.

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Peter Kropotkin photo
Hyman George Rickover photo

„If an organization is to learn anything, then the distribution of its memory, the accuracy of that memory, and the conditions under which that memory is treated as a constraint become crucial characteristics of organizing.“

—  Karl E. Weick Organisational psychologist 1936

Karl E. Weick (1979; 206), cited in: James P. Walsh and Gerardo Rivera Ungson. "Organizational memory." Academy of management review 16.1 (1991): 57-91.
1970s

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