The way of doing science, sometimes called "whole to parts", which focuses on observation of the specimen within its ecosystem first before breaking down to study any part of the specimen.
The idea that the scientist is not a passive observer of an external universe but rather a participant in the system.
Proponents claim that Holistic science is naturally suited to subjects such as ecology, biology, physics and the social sciences, where complex, non-linear interactions are the norm.
These are systems where emergent properties arise at the level of the whole that cannot be predicted by focusing on the parts alone, which may make mainstream, reductionist science ill-equipped to provide understanding beyond a certain level.
This principle of emergence in complex systems is often captured in the phrase ′the whole is greater than the sum of its parts′. Living organisms are an example: no knowledge of all the chemical and physical properties of matter can explain or predict the functioning of living organisms.
The same happens in complex social human systems, where detailed understanding of individual behaviour cannot predict the behaviour of the group, which emerges at the level of the collective. The phenomenon of emergence may impose a theoretical limit on knowledge available through reductionist methodology, arguably making complex systems natural subjects for holistic approaches.
One of the reasons that holistic science attracts supporters is that it seems to offer a progressive, 'socio-ecological' view of the world.