We breakdown the world with an explanation of the truth, in having two schools of approach, the reductionist approach and the holistic approach.

Is there another approach?

Will both approaches arrive at the same conclusion?

  • 1
    Too vague... philosophy is something more than the one-line struggle of -isms. Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 12:50
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA So the truth is greater than the sum of its parts?
    – 8Mad0Manc8
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 13:09
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    Unpopular opinion, apparently, but I don't think reductionism and 'holism' are at odds the way other people do. For me, this is what 'emergence' is all about. Emergence and Reductionism are two sides of the same coin (well, not strong emergence - that's arguably a totally different beast). To understand fully what's happening in, say, a cell of a living being, you have to understand something about the chemical interactions at play - that seems uncontroversial. But acknowledging that cell behaviour is the consequence of atoms and chemicals interacting doesn't negate the existence of the cell.
    – TKoL
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 13:25
  • 1
    – Rushi
    Commented Jan 6 at 4:55
  • Maybe we should build up the world instead of breaking it down?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 6 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


I would like to introduce a third approach by using the dialectical method:

At first, reductionism and holism seem like total opposites that exclude each other. You either look at the individual parts or look at the whole. But this doesn't have to be this way.

There is a way for this two opposites to become a superior thing. And to arrive at that we must consider both as moments of the same rational movement. It is a matter of going from the abstract (the simple stripped from all other determinations) and arriving at the concrete (the many simple individuals interacting with each other as they actually do in nature).

The essential difference between this elevated method and the previous two is that the new one looks at the process of understanding as a movement. The process of cognition is not in the static reduction or in the static holism but in the movement from one to another.

This going from the abstract to the concrete is the Marxist approach that surpasses the limitations of both reductionism and holism.

ToHere is a little reading about Marx's method.


In software there are the top-down and bottom-up approaches to development.

Top-down design starts with the general concept and repeatedly breaks it down into its component parts. Bottom-up design starts with component parts and repeatedly merges them into the general concept.

In my exprerience, in order for the final product to be a success, both methods must be incorporated in the development process. The how of the mingling cannot be strictly defined; partly it is art...

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