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  Organicism, in the life sciences, is an explanation for the nature of the living world, which states that organisms can only be understood in their entirety, not by being broken down into individual components (mechanism). To the organicists, a living organism cannot be described merely by the sum of its parts as it possesses qualities which cannot be predicted from the study of those parts, and indeed cannot continue to live fully when physically separated from the whole. Kidney function may thus be studied in isolation from the animal, but its role can only be fully understood in the context of the whole organism. Such a holistic doctrine provides cohesion for the many areas of modern biology and is applicable in other fields where complex systems may be studied as analogous to the organism, such as ecology and social sciences. RB

See also life; vitalism.



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