The term "Holarchy" meaning a hierarchy of "holons" is adapted here from Arthur Koestler. In keeping with Koestler's orginal approach, based on ecology and systems theory, the Holarchy is a series of increasingly all-encompassing fields of organisation, each of which may or may not be said to have their own identity. So for example, a city is an organised structure made up of individual people (along with infrastructure, buildings, and so on), and one can even use biological analogies to describe it - the roads are arteries, the phone lines and fibre optic cables are nerves, the central business district is the heart, and so on. But a city is not itself a conscious entity. Similarily, the planetary biosphere - "Gaia" as defined by Dr James Lovelock - is not a conscious entity or god or intelligence - but it still does have all the signs of life (homeostasis, etc)
Ken Wilber combines the idea of a Holarchy with the Chain of Being or spectrum of consciousness, he calls this the Great Nest of Being ( Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, pp.24-5). However I believe he is confusing two different and unrelated parameters here
Although one can speak in terms of individual and collective consciousness, so that each unit of individual consciousness is a part of a collective consciousness, in general holons and holarchies pertain to Physical Reality.
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