This article is part of a work in progress and is subject to continual revision. Date of last revision: June 5, 2013. The article was originally published in NetFuture #162 (April 5, 2005). Copyright 2005, 2013 The Nature Institute. All rights reserved.
What is a quality? I cannot tell you -- at least not in any direct way. This makes it difficult for me when a reader, Maurice Englander, responds to "The Reduction Complex" (NF #158) by complaining that "Talbott never defines what he means by 'quality'". Former Wired editor, Kevin Kelly, voices a similar concern when he asks me for a definition of "the exact method of holism -- how it runs as a science and not as poetry".
I respect these requests. This essay is the beginning of a response. But I am afraid my response may not be quite what my correspondents were looking for. The crucial issue, we will find, is whether their insistence upon a definition and an exact method is an insistence upon conformity to the very science we need to reform. After all, we typically try to define a thing by holding it fast, freezin