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  • The belief that groups, organizations, or other collectivities exist independently of their individual parts. The opposite of holism is reductionism, the belief that a collective entity is nothing but the sum of its parts or can only be understood by analyzing the individual parts. A holist would argue, for example, that since a university (or a society or a nation) existed before its current members were born and would likely exist after they all die, a university is a real entity and not merely a convenient label for the people in it. Another example is the medieval term manus mortua, which is related to the corporative nature of the Christian Church. This legal concept stated that land or property is given over to a corporation ...

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