Thursday, June 04, 2009

Holistic War

I heard a news story yesterday concerning General McChrystal's philosophy on the Afghan War which he described as a "Holistic approach to the Afghan War". I'm pretty sure that I have never heard the word holistic used as an adjective for war. I thought that I must have heard it wrong because I didn't hear anyone on the news commenting on it but sure enough I heard right . Though I think I understand what the guy means I can't help but cringe at the use of such a phrase.

1 comment:

Pi Man said...

You are not the only one confused with this adjective Brother. I had to give this one some thought and do more research than I expected. Kind of made my head spin, but that’s good… I think. There is much debate as to the application of the word “holistic.” Not b/c of its mainstream, generally accepted definition that stems from the words of Aristotle, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” It’s the “fringe” definitions that are used in obscure cases like this that cause confusion. Being a Marine Corps veteran myself, suffice it to say the General could have chosen a more apropos word that would not have had the theological implication (i.e., changes with respect to the total mind, body, and spirit), but from a military perspective, focused more on the anthropological implication (i.e., making changes with respect to their societal culture, economics, politics, etc.), the history and practices which define that region. My guess is that his intent was the latter of these. Hope this makes some sense.... TA