Our language is ill suited to evaluating entities as part of an environment. You are an ecology, within an ecology, within an ecology, and this must be kept in mind. An ecology, or system, is more than the sum of its parts. For instance a team, is more than a group of people. A person is more than a sack of blood and guts. Yet our language allows us to ignore this most important of all realities. As an example, people frequently compare men and woman, ignoring they are part of a system [family] that has an end product of children. Imagine a statement like; “The heart is superior to the liver!” Perhaps to settle the argument some extraterrestrial force rips the heart and liver from a living body and examines each. Such an examination might be conducted in a meat market and give no indication of the system, the living creature from which they were taken. Without examining the system, in this case the living creature, it is difficult to determine the function of each piece of “meat.”

The reductionist, mechanistic model fails because the interaction of various units is not simplistic, additive, or equal to the sum of the properties of the parts. A whole new set of rules and properties will emerge that could not have been predicted by knowledge of the ingredients or actors. The old idea of knowing all the atoms, then all the molecules, and so forth, so that we can deduce complex properties and solutions is an utter and total failure. Ecologies and systems are much more complex than their members or parts.

You have an idea about atoms and molecules, but all this knowledge, extending to, and including quantum theory, would not enable you to comprehend the workings of a cell in your skin. And extensive knowledge about cells, and nothing more, would not enable you to imagine an organ. Further increasing your knowledge of an organ, say your heart, but nothing more, and it would be a vast leap to comprehend a living person. Extend this line of thought to a family, a tribe, a civilization, and then an ecology. And you see why it is critical to think in terms of ecologies, systems, and emergent properties. This prevents us from being sucked down into the quicksand of linguistic nonsense.