Holistic biology, which during the last years has gained wide acceptance amoungst biologists and philosophers, aspires to a new point of view as regards the problem of life which transcends the opposing theories of mechanism and vitalism. The exponents of holism repudiate the purely mechanical theory, the principle of life is something more than a highly complicated physico-chemical process. At the same time, however, the characteristics of life should be traced to the principles of pure natural science, untroubled by the introduction of metaphysical factors such as entelechy etc.
This critical review endeavours to show that holism is often used by its exponents entirely in the sense of entelechy, that is to say as a metaphysical principle. On the other hand we seek to point out that where holism has been used in the sense of natural science it by no means bridges the gulf between mechanism and vitalism. The same comment applies to the holism ofMeyer, the foundation of which (namely the deduction of theoretical physics from theoretical biology by simplifying the formula) may be right after all and is worthy of consideration.