hierarchy of biological structures and systems
properties and functions
German philosophers introduced the concept of the “noumenal” realm that is not governed by the deterministic laws of “phenomenal” nature, where every event is completely determined by chains of causality.
Disciplines such as cybernetics and systems theory embrace a non-reductionist view of science, sometimes going as far as explaining phenomena at a given level of hierarchy in terms of phenomena at a higher level, in a sense, the opposite of a reductionist approach.
“things can have emergent properties as a whole”
A contrast to the reductionist approach is holism or emergentism. Holism is the idea that things can have properties, (emergent properties), as a whole that are not explainable from the sum of their parts. The principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”.
“emergent properties of complex systems”
The limit of reductionism’s usefulness stems from emergent properties of complex systems, which are more common at certain levels of organization.
The basic principle behind the organisation is the concept of emergence—the properties and functions found at a hierarchical level are not present and irrelevant at the lower levels.
Each level in the hierarchy represents an increase in organisational complexity, with each “object” being primarily composed of the previous level’s basic unit.