A holarchy is a way to perceive the cosmos. It consists of holons which can be described as self-similar units that for their part consist of self-similar units and so on. In other words a holon is a distinct whole as part of another distinct whole. As an example an atom as a whole is part of a molecule as a whole and a molecule as a whole is part of a cell as a whole. Reality than doesn’t consist of totalities or parts but is made of distinct components called holons.

In this way holonic hierarchies can be characterized by an expansive wavelike development but not on a global dimension. They create greater depth (complexity) on smaller scale and are determined by the evolutionary sequential order. If one level ceases to exist its previous levels remain but not its successors. If, for instance, molecules disappear cells will disappear but atoms will continue to exist.

Personal development takes place in holarchies increasing its complexity on each new level. The more complex the personality the more levels of existential reality can be perceived and adjusted to. The more levels of existential reality human beings adjust to the more sustainable will be their behavior. Intrinsic sustainability is based on this notion.