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The synergy or the synergism ( Greek συνεργία synergía , or συνεργισμός synergismós , "the cooperation") describes the interaction of living beings , substances or forces in the sense of "mutually promoting" or a common benefit resulting from it .

Aristotle 's thesis “ The whole is more than the sum of its parts ” can be understood as a paraphrase of the term synergy ; holism is based on this thesis .

Synergies are examined interdisciplinary in synergetics .


In Christian dogmatics, synergism is the “cooperation” of the human will in justification . During the synergistic dispute during the Reformation , the Gnesiolutherans accused Philipp Melanchthon and his school of being advocates of synergism. The strict teaching of the Gnesiolutherans, which claimed to be based on Luther , held fast to the absolute inability of natural will to assist in justification. However, Melanchthon primarily represented a position based on Confessio Augustana Article 18 and thus also represented by Luther: Man is free in worldly actions, “but without the grace, help and action of the Holy Spirit, man cannot please God”.

The synergistic disputes that arose in the German Evangelical Church since 1557 had this topic as their content and were gradually settled. Later Lutheranism came closer to Melanchthon's view of justification, the cooperation of man in justification does not take place with his natural, but with the forces given by preparatory grace.


In the economy created synergies through economies of scale ( economies of scale ), composite effects ( economies of scope ) and density advantages ( economies of density ).

They can be sought through various forms of cooperation (e.g. cooperation or collusion ), e.g. B. through joint ventures through the merger of two or more independent companies into one company.

The collaborating subjects generally strive to maximize their usefulness. That can result in one of them being more useful than another.

The game theory studied with scientific methods operations in which benefits also occur implicitly (without specific planning), z. B. in competitive situations. Theoretical foundations for game theory developed a. a. John Nash ; he introduced the Nash equilibrium in 1950 . For this he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1995 .

Some market participants compete and cooperate; this is called coopetition or Koopetition . Their doing and leaving is also the subject of study in game theory.


Synergy is also used in pharmacology (and in medicine ) when two drugs taken at the same time reinforce their effects .

One example is the synergistic effect of sulfonamides and trimethoprim .


When chemicals work together, one speaks of synergetic or synergistic effects if the combined effects are potentiated. This happens e.g. B. in halogenated flame retardants in combination with antimony oxide and also in the composition of rocket fuels ( Oberth effect ).


The term also has a meaning in silviculture , also as synergism . There it describes the increased productivity of a mixed stand on one location compared to a pure stand with the same number of trunks. The increase can be explained by better utilization (e.g. through a tiered stand layer or different demands of the different tree species) or improvement (e.g. through better decomposition of the "mixed litter") of the local conditions.


In general, the term is used in the more abstract meaning “synergy effect” when concepts, processes or structures complement each other. This use was significantly influenced by Richard Buckminster Fuller , who u. a. explained in architecture the characteristics of its domes or geodesic domes .

Physiology and anatomy

The simplest example of synergistic effects is the harmonious interaction of muscle groups. Synergistic muscles are, for example, all muscles that contribute to one and the same movement at a certain joint, for example cause a flexion, cf. Agonists . In addition, the organization of the CNS is also described in the physiology with synergy . This means the interaction of different brain structures. In motor skills , complex movement sequences require the interaction of various somatotopically structured areas of the brain. Such brain areas are, for example, the various motor projection fields (PS, EPS), basal ganglia , cerebellum , etc. This is necessary in order to fine-tune and coordinate movement sequences. Disturbances in these processes can manifest themselves as ataxia or apraxia , for example . Similar to how one distinguishes between agonists and antagonists in muscle groups, there are a number of systems not only in the nervous system that prove to be opposing players to one another, such as the aforementioned PS and EPS systems in motor skills, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system as well as different z. Sometimes opposing biochemical or hormonal regulations, which are also controlled at a higher level by the nervous system ( neurohypophysis ). Adversaries can also work together under certain circumstances, as they are subject to very different control mechanisms. This phenomenon is also known as synergism in physiology .


See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Synergy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. »That which is composed of components in such a way that it forms a unified whole, not in the manner of a heap but like a syllable, that is obviously more than just the sum of its components. A syllable is not the sum of its sounds; ba is not the same as b plus a , […] The syllable is therefore something in itself; it is not just its sound, […] but something else too. «Aristotle: Metaphysics . Translated into German by Adolf Lasson. Jena 1907, p. 129
  2. Georg Ernst Stahl: About the importance of the synergic principle for medicine. Hall 1695; in: Bernward Josef Gottlieb (Hrsg.): Georg Ernst Stahl: About the manifold influence of emotions on the human body (Halle 1695) / About the importance of the synergic principle for medicine (Halle 1695) / About the difference between organism and mechanism (Hall 1714) / Considerations for a doctor's home visit (Hall 1703). Leipzig 1961 (= Sudhoff's classics of medicine. Volume 36).
  3. C.-J. Estler, H. Schmidt: Pharmacology and Toxicology . Schattauer Verlag, 2007, p. 51.
  4. Norbert Boss (Ed.): Roche Lexicon Medicine. 2nd Edition. Hoffmann-La Roche AG and Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-541-13191-8 , p. 1660.
  5. ^ Hermann Rein , Max Schneider : Human Physiology. 15th edition. Springer, Berlin 1964, pp. 543, 597, 615.