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The Partiality of Wholeness

Uploaded by palma on Oct 15, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


Religious people believe in the existence of a supreme being. It has many attributes but two of the most striking are that it seems to both encompass and to pervade everything. Judaic sources are in the habit of saying that we all have a "share of the upper divine soul". Put more formally, we can say that we are both part of a Whole and permeated by it.

But what are the relationships between the parts and the Whole?

They could be either formal (a word in a sentence, for instance) or physical (a neurone in our brain, for instance).

A formal relationship entails an impairment of the truth value of a sentence / proposition / theorem / syllogism with the removal of one or more of its parts. As a result, a part could be reconstructed to fit into an impaired Whole once the formal relationships (and the derivative truth value) are known.

Things are pretty much the same in the physical realm: the removal of the part renders the Whole - NOT Whole (in the functional sense, in the structural sense, or in both senses). A part is immediately discernible: it is always smaller (size, mass, weight) than the Whole and it always possesses the potential to contribute to the functioning / role of the Whole. The part need not be active to qualify as a part - yet, it requires the potential to be active to do so.

In other words : the Whole is defined by its parts - their sum, their synergy, their structure, their functions. Even where epiphenomena occur - it is inconceivable to deal with them without resorting to some discussion of the parts in their relationships with the Whole.

But the parts are also defined by their context, by the Whole. It is by observing their place in the hyperstructure, interactions with other parts and general function of the Whole that we can assign the title ("parts") to them. There are no parts without a Whole.

In this sense, it seems that parts and Wholes are nothing but language conventions, a way that we chose to describe the world that was compatible with our evolutionary and survival goals and with our sensory input. If this is so, then, being defined by each other, parts and Wholes are inefficient, cyclical, recursive, in short:...

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   10/15/2000

Category:   Science And Technology

Length:   10 pages (2,282 words)

Views:   1877

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