- It is often said that certain 'wholes' are 'greater than the sum of their parts'. Since it is not entirely clear what 'greater than' is supposed to mean in this context, I would prefer simply to say that some wholes are distinct from the sum of their parts - or, more accurately, distinct from any sum of their proper parts, since we may need to allow that there is more than one way of individuating a thing's 'parts' and hence, perhaps, no such thing as the sum of its parts.
- But this is not true, it seems, of all wholes. By a 'whole', I should explain, I just mean a thing which has proper parts, or is 'composite', and I shall restrict my attention almost entirely to concrete wholes. (Henceforth, I shall drop the qualification 'proper' to avoid prolixity and so should be understood to be using the term 'part' in a sense in which it is not the case that any thing is, trivially, a part of itself.)
- I shall begin by defending the claims that I have just made. Later. I shall go on to examine their implications for the views of certain other philosophers, in particular those who adhere to a relativist conception at identity.
- Consider again our old friend, Tibbles the cat1. Tibbles2 is a composite thing: he certainly has parts. Tibbles3's tail - call it 'Tail' - is a part of Tibbles4. But is there an object which is, so to speak, Tibbles5 minus Tail? I rather think there is and that this object is also a part of Tibbles6, albeit a very large part. …
See "Lowe (E.J.) - Parts and Wholes" for an earlier attempt.
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