Parts and wholes

Salih asks:

I had an argument with a friend of mine concerning part whole relation, he argues that there cannot be any entity with parts because of a contradiction. Nothing can be many things (so only unities can exist) so for example he says an animal cannot be one for it has diverse parts and so one part say a wing cannot be a hand for it will cease to be a wing and nothing can be many things so nothing can unite these things. So how should I reply?

Answer from Craig Skinner

Ah, you and your friend have started a discussion on mereology (the logic of parts and wholes) and are touching on the special composition question, gerrymandered objects and mereological nihilism.

But I wont go into any of that here. You and your friend will get round to it if you keep going.

How should you reply, you ask.

To keep things going I suggest you tell your friend you wont listen to him because he doesnt exist. He is a (human) animal, having diverse parts, and so, by his own admission, not a unity and therefore non-existent. Ask him, too, why he bothers to argue with you since he knows you dont exist either. It may help your exchange if you agree that, although you dont exist, being just a collection of parts (ultimately fundamental particles) arranged Salih-wise, and he is just particles arranged friend-of-Salih-wise, you can pretend to exist.

It’s hard work, though, pretending to exist when you dont, and so, worn out with it, I’ll settle the Craigwise-arranged particles in my favourite easychairwise particle arrangement, and leave you and your friend to get on with it till you get things clear.

One thought on “Parts and wholes

  1. Thats exactly what im going to say to him i think, in fact i said to him nothing prevent a bird from being a particular subject and at the same time this subject is whats being winged and headed so if a wing can be nothing prevent something from being a wing or winged so if i can assure something identical existing in all the parts unifying them and the parts might be considered certian aspects of the whole as existing in it similar somehow to accidents(though of course different) and we gaurantee that once all the parts exist together we got one unit and one subject having all the powers and being of the parts and those will be merely potential entities or ways of how the new subject can be divided and what can he become then we got a numerically one entity and those parts are merely aspects or potencies belonging to it not things of themselvs because one you unite them into one you cannot actually talk of many things for there is just one subject being saw all at once.

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