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Ideas of Verity Harte, by Text

[British, fl. 2002, Lecturer at King's College, London.]

2002 Plato on Parts and Wholes
1.1 p.10 What exactly is a 'sum', and what exactly is 'composition'?
     Full Idea: The difficulty with the claim that a whole is (just) the sum of its parts is what are we to understand by 'the sum'? ...If we say wholes are 'composites' of parts, how are we to understand the relation of composition?
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 1.1)
1.1 p.11 If something is 'more than' the sum of its parts, is the extra thing another part, or not?
     Full Idea: Holism inherits all the difficulties associated with the term 'sum' and adds one of its own, when it says a whole is 'more than' the sum of its parts. This seems to say it has something extra? Is this something extra a part?
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 1.1)
     A reaction: [compressed] Most people take the claim that a thing is more than the sum of its parts as metaphorical, I would think (except perhaps emergentists about the mind, and they are wrong).
1.1 p.11 The problem with the term 'sum' is that it is singular
     Full Idea: For my money, the real problem with the term 'sum' is that it is singular.
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 1.1)
     A reaction: Her point is that the surface grammar makes you accept a unity here, with no account of what unifies it, or even whether there is a unity. Does classical mereology have a concept (as the rest of us do) of 'disunity'?
1.2 p.14 Mereology began as a nominalist revolt against the commitments of set theory
     Full Idea: Historically, the evolution of mereology was associated with the desire to find alternatives to set theory for those with nomimalist qualms about the commitment to abstract objects like sets.
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 1.2)
     A reaction: Goodman, for example. It is interesting to note that the hardline nominalist Quine, pal of Goodman, eventually accepted set theory. It is difficult to account for things by merely naming their parts.
1.6 p.35 An ad hominem refutation is reasonable, if it uses the opponent's assumptions
     Full Idea: Judicious use of an opponent's assumptions is quite capable of producing a perfectly reasonable ad hominem refutation of the opponent's thesis.
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 1.6)
3.1 p.121 Mereology treats constitution as a criterion of identity, as shown in the axiom of extensionality
     Full Idea: Mereologists do suppose that constitution is a criterion of identity. This view is enshrined in the Mereological axiom of extensionality; that objects with the same parts are identical.
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 3.1)
     A reaction: A helpful explanation of why classical mereology is a very confused view of the world. It is at least obvious that a long wall and a house are different things, even if built of identical bricks.
4.4 p.252 Traditionally, the four elements are just what persists through change
     Full Idea: Earth, air, fire and water, viewed as elements, are, by tradition, the leading candidates for being the things that persist through change.
     From: Verity Harte (Plato on Parts and Wholes [2002], 4.4)
     A reaction: Physics still offers us things that persist through change, as conservation laws.