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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 13, 1998


Michael Rahnfeld
Pages 54-64

The Structure of Wholeness

Using a part-whole-calculus the vague concept of wholeness is rendered precisely as the structure of an atomic boolean lattice. The so-defined prototypical structure of wholeness has the status of a category, since every element of our experience may be considered as an intended application of it. This will be illustrated using examples from different ontological spheres. The hypothetical and therefore fallible character of the structure is shown in its inadequacy in grasping quantum logical facts. This demands a differentiation of wholeness. The defined structure may be seen as circular in two respects: On the one hand it is the precondition for the understanding of its own syntactic and semantic basics, on the other hand there exists a mutual defineability between its atoms, which leads us to the thesis that wholeness cannot be defined in a non-circular manner.

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