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PartsA Study in Ontology$
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Peter Simons

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780199241460

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199241460.001.0001

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Integral Wholes

Integral Wholes

(p.324) 9 Integral Wholes


Oxford University Press

In his well-known criticisms of the uses of the terms Gestalt and Ganzheit in the 1930s, Moritz Schlick argues that there is no ontological difference between sums on the one hand and Ganzheiten on the other, but simply a difference between two modes of representation of the same objects, so it is not possible for Ganzheit theorists to use the opposition to distinguish two kinds of object, mere sums or aggregates on the one hand, and the essentially different (and usually more interesting) unities, wholes, or totalities on the other. That the distinction between sums and non-sums — known as complexes — is an ontological one may be seen by comparing their existence conditions. For sums these are minimal: the sum exists just when all the constituent parts exist. By contrast, a complex constituted of the same parts as the sum only exists if a further constitutive condition is fulfilled.

Keywords:   sums, Gestalt, complexes, integrity, mereological integrity, ontological integrity, functional integrity, temporal integrity, persistence, structure

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