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Q: Philosophy ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Philosophy
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: lou33-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 18 Jun 2006 21:16 PDT
Expires: 18 Jul 2006 21:16 PDT
Question ID: 739247
Who said 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts' and what did
they do as an occupation?
Subject: Re: Philosophy
Answered By: eiffel-ga on 20 Jun 2006 03:51 PDT
Hi lou33-ga,

This phrase is usually informally attributed to Aristotle, a Greek
philosopher and scientist who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC. For
example, see about half-way down the following page:

Aristotle discussed the relationship of the parts to the whole: the
"part-whole causation" whereby the whole is how it is because of
nature of its parts, and the "whole-part causation" whereby the parts
are as they are because of the nature of the whole:


However, although Aristotle discussed the idea extensively, he doesn't
appear to have written the exact phrase as quoted.

A closely-related phrase is "The whole is greater than the part",
which the mathematician Euclid wrote in the early third century BC:

   Euclid's "Elements":

The counterposition is attributed to Rene Descartes, a philosopher and

  "If we possessed a thorough knowledge of all the parts
   of the seed of any animal (e.g. man), we could from
   that alone, be reasons entirely mathematical and certain,
   deduce the whole conformation..."

Subject: Re: Philosophy
From: pinkfreud-ga on 19 Jun 2006 10:33 PDT
This may be of interest to you:
Subject: Re: Philosophy
From: markvmd-ga on 19 Jun 2006 13:16 PDT
Wasn't that Spock?
Subject: Re: Philosophy
From: pinkfreud-ga on 19 Jun 2006 14:34 PDT
Nah, I think Spock said "The hull is greater than the sum of its ports."
Subject: Re: Philosophy
From: julie1976-ga on 19 Jun 2006 19:52 PDT
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) added one key concept to empirical
thought: the "whole" of ideas or experiences is more than the sum of
the parts.

To read this in context, see below.

Interest in "truth" and "knowledge" extends back to at least the early
Greek philosophers. To Socrates we attribute (through Plato) the view
that "virtue" and knowledge are identical, in harmony, and that virtue
(right conduct) can be taught. But, to Plato (our best known student
of Socrates), we attribute the beginnings of "dualism," the
independence of knowledge from experience; this independent knowledge
provides the framework from which meaning is derived from the senses.
Aristotle, a student of Plato?s, in time, returned to the concept that
experience, the senses and knowledge are all connected, that the
source of all knowledge is sensory experience. Aristotle believed that
knowledge was gained from sense experience and thinking. (Hergenhahn
1988 p 32) Aristotle?s work was lost to European philosophers for many
centuries, and Plato?s dualistic concepts were held supreme through
medieval times. (Hergenhahn 1988, The Canadian Encyclopedia Plus 1996)
Alternative views to Plato?s for experience or the senses as a source
of knowledge did begin to reappear. Tomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) is
credited with reopening the philosophical school of empiricism. Hobbes
maintained that the sense impressions are the source of all knowledge
(Hergenhahn). John Locke (1632-1704), was another English empiricist,
and a leading philosopher of his time in epistemology, ethics and
political theory. To Locke we credit the idea that an infants mind is
born blank, a "taula rasa" for experience to write upon (Hergenhahn).
Hergenhahn suggests that John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) added one key
concept to empirical thought: the "whole" of ideas or experiences is
more than the sum of the parts.

This info was found at:

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