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Plato on Parts and WholesThe Metaphysics of Structure$
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Verity Harte

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198236757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198236751.001.0001

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The Problem of Composition

The Problem of Composition

Chapter:
(p.8) Chapter 1 The Problem of Composition
Source:
Plato on Parts and Wholes
Author(s):

Verity Harte (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198236751.003.0002

Examines several modern accounts of composition—especially David Lewis's, a version of classical extensional mereology—with the aim of framing a shared question about composition. The problem that Plato sets out to solve is of how to give an account of composition in such a way as to allow that a whole is an individual rather than merely a collection of parts. The relation between composition and identity, and the ontological innocence or otherwise of composition, are both matters right at the heart of Plato's discussions of composition, since on the view of composition that identifies a whole with its parts, a whole is both one and many. Consideration of a passage from the Theaetetus (203–206) gives content to the points of contact established between Platonic and modern discussions of composition and provides the first example of Plato's concern with this model of composition that he rejects.

Keywords:   collection, composition, identity, individual, David Lewis, mereology, ontology, parts, Plato, Theaetetus, wholes

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